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

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

Escrito por Thomas Frank

Narrado por Thomas Frank


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

Escrito por Thomas Frank

Narrado por Thomas Frank

avaliações:
4.5/5 (47 avaliações)
Comprimento:
8 horas
Lançado em:
Mar 15, 2016
ISBN:
9781427267993
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Audiolivro

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Descrição

From the bestselling author of What's the Matter with Kansas, a scathing look at the standard-bearers of liberal politics—an audio-book that asks: what's the matter with Democrats?

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.

With his trademark sardonic wit and lacerating logic, 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. In this critical election year, Frank recalls the Democrats to their historic goals—the only way to reverse the ever—deepening rift between the rich and the poor in America.

A Macmillan Audio production.

Lançado em:
Mar 15, 2016
ISBN:
9781427267993
Formato:
Audiolivro

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Sobre o autor

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.


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  • Shock rocked Democrats after Hillary Clinton's presidential defeat, which quickly turned into the blame game. Who's responsible for this loss? Liberals themselves, says Thomas Frank, who implores Democrats to do some soul searching after abandoning blue-collar workers.

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Avaliações de leitores

  • (3/5)
    I wish there would have been a bit more than three paragraphs about a solution, but overall a great book. Made me think and pissed me off, but made a lot of sense. Recommend for everyone interested in politics, or everyone interested in what's wrong with politics.
  • (3/5)
    As I'm starting Frank's newest volume (Rendezvous with Oblivion), I'm realizing I never posted a review for Listen, Liberal. I've been a long-time reader of Franks, dating back to early-ish Baffler days, and this book continues with his sharp, accurate analysis of our current political climate. My reservation with this book is that, while I think I basically accept his position that the Democratic Party has become a party of professionals, out of touch with the working class, I'm not sure I know where he wants us to go from here - or more to the point, how or if the professional/meritocratic/academic world can coexist in the same party as the older style, working-class oriented left, as it resurges. Race is also a big blind spot for him, and I don't think the role race has in our national politics can really be ignored right now. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with his thoughts and writing at this point in time, but I may just be ready for some newer voices on the subject.
  • (5/5)
    This is a very depressing book. What Frank did to Republicans in [What's the Matter with Kansas?], he's now done to Democrats. And I can't disagree with him at all, more's the pity.
  • (4/5)
    Very well written and eye opening book. It honestly bummed me out a little. I am one of the working class...
  • (4/5)
    Not just the poor but the middle-class as well have been abandoned by the Democratic Party in their rush to embrace the wealthy, innovative, well-educated techno-class that makes up the leaders of Wall Street and Silicon Valley - otherwise known as the top 1%. So where does that leave us, the 99% who aren't hedge fund managers or software moguls? Where is our voice? Who represents us?That's the subject of Listen, Liberal, a grim look at modern political parties and what matters to them. Here's a hint, you don't matter to the modern political parties or to the politicians that comprise them. As far as they're concerned, if you mattered at all you would have gone to a much better school and gotten a much better education than you did. This book is a raw look at the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama regimes and holds an equally pessimistic view of any potential $Hillary government. The rules that have been put in place will continue to benefit the few while the rest of America is left to fend for itself and continue our march toward lower paying jobs or overcrowded prisons. What happens to the country when the middle-class loses it's purchasing power? Who makes money when there are no customers left? These are questions that we need to confront soon, and eight years of continuing on the course we're on will be disastrous.Unfortunately, not many solutions are offered by the author and that's what I found so disappointing - but there are solutions. The rules that are in place that benefit the few aren't natural laws after all and the demise of the middle-class can be prevented if some common sense can be applied to the way justice is meted out. It's going to take a revolution to get anything meaningful accomplished, and lots of hard work will be required to get the "ship of state" back on course towards peace and prosperity.There's something missing from the end of the book, a chapter that remains unwritten, most likely because the author finished writing before it became possible to imagine a challenger to $Hillary and the inevitability of her presidency. My hope is that you will read this book and then vote for the one person who isn't mentioned who offers a different path than the rich get richer, boom and bust, war for profits sake status-quo that we're stuck in. Listen, Liberal... and then Speak Up!
