Thomas Frank is a historian and writer. He is also the man who tried to save the Democratic Party and our Nation from great harm. He is the great chronicler of one of the most grievous, self-inflicted wounds in modern American history. Twelve years ago, in What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Frank tried to warn the Democratic Party’s dominant elites’ that their policies and contempt for workers were pushing a large part of its base out of the Party. Many of the workers that were the Democratic Party’s traditional base were leaving the Party and failing to participate in elections, but some were supporting the far-right wing of the Republican Party. At the national level, the New Democrats’ candidates remained highly competitive, but the Republican Party was able to attain complete political domination of most states.
This year, Frank renewed his warnings in Listen, Liberal, which explains with characteristic verve, facts, and candor how the “New Democrats” made the New Deal, labor, and the working class their targets for attack and ridicule. The book explains why the New Democrats’ policies, which adopted traditional Republican policies, proved so destructive to labor and the working class.
The New Democrats cannot claim to be shocked that many members of the working class and labor eventually responded to the New Democrats’ contempt and policy betrayals and the terrible harms those policies inflicted upon the working class by increasingly refusing to support such Democratic candidates. Frank’s books show that the contempt of the New Democrats for the New Deal, labor, and the working class was and is palpable.…New Economic Perspectives
The Terrible Cost to Democrats and Our Nation of Ignoring Tom Frank’s Warnings
William K. Black | Associate Professor of Economics and Law, UMKC