I truly don’t know where to start with quotes from Thomas Frank’s latest book “Listen, Liberal” (2016). I can honestly say that what I have read over the past two weeks as I hunker down to the end of this depressing tale of facts and truths has been disconcerting to say the least. What I learnt about Bill Clinton’s presidency two chapters ago left me with despair. I did try hard not to be angry in my writing during that revelation. Maybe I failed some days in this regard. I hope I can bring myself to type some of the awful truths from Frank’s book in future posts.
But for today and tonight – its Obama. My despair grows as Frank confirms what I have come to understand to be true for quite some time now. I guess many of us have, but it seems to be a subject that can not be spoken about. The general response always seems to be – oh, the Republicans obstructed him. If only the Republicans had not obstructed him, things would have been different. Well, I am afraid to say that just isn’t so. It is so much more than that.
The first shot of despair happened last night when Frank opened the book on the fact that Obama was signed, sealed, and delivered by Wall Street. No wonder everything that I have read since this discovery is tainted by that understanding.
In any case I will begin at an extract from p.147 – my reading page tonight which is talking about the time just after the last financial crisis.
“If this was a modern-day New Deal, it was a timid iteration that was not particularly concerned with the big-picture deterioration of average people’s economic situation – the wages that never grew, the rising incomes that always went to someone else. In terms of rhetoric, Barack Obama could be an eloquent champion of these people and their problems, it is thanks in part to his speeches that “inequality” became a mainstream political issue at all. But in terms of deeds, the Obama administration repeatedly sacrificed working people’s interests in service of some greater goal, or for what Washington called “optics” or for no discernible reasons at all.
Things didn’t go down this way because helping average citizens during hard times is a utopian dream, but rather because those citizens’ interests conflicted with the interests of the upper strata. A choice between the two had to be made, and Obama made it”
You can deny it, justify it, be angry about it. In fact anyone reading this can do anything they want with it. But I am not going to deceive myself anymore. The New Democratic Party that turned its back on its base camp around the time of Clinton’s presidency (the workers for the most part) is about one step removed from the Republican Party at this point in time. That’s not to say that moving forward there may be hope and reform. Time will tell.
More quotes will follow from Franks’ book. And if you don’t believe me, I suggest reading the book and looking at the extensive references for yourself.
Frank is never easy reading for me. I despaired through “What’s the Matter With Kansas” and to be honest have not finished the book. It was too depressing. But I will return to it. What is the point staying in the dark? I am also part way through “The Wrecking Crew” – the Republican Party’s reign of horror.
So my take on things – American politics is the horror. Is it any wonder that the day to day expression of this is just some more of the horror and a little bit more.