  • (3/5)
    Listen Liberal is a call to arms against a complaisant Democratic party that sold the middle and lower classes of America down the river decades ago. The party of the little guy and unions has given America incredibly unjust three strikes laws and the rise of the private prison industrial complex. Instead of sticking up for unions and employees, Democrats have sold them lock, stock and barrel to their corporate owners. Your job got outsourced to China through no fault of your own? Too bad! You should have been smart enough to graduate from an amazing college with a degree in economics or engineering. The party that was supposed to be on the side of women and children has given us welfare reform, landing even more women and children below the poverty line. The party that was supposed to be wary of deregulation chose to side with their wall street donors. Forgetting to re-regulate Wall Street after the disastrous economic collapse. Never mind actually prosecuting anyone for the near destruction of the global economy. Liberals are amazed that working class people continually vote Republican. But really, what has the Democratic party done in regards to income inequality? What laws have been passed? In what ways has the average American's life been made materially better after sixteen years of Clinton and Obama? The rich have gotten even more glitteringly rich while the rest of us toil away for less and less. For anyone wondering why the Democratic party seems to have lost working class voters, reading this book gives a much needed dose of insight.
  • (3/5)
    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)Like many others, I was shocked and saddened to witness the election of Donald Trump as President last month; and given that the way he won was by tens of millions of people voting for him who had directly voted for Obama in just the last election, I thought it was high time I finally learned a little more about why the American electorate chose to do this in the first place (besides the typical pre-election blowoff that "they're all a bunch of racist Nazis"), and so over the next few months I'll be reading a series of books recommended to me by others that supposedly help explain this. This was the first book of the list to become available at my local library, written by the former founder of Chicago '90s liberal intellectual magazine The Baffler; and it turned out to be half eye-opening, although unfortunately the other half turned out to be eye-rolling, leaving a mixed bag when it comes to whether to recommend it or not.The eye-opening part, and definitely the part most worth your time, is Frank's detailed history of the Democratic Leadership Council, the organization that ultimately put Bill Clinton in the White House but that I and my fellow Generation Xers largely didn't even know existed when we voted for him in 1992. Started in the early 1970s by a group of young idealistic hippie politicians, all of whom had attended college and all of whom received deferments from Vietnam, the group certainly started with noble intentions; tired of the old Democratic Party power base of the rural working class, the very people who supported the war and who continued to drag naked racism well into the '70s, the DLC spent twenty years systematically pushing such people out of the power structure of the party, believing instead that the "New Democrats" (as they called themselves) should be a party of meritocracy, educational excellence, technological innovation and embrace of big business, culminating in the '90s when they got their former leader Clinton elected as President.This is where we get the "neoliberalist" economics that are so rapidly becoming such a villain in the wake of Trump's election win; inspired by the collapse in the '70s of Roosevelt's Keynesian "New Deal" economics into runaway government bureaucracy and hyperinflation, right in the same years the DLC was being formed, neoliberalism instead believes in radical deregulation of markets, the forced end of organized labor, and a "benevolent dictatorship" of elite Ivy-educated technocrats to rule over all the uneducated, mouthbreathing masses (which, to remind you, was originally inspired by a very valid complaint, that these mouthbreathing masses were the people who pushed racism and the Vietnam War way farther into history than either should've existed). And this just happens to be the same things the Republicans believe in too, or at least the Republican Party post-1980 as largely defined by Ronald Reagan; so, as Frank smartly explains, if it sometimes seems here in the 21st century that both parties seem to be made up of the same banker billionaires enacting the same exact blue-collar-punishing policies, that's because they are, a