shook my head over—but it tells that story responsibly and with a more than rhetorical sympathy for the economic struggles of Middle America.
Like Brooks's column, At the Crossroads admonishes the Obama government for essentially dropping the ball on the Midwest, but where Brooks sees this as inept political maneuvering—somehow Obama allowed blue-collar Midwesterners who "were willing to take a flier" on him in 2008 to become "disillusioned with Democratic policies"—Aamidor and Evanoff, the authors of At the Crossroads understand that the reality is quite a bit more complicated than poorly-managed political theater. Brooks acknowledges that "voters in this region face structural problems, not cyclical ones," but seems not to understand that "structural" means something more than "big, ugly, persistent mess."
At the Crossroads differs from Brooks and his ilk, therefore, not just by virtue of the fact that it is a book, not an editorial column, and can therefore bring to bear an armature of both statistical and quasi-ethnographic data about the collapsing industries of the Midwest and the political ramifications of that collapse, but also because At the Crossroads recognizes that elections and exit polls are not the only way to figure out what is going on within the electorate, or a portion thereof.
Aamidor and Evanoff also understand that Midwesterners are not, as Brooks depicts them, simply waiting around for the federal government to figure out how to talk nice enough to win their votes. At the Crossroads tells the story of how efforts by auto-city mayors and union leaders to retain jobs and find innovative ways of gaining some economic security for their communities. Traveling around mostly among a network of small Indiana cities that are, or were, satellites of the Detroit auto industry, the two authors fill in a rich picture of the challenges facing these communities and the obstacles that impede economic redevelopment—two of the most significant being the guiding political-economic philosophies of the past ("What's good for General Motors…") and the present ("What's good for Wall Street…").
I came across this book as part of the excellent Eco-Libris campaign to raise the profile of books printed on recycled/FSC-certified paper; At the Crossroads is printed by ECW Press in Canada.