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Inside White Rural Rage: A Talk With Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman

Editor Michael Tomasky talks with two veteran analysts about what they learned in their deep dive into rural America.

Illustration by The New Republic

White Rural Rage, the new book by Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman, stands out in its genre for some of the things it doesn’t do. It’s not a long finger-wag at Democrats and liberals for ignoring rural America. It’s not a coded apologia for certain people’s racism. In fact, Schaller and Waldman mince no words in saying that rural white Americans are a threat to democracy: “Name a force or impulse that threatens the stability of the American political system … and it is almost always more prevalent among rural whites” than anyone else.

Yet neither is the book an attack. It’s even sympathetic in many respects. What it is not is sentimental. It’s just the kind of writing about this part of America that we need. Michael Tomasky spoke with the authors via Zoom on March 27.