triumph of neoliberalism that was so all-encompassing by the '90s that no one even questioned its existence anymore, which is why I and my Generation X cohorts grew up not understanding that there was even an alternative.All of this is really intelligent stuff, and it's worth reading this book to see how the DLC has pulled the wool over all of our eyes for so long, painting themselves as the "protector of the people" when in fact they have actually been actively hostile to anyone who doesn't have a college degree and doesn't live in a big city, a huge reason that so many self-made white-collar suburbanites turned against the party here in 2016 when it became clear that yet another neoliberal billionaire Ivy-educated technocrat was to be their official nominee. Unfortunately, though, Frank has a lot more to say about the Democrats than this, and that's where he starts getting into eye-rolling rant territory; entire chapters devoted to what a fuckup Obama was, entire chapters devoted to how anyone who's ever been an employee of a tech startup is a sellout monster, entire chapters on how anyone who's ever recommended that a poor person try to get into college is a dead-eyed sociopath who hates the working class, with special amounts of piss and vinegar directed at such individuals as Richard Florida (inventor of the term "creative class"), who Frank attacks in such a vindictive and personal way that he seems less like a political opponent and more like a jilted ex-lover.I have a friend here in Chicago who actually went to college with Frank, and she had an illuminating story to tell me about him; how every time he would attend a party that happened to have the TV on (like an election party or a movie-watching party), he would spend the whole night ranting and raving about each and every single commercial that would air, pointing to the others in the room incredulously and yelling, "Why aren't you people getting outraged about this? Why am I the only person getting outraged about this?" That's exactly what Listen, Liberal comes off as, like a guy who's outraged at basically everything in the world and doesn't have the discipline to focus his arguments in on the things most worth getting mad about, a guy who takes eight years of Obama accomplishments and dismisses them in a single half-sentence (paraphrased, "Sure, he reformed healthcare, got gay marriage legalized, kept the country from going bankrupt during the economic crisis, and managed to get the largest stimulus package in American history passed, but..."), because he's too busy screaming about how every software developer in America is inherently evil, because they took a job away from a noble farmer. To be honest, that's exactly what The Baffler was like when it was being published too, which is why it was never more than a special-interest publication for philosophy majors and hipster radicals; and while Listen, Liberal is recommended for sure, if for nothing else than to get a revealing primer on neoliberalism and why it's the cause of all our current problems, that recommendation unfortunately is a limited one today, a book you need to take with a large grain of salt in order to enjoy it at its fullest.Out of 10: 7.9
  • (3/5)
    I'll start by saying I am probably exactly one of the individuals whom Frank blames the Democratic Party for supporting (ironic because I am one of the vanishingly few moderate Republicans) because I am relatively educated and a member of a "professional class" that Frank rails so fiercely against (I say this not as a brag, humble or otherwise, but to properly place my review). I think prior to November, I would have probably nodded along with many of his assertions. Namely, that the Democratic Party stopped being the party of labor and became the party of the professional class/"experts," but overall I would have dismissed him in the same way that he writes his critics also dismiss him, namely who else is labor going to vote for? However, post-November, I must say that his book is one of the most prescient analysis of the Trump win. I would say that it is probably a better explanation of the election than that which most, if not all, of the post-election commentators provided. I would highly recommend this to anybody who wants insight into the Clinton loss. So why three stars? Mostly because I find the venom with which he writes a little over the top (albeit not necessarily misplaced). Further, I found myself often either thinking "you've made you point, stop beating a dead horse" or letting my mind drift for long periods before having to go back and reread them because he engages in overkill to make his point. Finally, I don't feel like he has any solutions. He argues that the Party wrote off traditional labor in favor of a professional class. In doing so, he seems to believe that the abandonment preceded the weakening of the industry and not the other way around. He appears to argue that programs like retraining are merely extensions of the professional classes belief that education was their path to success so it should be everybody else's as well. I am not sure what his solution is for industries that technology or globalization outpace but it did make me think.Overall, I would recommend that the Democratic Party read this book and take it to heart if they want to win back their role as the party of labor.
