Fairly short book, describing life in rural America and why they consistently vote Republican. Unlike the cities, rural Americans live in small and medium-sized communities with two characteristics: (1) it feels like everyone knows everyone else, and (2) it feels like everyone thinks the same way. Both of these are not literally true, but people behave in a way as to maintain the illusion, for example, greeting others like you knew them, and keeping unpopular opinions to yourself.
Rural America is trying to hold on to its old way of life, which is gradually becoming less and less viable. The decline happens one business at a time, when some store or factory closes and lays off all its workers, the crucial thing there will never be a new business that comes to replace it. There is severe brain drain as all the college-educated kids leave for bigger cities and never come back; those that remain are seen as the dumb ones. With a general sense of decline and hopelessness, people turn to drugs and teen pregnancies increase. They are aware that their way of life and communities are unravelling.
They see themselves as practical-minded, while the politicians in Washington and distant from their world and “lack common sense”. The government forces regulations down their throat that are costly to implement, while turning a deaf ear to the serious problems in their communities, thus they overwhelmingly vote Republican. Although some people volunteer to make their town better, the economic problems are fundamental and cannot be easily fixed.
People in these communities are morally conservative, and usually see abortion and homosexuality as wrong, and blame TV influence. They often hold racist views towards Hispanics and blacks, though they generally don’t admit it directly. There is some shift as some people have become more accepting of abortions and gay people though.