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Book Nook: Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold by Ross Benes


Vick Mickunas' 2021 interview with Ross Benes

When I was a small boy my father explained to me that we live in the USA and that stands for the United States of America. I thought that was pretty cool. Some time after that I learned that the USA was the place where there is "liberty and justice for all." I felt that was really great, too.

Then I learned how to read and I became very interested in something that was called "The Civil War." After I read several books about it I realized that these supposedly united states where we live have not exactly been very united. In fact there have been just a few times in our history where there was this great feeling of national unity. World War Two seems like one possible example.

I also learned that there can be liberty and sometimes even justice but not for all. That has not happened so far and since we have so many Americans who are incarcerated the prospect seems unlikely and shall remain a mere platitude.

How did we get this way? Why are we so divided? Have we always been this way? In his book "Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold" Ross Benes examines how polarization of the electorate in his home state of Nebraska has escalated in recent years. This is a trend that has been underway throughout our nation's heartland.

Benes examines some powerful wedge issues that are serving to drive once moderate voters further to the right: abortion, immigration, and government health policy, and how these wedge issues have been employed by politicians to further fuel the polarization that we are seeing.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library, Clark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.