  • (5/5)
    Starting with the Carter administration this is a look at how the Democratic party pulled away from its working class base and turned toward the people with money. It gives a history of the change and the affect it had on the middle class and politics up through today. I got mad as I read it and had to put it down several times. I understood what was said. Mr. Frank kept it simple and, at times, humor poked through. I wish I would have been more politically aware when I was younger and understood what was happening and how it would impact me and my world. Worth the read!
  • (4/5)
    What book to read during the conventions. Backs up his statements about the policies of the Democratic Party with real sources. I learned a lot and I think I'm a pretty educated person. The Democratic party has not maintained it's relationship with the middle class and the working class. somehow, education only applies if you have gone to an elite college. Many will find offense but I found that I need to be more involved . This is a an easy to read book. The politics are spot on for this time period and I would recommend to anyone conservative or liberal who wants to see the politics in a clearer light.
  • (4/5)
    I received a free advanced reading copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.Thomas Frank asks the question - if the Democrats have held the Presidency for 16 of the last 24 years, and have the demographic majority to take full control of the country, and have been in control in many states and regions for some time, why is it that the middle and working class continue in steep decline while Wall Street gets bailouts and the rich get richer? The answer is that the Democrats have abandoned their traditional base of working class people and organized labor, instead becoming enamored with what Frank calls the professional class. These are the wealthy and well-educated people credited as being "creative" and "innovators" and who are called upon to resolve problems with their innate brilliance on a revolving door among prominent universities, corporate boardrooms, and political office. Meritocracy is baked into this idea of the professional class with the people who've succeeded being credited with working hard to earn their degrees and get to the place where they are (with the unspoken counter being that those who fail and are poor can only blame themselves for not trying hard enough).Frank traces the Democrats connection to the professional class to the wake of the troubled 1968 election when Democratic leaders made a conscious decision to move away from their traditional base of organized labor and working people (assuming that these people would have to vote Democratic anyway). The Democrats lost several Presidential elections over the 1970s & 1980s and the assumption for party insiders was always that they were always too Liberal and moved the party further to the right. The core of the book is several chapters about the 1990s and Bill Clinton where the Democrats finally could win again and the professional class took control of the reins of government. Only Nixon could go to China, and only Clinton could ratify NAFTA, approve the sweeping crime bill, dismantle the social safety net of welfare, and other things that had been on the Republican wishlist for decades. Frank even details negotiations between Clinton and Newt Gingrich to privatize Social Security, the cornerstone of the abandoned New Deal, that were only scuttled due to the impeachment proceedings against Clinton. With only professionals represented in the Clinton government, alternatives were not considered, and all problems were resolved by doing what would most benefit the professional class. Frank also covers the Barack Obama presidency where Obama was swept in to power on a populist movement in the wake of the financial crisis. Frank notes that Obama had the powers to punish those responsible for the Great Recession, but instead chose to bring Wall Street professional class "innovators" into the government to regulate themselves and work towards bipartisan consensus with the Republicans who were clearly not interested. The presumptive 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is described as someone working to advance women's equality, but doing so in a narrow way that only sees women working hard to become successful "entrepreneurs" (another variation on the meritocracy of the professional class) and working class women are just not seen at her events or in her policies. The book also details how the place where the New Democrat ethos of the professional class has had it's greatest implementation - Massachusetts - is emblematic of this reverence of the "creative class," and also why the state has the greatest level of inequality in the nation.This book does an excellent job of explicating what has happened in the Democratic party over the last several decades where it's gotten to a point that a lot of their ideology is indistinguishable from Republicans and the large portion of Americans have suffered as a result. The year's still young, but I think this is going to be one of the most important books of the year and I suggest that everyone should read it.
