Thomas Frank discusses his book, “Rendezvous With Oblivion” at Politics and Prose on 6/21/18.
If anyone can make sense of our polarized, divided, and increasingly frustrated nation, Frank can. One of the sharpest political commentators at work today, Frank, author of Listen, Liberal and the classic What’s the Matter with Kansas?, has gathered a wide-ranging selection of his essays that begins to put the messiness that is Trump’s America into some kind of perspective. Energetic, realistic, and outraged, Frank, founding editor of The Baffler and regular contributor to The Guardian, writes with his signature wit and uncompromising common sense, taking us around the country for an incisive examination of how inequality is manifesting itself in cities, workplaces, and politics.
Thomas Frank is the author of Listen, Liberal, Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, and What’s the Matter with Kansas? A former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper’s, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and writes regularly for The Guardian. He lives outside Washington, D.C.
What’s the Matter With Republicans?
Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” In answering his title’s question, Frank argued that hardworking heartland Americans were being duped by a Republican Party that whipped up culture-war frenzy to disguise its plutocratic aims.
.. Middle-class and working-class Republican voters, he insisted, were voting against their own economic self-interest and getting worse than nothing in return.
.. You don’t have to be a dupe to be a “values voter”
.. believe that some moral questions are more important than where to set the top tax rate.
.. embracing theories about how the working class was actually undertaxed, rallying around tax plans that seemed to threaten middle-class tax increases and promoting an Ayn Randian vision in which heroic entrepreneurs were the only economic actor worth defending.
.. Trump has essentially become the Frankian caricature in full
.. a mistake for liberals to suggest that Trump is just returning to the Bush playbook
.. conservatism doesn’t have to be a mix of Randianism and racial resentment
.. a depressing percentage of American conservatives seem perfectly happy with the bargain that Frank claimed defined their party, with a president who ignores their economic interests and public policy more generally and offers instead the perpetual distraction of Twitter feuds and pseudo-patriotic grandstanding.
.. a segment of religious conservatives, like those gathered at last week’s Values Voters Summit, who cheered rapturously for an empty, strutting nationalism and a president who makes a mockery of the remoralized culture that they claim to seek.
.. Far better to have a president who really sticks it to those overpaid babies in the N.F.L. and makes the liberals howl with outrage — that’s what a real and fighting conservatism should be all about!
.. they’ve decided to become part of the caricature themselves, become exactly what their enemies and critics said they were, become a movement of plutocrats and grievance-mongers with an ever-weaker understanding of the common good.
they claim patriotism as their own, try to spiritualize secular laws, and demonize immigrants.
Maybe Trump can supporters can live well on spite, resentment, and the veneer of religion (“Merry Christmas!), but I can’t.
.. Jesse The Conservative
The biggest fear of Democrats, is that Conservative Republicans will gain the upper hand–and actually enact some of their ideas–lower taxes, less regulation, free market health care, school choice, tightened welfare guidelines, and control of our borders and enforcement of immigration laws.
Democrats are scared to death that American will become accustomed to lower taxes, more disposable income, a smaller, less intrusive government, a vibrant economy, better schools, better health care, and the enforcement of the rule of law. Liberals know full well, that as soon as Americans return to their free-market, capitalist roots, Conservative messaging will be powerful and direct. Americans will have no problem understanding where their newly-found prosperity comes from.
.. I’m a Republican. I don’t like big government. I am against almost everything they do in DC night and day, aka, The Swamp. I vote on moral issues first and all the rest second. AND, I want the government to do something to return moral values to the center of American life.
What’s wrong with this picture? I don’t like government and I want government to do something about it!
.. Does anyone remember that Obama was staging war games in Texas a couple of years ago as part of a master plan to take over the country and stay in office? Never mind.
- The old south still hates “the north” from the Civil War.
- The far west hates Washington because it owns and controls so much public land.
- The Republicans generally hate federal taxes because of the vast power amassed by Washington to tax for the common good. They aren’t really interested in that all that much. They want to whack away at “common” and shift to “good for me”, which is, after all, a basic human instinct.
.. Nothing is going to satisfy the dissatisfied 1/4 to 1/3. NOTHING. They are wedded to their grievances.
.. Victor James
.. So forget Reagan and think Brownback, the Kansas version of Trump who led that state into financial ruin. Brownback only denied financial reality, but Trump has that beat by a mile.
.. Francis W
.. The most depressing thing about the rise of Trump is that a sizable percentage of the population really wants a bullying, inexperienced narcissist to be president and and another substantial percentage didn’t see it as a major problem when they cast their vote last fall.
.. There has been one balanced, pragmatic, Republican President since Dwight Eisenhower, and that’s George H.W. Bush, and the party cast him out for trying to be responsible about the budget deficit. Trump did not create the current Republican party, he merely fully unmasked it. The Republican party of today is full of a lot of very dark and dangerous thinking, governing out of animus and resentment, all from a base of ignorance. It’s bad out there.