Barbara Boxer’s new Beltway novel is out, and it explains why some of us become conservatives and some of us become liberals.

In fact, the book could almost be read as a primer on a certain pessimistic view held by some coastal Democrats, who see a far-off middle America as a conservative backwater � one that has wrested control of the national political culture.

In “A Time to Run,” the main characters from the reigning “blue states” â€â€? Josh from California and Ellen from equally reassuring New York â€â€? are liberal, altruistic, sane. Their affluent families are caring and sharing.

Their red state-born buddy, Greg, is the son of an emotionally abusive Ohio hardware seller former Marine who lost his favorite son in Vietnam. The red states that Greg heads to after graduation are interchangeably dull Siberias where Greg hangs out with the menfolk, bonding over beer, football and hunting.

Josh and Ellen become Left Coast do-gooders. Greg becomes a sociopathic neoconservative journalist, the go-to guy for character assassinations conjured by a right-wing California senator. Boxer said that although she didn’t intend for the characters to represent the American political equation, “I hope people will understand the issues I raise about why people are blue or red or purple.”

Boxer said the novel explores “why people become liberals and conservatives. We explore the battle between liberals and conservatives at so many levels.”

And it’s not pretty. If you’re looking for an inspirational story about someone who rose above a difficult background to champion the downtrodden, forget it.

In “A Time to Run,” underprivileged Greg emerges as an opportunistic user â€â€? an object lesson that does not seem particularly populist.

(“We wanted to give Greg a very solid blue-collar background, and Ohio just seemed to be a good place for somebody like Greg to be from,” said co-writer Hayes, who is the London-born author of such books as “The Winter Women.” “I do believe that that is a fact, that generally speaking, large coastal cities have a more liberal bent.”)

Yep. Beer, football, and hunting are what did it to me, too. That and the abuse. And the Vietnam.

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