  • (4/5)
    Many of us will have to take off our defensive hats and absorb the blows provided by this strongly anti-Clinton and Obama administration diatribe. The author has had it with "neo-liberals" and Third Way centrists, as represented now by Hillary Clinton.His premise is that the Democratic Party shit on unions to become the defenders of the professional/innovative/"creative" classes - Google execs, Rahm Emanuel, Goldman Sachs banksters, and their ilk. His chapters on Bill Clinton's welfare takedown and NAFTA cheerleading, his rabid incarceration and his love of compromising with Republicans, are very persuasive. What he can't explain is why that led to a period of incredible prosperity - except, of course, for blue collar workers just starting to take it on the chin.Resident evils cited (and not fought against by the Obama administration) are the two-class system, with younger workers never able to achieve the benefits or salaries of their older grandfathered comrades, their conviction of the meritocracy based upon Ivy League cred (Larry Summers: "One of the reasons the inequality has probably gone up in our society is that people are being treated closer to the way that they're supposed to be treated."), the deference shown to Wall Street and need to trust them because they understand complex finance and we don't. As Frank states, "Not only is it more profitable to make your living by speculation than by working, but it puts you above the law as well."The Obama administration is lauded for health insurance reform and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but taken to task for ignoring income inequality and the demise of labor unions vs the constant touting of the record highs of the Dow, which only enriches that already favored class. Elizabeth Warren: "The President chose his team, and when there was only so much time and money to go around, the President's team chose Wall Street."Timothy Geithner on the original Bush bank bailout measure: "The banks can handle ten million foreclosures - this program will foam the runway for them.""Warren had challenged Geithner on how the program would help homeowners. Geithner had responded by citing how it would help the banks."And on my own beloved Massachusetts: "Boston is the headquarters for two industries that are steadily bankrupting middle America: big learning and big medicine. Once the visitor leads the brainy bustle of Boston, this state is filled with wreckage - former manufacturing towns, with workers watching their way of life drain away, with cities that are little more than warehouses for people on Medicare."OW. THE TRUTH HURTS.The book's main failings are ignoring the even worse plight of people of color, and of not presenting any kind of suggestions for changing the future other than abandoning both political parties (no Bernie mentioned).
  • (5/5)
    Crucial read. Highly recommend to all learning more about politics!
  • (4/5)
    So, I guess we won’t be hearing about this on MSNBC?
  • (3/5)
    I was a great fan of Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas” and so when I had the opportunity to read “Listen, Liberal” I hoped and assumed I would have a similar response. Personally, I was very disappointed. Perhaps the problem is mine, not his. I’m still trying to work that out. I had lived in Kansas for a number of years when I read the first book, and recognized what he was writing about was ‘spot-on.’ The book “Listen, Liberal” is highly critical of the life I have pursued the past 20 plus years, successfully, I might add. To me, it reads like a consultant’s fourth book that was written for the money and to use to promote further consulting work and to sell on the stump. It is not that it isn’t well done, it is. My point is the negativity that underlies the entire premise of the book, the concepts it ‘picks on’ (for lack of a better term) and the total lack of any prescription to correct the issues addresses as ‘failures’ - totally turned me off. I read a short column by Elizabeth Warren, earlier today, that had more good ideas to actually cure the ‘problems’ addressed in this book than were included in the entire book. He could easily have included a positive chapter of future actions to pursue. In my opinion, he failed to do that, and that was very disappointing. I would also like to suggest, to Mr. Frank, consideration of the fact that the jobs that have ‘disappeared’ to create the inequality he laments, may have actually been another ‘bubble’ - not unlike those he discusses (but before ‘bubbles’ were commonly talked about). This one was at least partially created by the supporters of the ‘traditional’ Democratic Party supporters, unions, etc. that artificially created the ‘middle class’ following WWII which was simply not sustainable - like the Internet bubble, the Housing bubble, etc. I still recommend this book to interested readers. It will get you to thinking about the issues. It may even upset you, as it did me.
