Are Red States Well-Read?

Posted: Sep 06, 2007 12:01 AM
Like many Americans, I’ve tried to tune out Elizabeth Edwards’ constant stream of Drudge-worthy gaffes to supposedly elect her husband president.  It’s clear that even the Left is tired of it.  This week, Susan Estrich wrote, “I’m the last person to recognize even a kernel of truth in Ann Coulter’s repeated attacks on the use of victims to say what others can’t, but Elizabeth Edwards is making the number one ranter of the right actually look like she’s onto something.”  Estrich is the author of Soulless: Ann Coulter and the Right-Wing Church of Hate, currently ranked #595,166 on Amazon.  Apparently, the anti-conservative publishing industry ain’t what it used to be.
Several weeks ago, former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder cited an AP/Ipsos poll stating that generally liberals read more than conservatives.  Schroeder concluded, “The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: ‘No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes.’  It's pretty hard to write a book saying, ‘No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes’ on every page.”  I love that a liberal is finally admitting how disgusted she is by the prospect of “no new taxes.”  Schroeder went on to say that liberal readers tend to be interested in policy discussions that “can’t say anything in less than paragraphs. We really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion.” 
To the contrary, one of the Left’s most notorious bestsellers can be summed up in three words – “Because I could.”  Interestingly, many of their bestsellers come from well-known heavy-hitters like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Al Franken of SNL fame (you know, back when he was sort of funny).  Many conservative bestselling authors were unknown to mainstream America prior to their first time on the New York Times Best Sellers list.  This includes John O’Neill, Mark Steyn, Gary Aldrich, Bill Gertz, Robert Spencer, and, though it’s hard to believe now, Ann Coulter, a total unknown when her first book, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, became a bestseller.
Schroeder, who is now president of the American Association of Publishers, is relying on her friends in the media to take the AP/Ipsos poll at face value and not “peel the onion.”  The poll concludes that of those who have read at least one book in the last year, liberals read an average of nine books a year while conservatives read an average of eight books a year.  News reports on the poll make no distinction between fiction and non-fiction books by political identity.  For all we know, liberals are under the covers with nine bodice-ripping romance novels while conservatives are absorbing eight books by Thomas Sowell and Phyllis Schlafly. 
The Bible and other religious books were cited by more than two-thirds of those who read more than one book a year.  CNN haughtily notes, “Those likeliest to read religious books included older and married women, lower earners, minorities, lesser educated people, Southerners, rural residents, Republicans and conservatives.”   CNN seems to be astounded that these people even know how to read.
Another distinction that was ignored in reporting is the age and political ideology of those that read non-fiction books.  Each year at CPAC, there are thousands of students with armfuls of conservative books from well-known authors like Newt Gingrich and David Horowitz, and those that should be required college reading like Frederick Bastiat and Milton Friedman.  (Click here for more recommended reading for students.)
At the Young America’s Foundation’s National Conservative Student Conference this summer I met one young woman that should scare liberals everywhere.  Her name is Toni Woods and she’s a senior at Amherst County High School in Virginia.  She counts Ann Coulter, Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, Margaret Thatcher and Phyllis Schlafly as just a few of her idols.  Among her favorite books are Myth of the Robber Barons, Godless, Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel, and A Choice, Not an Echo.  Young conservatives like Toni aren’t just reading these books, they’re taking those ideas back to their campuses.  Conservative students are more well-read than their teachers.
You’ll find many up-and-coming young conservative writers here on Townhall.  Rest assured they are waiting in the wings with best-selling manuscripts that will humiliate whatever Al Franken and his “researchers” string together.