What’s the matter with Kansas?

Poor Texans fear “illegal immigrants” for the same reason poor Zimbabweans fear witches: they’re caught in a web of forces they do not understand, and they want a narrative that makes sense of their suffering. Democrats can either continue to treat this need, and the people driven by it, with contempt, or they can win elections. They can’t do both.

Witches, that’s what.

Well, not quite. But Tim Burke writes a powerful analysis of how being caught in a web of poorly-understood forces generates irrational fear: of zvidhoma in Zimbabwe, of illegal immigrants in Texas. Suffering people want narratives that make sense of their suffering as much as they want “solutions.” Democrats can either continue to treat this need, and the people driven by it, with contempt, or they can win elections. They can’t do both.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com