A “special relationship:” Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

On the frontier with Greater Appalachia

I live in Allegheny County, which Colin Woodard counts as the Midlands, and that is where I took these photographs, neither very far from where I live. But Greater Appalachia, which I have associated with authoritarian populism,[1] is just across the county lines to the south.[2] I’ve also been skeptical that these boundaries should be treated as sharply drawn borders, thinking that the old notion of frontiers was a more appropriate way of thinking about it.

A couple vehicles with signs on their rear windows, one advocating Sean Hannity as a purveyor of “truth,” and the other declaring distrust in the “liberal media,” offer a little support for my notion of frontiers, but also support my theory of the morality of polarization.[3] I certainly do not advocate what media scholars sometimes informally refer to as Faux News. I don’t trust the other side’s information either. I don’t trust the other side’s motivations either.

And in fact, when I get into a conversation with a white in my car, I often finding myself in teaching mode. Not so with Blacks who live the experience that, as a critical theorist, I can only theorize about. They’re already hip to much of what I would talk about.


I dread the prospect of Boris Johnson being prime minister while Donald Trump remains president. I do not know what the emergent properties of this “special relationship,” a term more usually applied to the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States, will be. They can only be evil.

Natasha Frost, “Why Boris Johnson is the bookies’ favorite to be Britain’s next prime minister,” Quartz, May 24, 2019, https://qz.com/1627532/boris-johnson-is-the-bookmakers-favorite-for-britains-next-pm/

Donald Trump

This, on the other hand, is going a little better.

Karen Tumulty, “Pelosi is a dangerous foil for a president who operates on impulse,” Washington Post, May 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/pelosi-is-a-dangerous-foil-for-a-president-who-operates-on-impulse/2019/05/24/ecfe2ea2-7e34-11e9-a5b3-34f3edf1351e_story.html


Scott Wilson, “Berkeley loves its sanctuary label, but a housing crisis is testing its liberal values,” Washington Post, May 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/berkeley-loves-its-sanctuary-label-but-a-housing-crisis-is-testing-its-liberal-values/2019/05/23/805b2b48-7721-11e9-b3f5-5673edf2d127_story.html

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’” Not Housebroken, November 4, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  2. [2]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, September 21, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/

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