  • (3/5)
    Frank is sharply critical of the turn the Democratic Party has taken from the New Deal to the New Democrats of the 1990s – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in particular. He laments the fact the one-time party of the people – largely supported by the working class – have deserted those voters and become the party of the educated class. He blames the success of the Democratic Leadership Council, largely southern white Democrats from shifting the party’s priorities to balanced budgets, free-trade, and related pro-growth policies. These are policies that have encouraged income inequality, what he terms as the “leading social issue of the times…” He criticizes the failure of Democrats in both the White House and Congress to hold accountable Wall Street for the fiscal meltdown. Democrats have now made higher education its goal so we can compete in the new global economy. While these are all valid criticisms, he fails to clearly identify a way forward for Democrats to reclaim the working class and end income inequality. He believes Democrats need to return to their historic goals so clearly established by FDR, including strengthening labor unions. I fail to see a realistic way for the US to redevelop its manufacturing base in this global economy and desire by many American consumers to continue to base purchases on price alone. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have done something to reign in Wall Street or figure out a fairer free-trade deal. But I think he takes a step back from political reality. He argues in another book that voters continue to vote against their self-interest which gave rise to the strength of the Republican party in congressional and state elections. He offers no solution to our failure to vote for our self-interest.
  • (4/5)
    Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal: or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People Frank is correct about the problems confronting the United States, especially growing economic inequality, poverty, shrinking opportunities for the bottom 90% of the population, and inadequate government efforts to mitigate these. Indeed, he has addressed these problems in earlier publications. His statement (p.217) that these tragedies are not due to natural and inexorable economic systems but to human decisions, rules, and laws is a lesson we are still learning and I hope he will spend more time on this point in the future. His specification of the cause – the Democratic Party’s identification with technocratic, meritocratic, and economic elites, the so-called “liberal class” - is excessively general and lacks identification of possible solutions. Frank gets so much right, especially growing inequality that comes from pressing down upon workers. But he slights the fact that the traditional, organized, working-class is a much smaller proportion of the population and electorate than in the 1930s through 1960s. He is absolutely right that education alone cannot ensure decent employment and fair wages, but slights (p.176 ff.) that when it has been in power the Republican Party has consistently used public policy to support corporate rules that have harmed unions and workers in general. Frank tends to ignore the deep divisions and divides in American government, culture, and religious life. He slights the shifting bases of both parties and does not address how traditionally active constituencies have pushed both parties to support specific policies. Yes, Democratic elites were often indifferent to the working class, but corporate and private power – which needs much more analysis in this book – and the great Republican “No,” as illustrated by opposition to Keynesian policy in 2009 and today’s unwillingness to hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee for an open Supreme Court seat, also account for our troubles. The politicalization we are experiencing is unprecedented since before the Civil War. There is virtually no mention in this book of conservatism, conventional wisdom, misogyny, racism, or the undermining of constitutional principles and cooperation between branches of government. I am neither a friend of Bill’s nor a blind opponent, but in Frank’s disappointment that more was not done to address our problems he implies that nothing was done during Clinton's eight year tenure as president. Frank’s much deprecated Democratic emphasis on innovation is right that “innovation” has increasingly become an empty shamanistic evocation of a better life rather than public policy to create jobs, but “innovation” is one policy that the Republican Party is less likely to oppose. I also question if “professional-class liberalism” is the only form of liberalism with a chance at power. The primary question remains unanswered: what is to be done? Addressing our problems depends at least in part on correctly analyzing causes. Frank gives us only part of the answer.
  • (4/5)
