This Is How We Lose

In rural America, if you have progressive politics, you lose. I don’t need to tell you that. And, truly, here in rural Northwestern Pennsylvania that means we’ve been stuck with a raft of lame, ineffective, right wing politicians, which is, yes, what people would expect. Well, I write stuff…books and essays…and wrote through a political campaign for the PA House because I don’t accept the fate many resign us to. We are mightier than that. We are deeper thinkers than that. We’re just trapped by bad faith politicians and limited information.

I ran for the PA House of Representatives in 2020 to change the narrative, and I lost. Along the way, I figured out that having rural progressives lose elections is consistent with the political strategy of both Republicans and Democrats. That is sad and frustrating. So I wrote a book about that, and the was under contract, and it was supposed to be published by an urban rust belt press in 2022, and that publisher broke the contract. Maybe because they didn’t like the message. Maybe because they didn’t like me. Maybe because hearing rural progressives criticize urban ones is bad for their business and their brand.

Same old story, really. Well, here we are and here I am, publishing the book serially right here. Because the story matters, as does shining the spotlight best I can. On the stories that write us in certain ill-fitting tropes. On the politicians spouting empty partisan rhetoric, then voting in Harrisburg to keep us broke and broken. On how stories are built. On the facts that speak against the stories that condemn us to inevitable decline.

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Other words: Appalachia North (WVU Press), All-American Redneck (U Tennessee Press), essays lots of places.

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Thinking about the narratives of rural American politics.


Author, former Penna. state house candidate, Appalachian. Writing to remake the political landscape of Northwestern Pennsylvania.