Book Review: “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto”

The title alone will make some of my conservative readers cringe, but place aside your politics and give the boys behind the “wellRED” comedy tour a chance. “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin’ Dixie Out Of The Dark” is not as political of a book as one would think. It’s an unapologetic celebration of all things redneck, written by three guys who’ve lived the life, and a reflection on how the South can do better going forward. Trae Crowder (the original “Liberal Redneck”), Corey Forrester, and Drew Morgan hit with this book so hard if it were a baseball, you could consider it a home run ball that left the stadium, crashed through the window of a pickup truck in the parking lot, and then set off about three hundred fireworks in the back seat destroying a crate of liquor in the process.  It’s that damned good.

The book begins with a discussion of the etymology behind the word “redneck” and how it became a slur against poor white people from the South. Because the wellRED boys aren’t ones to mince words, they go into detail about how the term “redneck” was taken back by Southerners, why other slurs like “cracker” and “peckerwood” just don’t work, and how to spot a real redneck from a fake one.

Once the reader gets past why the wellRED comedy team has no problems admitting they’re from the South, or why they refuse to “lose the accent” to pander to mainstream audiences, no subject is off the table. From what constitutes acceptable country music (including a playlist of the Liberal Rednecks’ favorite hip hop groups), to alternatives to the Confederate Battle Flag, Trae, Corey, and Drew go after every subject near and dear to a redneck’s heart. They discuss the love and odd relationship with our Mamaws and Papaws. Why Church is a big thing in the South and why some Southerners try so damned hard to get out of going on Sunday. And the biggest problem of them all is something Trae, Drew and Corey tackle hard: why Taylor Swift is considered a country music artist and why in the name of Aunt Tammy no one has called this incident of cultural appropriation out yet.

In case you thought this was just a feel good book and a celebration of all things Southern, hold your horses. The Liberal Rednecks aren’t afraid to talk about the political and social issues concerning them. The war on drugs, gun control, and racism are all areas they discuss in detail and offer suggestions on how to get out of the loop the South continually seems stuck in with regards to each. Trae, Drew, and Corey don’t pull punches, and while I may disagree heavily with them on some of the points raised in the “Liberal Redneck Manifesto” they actually made me laugh in the process. If you can make me laugh when I disagree with you on a point, you’ve scored one for your side, and the wellRED boys do so with flair in “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto.”

The book is interspersed with “Porch Talk” segments from Trae, Drew, and Corey. These are personalized segments where each of the wellRED team talks about their personal life experiences to the reader. I won’t go into detail, because I think this book worthy of your time and money, but I will say Corey’s tribute to his Granny Bain and Trae’s final porch talk both moved me to tears. They were both strong, moving, and inspiring. You can’t ask more from people who make their living making people laugh. The porch talks are the authors getting as vulnerable as possible, and it makes the entire book real for everyone who reads it.

Prior to this book’s release, a tome called “Hillbilly Elegy” was released to critical acclaim as the de facto explainer for life in the South. I can tell you after reading “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto” whoever tells you that is full of shit and probably a Northerner. Shame the person with the Cafe Au Lait, tell them they’re wrong, and then make an offer of peace by getting them to read “The Liberal Redneck Manifesto” if they want to see what life in the South is really like.

It’s worth your time, money, and energy. You can buy the book at Amazon or most book stores, but I recommend you order the book through the wellRED website here. It’s a great way to get in the head of most Southerners, get a good idea of what life is really like in the South, and have a good laugh and think about all of it.

*Disclosure: I’ve had the privilege of sharing a stage with Trae Crowder, and Drew Morgan I’ve interviewed on the radio. I consider both friends.

Thoughts On The Liberal Redneck

Many of you have seen the Liberal Redneck, Trae Crowder, on video either through Facebook or other means funded by the New York Daily News.  He’s now their “Redneck in Chief,” and managed to get himself to a national platform where he can spread a message and get paid doing what he loves.  I’m happy for Trae, but just remember he’s spreading the message of those he’s paid to speak for.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  He’s a comedian.  Part of a stand-up comic’s success is reaching a national audience.  Trae managed to find that when it came to politics through his “Liberal Redneck” videos. He’s done well with them; many go viral and he’s gotten a position with the New York Daily News.  I don’t think all his videos represent the whole Trae Crowder, but that’s cool too. You can be an ad man and not represent the whole truth of being you.

When you see the “Liberal Redneck,” just remember he’s being paid to support a certain narrative that works for him.  That’s all.  He’s funny, and he deserves to be paid, but if he was the “Conservative Redneck” he wouldn’t get a day’s worth of air play because of his positions.  If he came out more nuanced than an extreme Liberal’s position to do nothing less than “shatter” Southern stereotypes he’d not have the attention he does now.

Trae, I’m honestly happy for your success if you’re reading this.  You deserve it.  You busted your ass with Drew Morgan, Corey Forrester, and D.J. Lewis, and you came out on top.  Bravo to you.  There’s nothing wrong with taking orders from the NY Daily News and supporting that if it feeds your family and you get national attention.

However, it does behoove your national audience to know that you’re not a NY Daily News slave.  Your political views are more than what you’re paid to say.  You have a better mind for politics, the world, and life in general than what the NY Daily News allows you to vent as their “redneck in chief” and if you really aired some of your views then they’d fire you in a heartbeat.  I won’t discuss that, because you need the money and you deserve the fame you’re getting.

But let’s be honest.  The News is telling you to say certain things, and you do it because it gives you a great paycheck.  That’s fine.  Just admit that you have more nuanced stances than what the NY Daily News tells you to say and we’re good.  We’re good right now, as I write this.  I just want the world to know the “Liberal Redneck” is a bit more grounded in reality than the views he puts out on the world’s stage.

Let’s not forget the accent either.  Your videos are filled with the southern drawl most people expect of the barefoot hillbilly type.  Yet when you do club shows it’s completely different.  You actually sound like you’re a decent human being.  Why do you let the NY Daily News make you their token “hillbilly” from the South?  I would imagine the money, but I’m often wrong.

In any case, Trae Crowder, the “Liberal Redneck,” is a credit to the Scruffy City regardless of his political leanings. If you’re a comedy club owner you’re a fool to not book him.  If you want him to speak you’re a fool to not contact him.  Just remember when you do it’s all about the message Trae Crowder’s been told to spread so he can keep making money.

And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.