    Wow. Even allowing for exaggeration (Frank, a truly outraged liberal, piles the vituperation on here with all the fury of a betrayed lover) this is a dismaying expose of the failures of the Democratic party. And I'll admit, to my shame, that I would probably have written him off as a disgruntled radical before last month's presidential election. That was an eye-opener, though, and now, along, I assume, with many others, I'm open to taking a closer look at where and how the Democrats lost credibility with so many of the union members and other blue collar workers who, until recently, were their faithful supporters. I listened to this as an audiobook, read by the author, and while that was a plus in that he reads with great expression and conviction (and he has a fine, clear voice), it was a drawback for pretty much the same reason (well, except the fine voice part). He does a lot of ranting, and he tends to go on and on about things long past the point where you want to say, “All right! I get it. Now can we move on?” If I'd been reading the book myself I'd have skimmed these places. But still...His big point is that the Democrats have ignored the issue of income inequality, having written it off as an inescapable side effect of the “new economy,” and that their love these days is all for “professionals” (meaning, doctors, lawyers, bankers, and, most of all, technology entrepreneurs). Since I've tended to buy into the idea of the inevitability of the loss of certain industries and the need for education to help workers prepare for employment in new fields myself, I found his tirades more tolerable and even convicting than I normally would have. I definitely disagreed with him, or at least doubted him, on some points, but he gave me things to consider and to dig into more deeply. The book's conclusion will give a better idea than my words of what Frank is on about.”This book has been a catalog of the many ways the Democratic party has failed to tackle income inequality, even though that is the leading social issue of the times, and its many failures to get tough with the financial industry, even though Wall Street was the leading culprit in the global downturn and the slump that never ends. The larger message is that this is what it looks like when a leftish party loses its concern in working people, the traditional number one constituency for left parties the world over. But we should also acknowledge the views of the people for whom the Democrats are all you could ask for in a political party. I'm thinking here of the summertime residents on Martha's Vineyard. The sorts of people to whom the politicians listen with patience and understanding. No one treats this group as though they have “nowhere else to go.” On the contrary, for them the political process works wonderfully. It's responsive to their concerns, its representatives are respectful, and the party as a whole treats them with a gratifying deference. For them the Democrats deliver in all the conventional ways: generous subsidies for the right kinds of businesses, a favorable regulatory climate, and legal protections for their innovations...While there are many great Democrats and many exceptions to the trends I've described in this book, by and large the story has been a disappointing one. We have surveyed this party's thoughts and deeds from the 70's to the present. We've watched them abandon whole classes and regions and industries, and we know now what the results have been. Their leadership faction has no intention of doing what the situation requires. It's time to face the obvious: that the direction that the Democrats have chosen to follow for the last few decades has been a failure for both the nation and for their own partisan health. Failure is admittedly a harsh word, but what else are we to call it when the left party in a system chooses to confront an epic economic breakdown by talking hopefully about entrepreneurship and innovation? When the party of professionals repeatedly falls for bad, self-serving ideas like bank deregulation, the creative class, and empowerment through microlending? When the party of the common man basically allows aristocracy to return?Now, all political parties are alliances of groups with disparate interests, but the contradictions in the Democratic party coalition seem unusually sharp. The Democrats' posture as the “party of the people,” even as they dedicate themselves ever more resolutely to serving and glorifying the professional class. Worse, they combine self-righteousness and class privilege in a way that Americans find stomach turning. And every two years they simply assume that being non-Republican is sufficient to rally the voters of the nation to their standard. This cannot go on.”This was published in March of 2016. Now, in early December, the Democratic party has been knocked down in a way that makes reevaluation of its priorities and positions seem more likely. And I hope it will. We need (at least) two viable parties in this country, and the diatribes of critics like Frank are a valuable check to easy assumptions about the “inevitabilities” of what “markets” or “the times” mandate. The long rants had me ready to give this three stars, but, then, it made me think about some things I've not given much thought to and I'm giving it four.
  • (5/5)
    This book is a great companion piece to the books “American History in Ten Strikes” and “A Crisis Wasted.”

