Listen, Liberal, Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

Listen, Liberal, Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

Book - 2017
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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, political analyst Thomas 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. Frank's Listen, Liberal lays bare the essence of the Democratic Party's philosophy and how it has changed over the years. A form of corporate and cultural elitism has largely eclipsed the party's old working-class commitment, he finds. For certain favored groups, this has meant prosperity. But for the nation as a whole, it is a one-way ticket into the abyss of inequality.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. :, Picador,, 2017
Edition: First Picador paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781250118134
1250118131
Characteristics: 334 pages ; 21 cm

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Bookworm1562
Feb 11, 2017

"Listen, Liberal" is worth the read even if you don't understand the history of recent US politics. Thomas Frank explains the estrangement of the middle class from the DFL. Organized labor brought social segments together. The DFL became an organization run by the academic elite and professionals. This last fall it was dissatisfaction that brought middle class segments of society to vote for change. In Frank's view, the DFL brought it upon their selves.

The ball is now in the court of the republicans. If they don't add employment and boost up the middle class, they are looking at another shift in party control. Long term, no change will mean a deep depression.

JCLLauraH Feb 02, 2017

This book was a challenge for me to read because I am not well-versed in politics and take for granted as fact several of the ideas he challenges in the book. The author is obviously frustrated by the state of the Democratic party, and his tone is sarcastic, which makes it difficult to follow if you're not familiar with the historical and political terms he mentions. He brought up some really intriguing ideas -- however, since the book is aimed at criticizing the Party rather that teaching the reader, I found myself wondering, "But why do you think that is true when I've always thought this other thing is true?" For example, while criticizing NAFTA Frank says, "NAFTA was supposed to encourage US exports to Mexico. The opposite is what happened, and in a huge way. NAFTA was supposed to increase employment in the U.S.; a study from 2010 counts almost 700,000 jobs lost thanks to the treaty." But there are others who argue that there were minimal effects on the U.S. economy and that jobs actually did increase. Stating the fact that jobs were actually lost, as Frank does, doesn't address why the other side believes the opposite and leaves me wondering what the truth really is. There are many cases of these kind of statements throughout the book, and if you don't already know the history of Welfare Reform, Free Trade, Dodd-Frank, The Great Recession, etc., you may be a little lost as to exactly why everything is so terrible, even if you get the sense that he's probably right.

A complete debunking of the Democratic Party of the last 30 years, the subtitle for LISTEN, LIBERAL could be "What's the Matter with Massachusetts?" For those who have read Frank since his days running The Baffler, you will find the familiar descriptions of the rape and murder of the working class at the hands of political elites, sort of a "current events" version of BRAVE HEART. Here Frank aims his considerable intellectual arsenal at the technocratic, professional Democrat ruler class. All the sacred cows are tossed onto the pyre: innovation centers, microfinance, "Obama couldn't accomplish anything because of those beastly Republicans" (what about enforcing antitrust law? Franks asks). This is a must-read book before the general election.

n
nparrish
Sep 13, 2016

I got this book because I hate socialism & liberal philosophy. I was worried it'd be too right-wing, but the author also criticizes republicans. He is actually pretty funny too. I don't agree with everything he says, but more than I expected. Overall, it's an okay book, but he cries too much about the poor "middle class", a classic rally call for American morons. I also find it boring that the US is the only focus, in a world where this country barely matters anymore. If you want US politics to improve, you better start paying attention to the rest of the planet.

a
AaronAardvark1940
Sep 12, 2016

Loved this book!
I've often wondered why Dems who are identified as liberals don't seem to align with my liberal beliefs. This explains how the DLC moved the party rightward and why it did so.

4
4B39B22330E8
Apr 21, 2016

When I hear the word "innovation," I reach for my revolver...

v
voisjoe1_0
Mar 25, 2016

The theme of the book seems to be that America’s last three Democratic presidents have been fairly isolated from the experiences and lives of today’s working class. By the time they had completed their education, they were more influenced by upper class Harvard, etc. So when they entered their presidencies, they brought others similar to themselves into their cabinets. Thus, while being Democrats, they were more interested in working for those members in society that were way above mere working-class mortals. And prison was substituted for college for non-whites by the implementation of unequal justice. America’s degree of inequality increased, as laws favoring the big banks and big corporations were passed and implemented as though Republicans were in office.

s
StarGladiator
Mar 18, 2016

[UPDATE, 10/16: Sadly, Mr. Frank has stated he will vote for HRC for president - - which is exactly the mindset which continues the sordid status quo!]
In a recen talk Mr. Frank mentions how Bill Clinton was just about to privatize social security, but then the Monica Lewinski scandal broke -- we owe Ms. Lewinski a major debt of gratitude! Also, that the Clintons were the New Deal killers - - a most important point if one is considering electing them again! I recall how Bill Clinton, in 1996, tried to get the House to put forth legislation to kille individual ownership of patents in America, to bring it in line with the WTO's charter! Un-frigging-believable, but American illiterates will fall for the Clintons once again, no doubt, just as they voted for Nixon and the Bushes!]

http://www.globalresearch.ca/ten-reasons-why-bill-and-hillary-clinton-do-not-deserve-a-third-term-in-the-white-house/5520424

[So, a member of the Rothschild banking family threw a fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton in Martha's Vineyard - - no wonder the majority of registered Republicans would prefer HRC over Trump - - no Rothschild would ever throw a fundraiser for that guy!]
[What I really appreciate about authors like Thomas Frank and David Cay Johnston is that when their fans urge them to write about something, they actually pay attention!]
When they write the ultimate biographies of the Clintons and Obama they will all have the same general title:
Giving It Up To The Republicans: The Bill Clinton Story.
Giving It Up To The Republicans: The Barack Obama Story.
Giving It Up To The Republicans: The Hillary Clinton Story.
My one disagreement with Mr. Frank is his misunderstanding of what meritocracy really is and confusing the actual definition with cronyism: Richard Holbrooke being an excellent example. Hailed as The Great Man by Koch brothers-financed The Takeaway show's host, John Hockenberry, Holbrooke barely scraped through journalism school, was unable to obtain a reporter's job when they were hired in great numbers, flunked the Foreign Service Exam, then decided on a career in the US Army, but flunked the OCS exam, but thanks to his family connections to Dean Rusk, was hired on at the State Department even though he never qualified!
He would go to Wall Street in between political appointments, making millions. [Was he an overnight super-financial genius - - or was that simply a political payoff? Duh. . . a political payoff!]
Typical of both political parties, or both wings of the Bankster Party!

b
bradallen
Feb 01, 2016

Thomas Frank knows how to get me all riled up! Listen, Liberal is a scathing indictment of the Democratic Party and its abandonment of the working class. Who speaks for the American People when the Party of the People is now the Party of the Professional Class? Just in time to get pumped up about election season.

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