Thomas Frank sends another missile into the flank of the status quo with Listen Liberals! by highlighting how the Democrats have been taken over by top professionals plucked from obscurity into higher ed elite such as Bill Clinton and Obama and now Hillary who could care less about the workers who used to be the heart of the party.
Thomas Frank asks what the Democratic Party has done for income inequality – anything at all?
Columbus: Thomas Frank on “Listen, Liberal”
03/15/2016 – 7:00pm
Join us on Tuesday, March 15th at 7pm for a discussion with Thomas Frank on his new book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?
LISTEN, LIBERAL! The subject of my new book is the Democratic Party’s failure over the last few decades to do anything really meaningful about income inequality. Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. This is not for lack of opportunity: Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages go nowhere, and the free-trade deals keep coming. The standard explanation for the Democrats’ failure are the rise of the right, which is supposed to be in league with the devil, and the way money-in-politics works its ugly will. I have described both of these in previous books. But as explanations for the Democrats’ failure they are ultimately inadequate, as is the favorite pundit theory that our Federal government is simply incapable of making big, sweeping turns. What I propose in this book is something else: that the Democrats are a class party in the most basic sense of the phrase, and that the socioeconomic group whose interests they represent most enthusiastically–the satisfied and prosperous professional class–simply doesn’t care all that much about income inequality. In addition to the startling and/or obvious facts I present to support this theory, “Listen, Liberal” contains: A look back at the “New Politics” and “Neo-Liberal” movements, a searching examination of the achievements of the Clinton presidency, a visit with the “creative class,” a conjecture or two about Obama’s fascination with tech, a Clinton Foundation event MC’d by Hillary herself, and of course a trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Taken as a whole, it is an attempt to understand the epidemic of liberal disillusionment as a genuine phenomenon rather than just to brush it off. It’s a meditation on a time in which middle America has crumbled, Wall Street has prospered, and hopeful liberals found themselves betrayed again and again and again. Technically speaking, the book will be published in March
Synopsis: It is a widespread belief among liberals that if only Democrats can continue to dominate national elections, if only those awful Republicans are beaten into submission, the country will be on the right course.
But this is to fundamentally misunderstand the modern Democratic Party. Drawing on years of research and first-hand reporting, Frank points out that the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. This is not for lack of opportunity: Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages keep falling, and the free-trade deals keep coming.
Thomas Frank is the author of “Pity the Billionaire”, “The Wrecking Crew”, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”, and “One Market Under God”. A former opinion columnist for “The Wall Street Journal”, Frank is the founding editor of “The Baffler” and a monthly columnist for “Harper’s”. He lives outside Washington, D.C.