    The Democratic Party has worked to screw its own base. The Republicans are inflaming theirs.
  • (5/5)
    There is one (horrifying) theme in Listen Liberal. It is that the Democratic Party has betrayed its natural constituency of labor, and is constantly trying (and succeeding) to outrun Republicans by doing more damage to the social structure than Republicans profess, thus stealing their thunder. “It has become Democratic thinking that the common people are at last being treated as they deserve to be.” They do it with “professionals”. Frank has filled this entire book with evidence of this one point.The difference between Republicans and Democrats ain’t what it used to be, according to Frank. The Democrats have decided to put all their eggs in one basket: professionals. They staff their offices with them, just like the Republicans use only lawyers from the Federalist Society. Their backers are Wall Streeters, because the Democrats are at least as generous to Wall Street as the Republicans when in power. For the wealthy, it’s a win-win. Doesn’t matter who gets in. So while Republicans consider their base the uneducated, bootstrap entrepreneurs who create jobs, the Democrats consider their base the highly educated, networked professionals who create jobs. Two sides of the same coin. And neither one can be bothered with the rest of the population except when vote-gathering. Then, for a brief period, it’s all about inequality and jobs.Frank focuses on the last two Democratic presidents, Clinton and Obama, and the upcoming contender – Hillary Clinton. He autopsies their administrations (and Hillary’s part in them) and finds them all the same – mouthing platitudes to gain votes from the electorate, then reverting to type and removing any and all support for them so they can to deliver on promises made to the rich. It was Bill Clinton who dismantled welfare and Glass-Steagle, not either Bush.I particularly appreciated Frank’s discussion of glass ceilings – in terms of floors. While the Hillary Clintons of the world rail about glass ceilings, it was her Democrat husband president who removed the floor for mothers on welfare, creating extreme poverty where once there was a safety net. While Hillary grandly supports microloans for women (which do not work, other than to create more debtors and richer bankers), when in power, it’s all about supporting the rich at the expense of the poor. Garden variety hypocrisy, but coming from a Democrat, and about Democrats, it’s supposedly shocking.Frank is overwhelmed by the Democrats’ adoption of professionals. Democrats think professionals can solve any problem, and every position is filled with one. Every event showcases them. Doesn’t matter that they have no real world experience; the fact they are professionals means they are highly educated creatives. That’s all that matters in a Democratic government. So to be disappointed in the Obama Administration is to show yourself as not being a professional.It wasn’t always so. Frank shows that FDR’s Democratic cabinet had poorly educated secretaries who had street smarts, real life experience, and ideals. They could propose innovative programs that addressed real problems. And if they didn’t work, they had another idea waiting. His VP Harry Truman never went to college. Truman couldn’t even get an interview today. The Democrats’ solution to every problem is go back to school, preferably Harvard, Yale or Stanford, and every door will open for you. All you laborers – you’re fooling yourselves. Get an education and become professionals, because America doesn’t need or want anyone else.Listen Liberal is a damning, upsetting polemic from a passionate, experienced insider. You might think it would make excellent fodder for a Republican. But it is actually a sad reflection of what has become of the country and its politics. Two sides of the same coin is not healthy. Someone needs to represent the 99%.David Wineberg
  • (4/5)
    I love the fact that Thomas Frank has finally got around to what I believe many of us liberals have been wondering? How the hell did the party of FDR go from being nearly 180 degrees different from conservative Republicans to about 45 degrees today? It's been so easy for us to see the rich pandering of the Neo-cons that when 'our side' finally came to power and the economy seemed to be booming under Clinton we thought good days were coming again. Well I think Frank hits the nail on the head when he 'reveals' that today's Democrats no longer give a damn about people that work for a living. Education will save us all, but when college costs rise at ridiculous rates compared with inflation we are left with piles of debt and crappy low paying jobs for the majority of the nation. Perhaps someday we'll have the slate wiped clean and the mega rich 'job creators' will realize if you don't pay your workers a decent wage they won't be able to purchase your products. Frank has done an excellent job showing that not only is the income gap growing but the 2 party's are starting to look a lot alike where it really matters (i.e. not social issues).