Monday, November 28, 2016

November 28, 2016--Listen Liberals

Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal is a must read for progressives who are confused, frustrated, or just plain furious about why our preferred candidate is not the president-elect, ensconced up in Chappaqua, assembling her cabinet.

He is the author, recall, of What's the Matter With Kansas? which exposed the truth about how the conservative establishment backed by big-buck contributors such as the Koch Brothers figured out how to hoodwink Kansans among others by promising to make their lives great again--they would deliver on all the social issues that at the time were tormenting traditional-minded voters, from abortion and gay rights to prayer in school but not evolution in school.

If elected, the Republican Party promised it would end affirmative action and the voters would in return agree to tax cuts to benefit only the top five percent.

What of course happened was that the wealthy got their loopholes but average Americans did not have their social issues addressed.

Gays now can marry in all 50 states, evolution is still being taught in most schools, women still have the right to seek an abortion (often sadly having to run the gauntlet to secure one), and prayer in schools continues to be unconstitutional.

So now Frank turns his attention to the collapsed liberal majority. His subtitle says it well--What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

If you haven't done so, read it and weep.

With a wealth of data and other forms of evidence, sardonically, he lays out how the old Democratic coalition of constituents has slipped further and further behind while progressive leaders offer lip service explanations and support policies that do not even chip away at inequality. In fact, they have voted for policies like the Bush tax cuts that have made things worse while at the same time for the liberal professional elites things have actually gone quite well.

Among liberals, Frank demonstrates, a kind of political ju jitsu is taking place that is spookingly similar to that practiced by Republican conservatives in the heartland of Kansas and the rest of red-county America.

In his words, "A form of corporate and cultural elitism has largely eclipsed the party's old middle-class commitment. For certain favored groups in a handful of cities, this has meant prosperity. But for the nation as a whole, it is a one-way ticket into the abyss of inequality."

And Frank does a good job of vividly describing that abyss--
There was a time when average Americans knew whether we were going up or going down--because when the country prospered, the people prospered, too. But these days things are different. From the middle of the Great Depression [of the 1930s] up to 1980, the lower 90 percent of the population, a group we might call the "American people," took home some 70 percent of the growth in the country's income. 
Look at the same numbers beginning in 1997--from the beginning of the New Economy boom to the present--and you find that this same group, the American people, pocketed none of America's income growth. Their share of the good times was zero. The gains they harvested after all their hard work were nil. The upper 10 percent of the population--the country's financiers, managers, and professionals--ate the whole thing. The privileged are doing better than at any time since economic records began.
The last chapter of Listen, Liberal, rather than the current, "Liberal Gilt," could easily have been, "Why Donald Trump Won the Election." And the chapter after that should be, "It's Time, Liberals, to Fess Up, Organize, and Fight Back."

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home