Technocrats Ruined America: Liberal Heretic Thomas Frank Calls Out Other Liberals with The Book That Cost Him His Job!
"Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?" By Thomas Frank and reviewed by Eric Renderking Fisk | October 4th, 2018
A Liberal Introduction.
Thomas Frank explains how the Technocrat / neoliberals candidates have alienated voters across a broad spectrum and why they kept losing elections for more than 40 years. This book was published in March of 2016 and accurately predicts WHY Hillary Clinton lost almost 8 months later in the general election in the following November. This book also explains how and why neoliberals candidates will continue losing elections in decades to come unless Republicans do something fundamentally stupid.
This is a powerful and explosive book that makes you stop and think about what he claims. He makes the reader or listener (thanks Audible) understand the animosity and hatred between the two different classes and class warfare within the Democratic Party. Why do the professional, well-educated members of the DNC loath the working class within the same political affiliation? How did so many of the activists within the “liberal party” become such cold warriors in the culture war? Thomas Frank shares his answers to the question of why there is such hate and rage from “the left” and how Republicans aren’t only to blame for their anger. Some of that anger in the DNC comes from the leadership of the DNC during the past 40 or 50 years.
Before we go a little too crazy, let's acknowledge that there are plenty of books that explore how politicians on "The Right" are also responsible for this country's problems. He's written almost a dozen of them and he was a darling of the left for doing so. This is the one book that he wrote that critiqued his own, and it cost him. According to an interview with Jimmy Dore, Mr. Frank can no longer find a job working in journalism in The United States and had to go as far as England to find employment.
The Killing of FDR’s Legacy
One of the mantras practiced in this book by Mr. Frank is “They were out to kill FDR’s legacy and ‘The New Deal.’ That’s what the Technocrats and Neoliberals preached, and they practiced it by undoing everything FDR did to save the country such as repealing the Glass-Steagall Banking Laws.
Tomas Frank claims it was the task of the Anti-Vietnam/Counter Culture era party leaders of Democratic Party to dismantle the “Roosevelt New Deal” from the 1930’s and dismantle the establishment created by “The Greatest Generation” upon their return home after the end of The Second World War.
The Anti-Vietnam War generation who went off to college for deferments were taught by their professors, peers, literature written by leaders in the counter-culture movement, that everything that came before them is bad and needs to be extinguished. They were taught that their parents’ generations and rural values were bad and evil and were the cause of all the worlds problems, everyone who lived by traditional values of the rural area was wrong and then needed to be confronted and corrected.
The Anti-Vietnam/Counter Culture era who became Well-Graduated Professional class was taught to hate and mock everyone who didn’t go to college and treat those people as deficient. There’s something “wrong with you” if you didn’t go to a “good college” as they did. There is also a loathing against “traditionalists” that has integrated into our culture via books, movies, social media. Once people like Mr. Frank points out the bias, you can’t help but see and hear it everywhere. They have been taught to believe that anyone who likes anything from the jazz era decades beyond the shallow and superficial then you “must” be a horrible person. Or just old and just needs to die.
How did the technocrats and neoliberals s in the DNC trash and demolish the accomplishments of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and “The New Deal?” while sighting all the great accomplishments of FDR and “The New Deal” when they needed to explain why old Democrats needed to vote for new Democrats?
They just did it, with varying results.
You Didn’t Do That, Somebody Else Made That Happen.
The Democratic Party as it exists now cannot and should not take credit for the accomplishments of the Democratic Party of the first half of the 20th Century. They can not say “these are all the great things liberals have done in the past 250 years! And since we call ourselves liberals, you should vote for us, too!” while at the same time these same technocrat / neoliberals s dismantle and undo the very things they take credit for doing.
Specifically, they can’t tout the accomplishments of FDR when they’ve been really busy undoing all the great things done under FDR’s leadership. The perfect example is the Glass-Stegall Banking Act that was put into law under FDR but repealed by the “same” political party under Bill Clinton.
When neoliberals take credit for what liberals accomplished, it's fair to say "You didn't do that, someone else made that happen."
Thomas makes the case that the Working Class was hurt more when Democrats acted more like Republicans than actual stereotypical Republicans by citing example after example of how The Clinton Administration “fixed” Welfare and many social programs that kept the poor in The United States poor or made them worse off. There is also the examples of “Union Busting” under Clinton. Frank, a former Clinton Supporter, continues to then site many more examples of how The Clinton Administration created many of the economic and social problems The United States and the rest of the world are still fixing in the 2010’s and Mr. Frank explains how you cannot blame just Republicans and The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
Clinton’s faults belong to him and the “Well-Graduated, Accredited Professional Elite” in his cabinet. Period.
“Listen, Liberal” shares with us Thomas Frank’s belief that how there are so few differences between Republicans and Democrats now that the only difference between the two parties over disagreements on a few mere social issues and values. To Frank, modern Republicans and modern Democrats want the same exact things such as the expanded growth of the government, military, and pander to their special interests groups while haggling over gun rights and gay marriage.
And then Thomas Frank goes after Barack Obama harshly. Mr. Frank is brutal when it comes to voicing his disgust at the movement that ran on “Hope and Change” which only served to bail out the banks, not prosecute the bankers that caused the economic crash of 2008, expand the war on terror started under Bush, and allowed tech giants like Google and Facebook to make record profits while censoring free speech on the Internet.
And of course, thanks to the Technocrats and neoliberals s we have legalized gay marriage, legal marijuana in many states, The Affordable Care Act, new hate crime laws, but Mr. Frank addresses the smokescreen effect. While we’re celebrating that progress, what else has happened? Expanded War Powers acts, citizen surveillance in a growing militarized police state, executive compensation has exploded while workers’ wages have stagnated.
It’s is maddening how successful Technocrat / neoliberals politicians like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama can balance two conflicting concepts and contradictory statements on a fulcrum of either nuance or deception and get away with it with voters. It’s also frustrating for me as a writer reading how Mr. Frank can explain how they do it and make sense! I am envious.
Eric’s Conclusion: The Parts Of “Listen, Liberal” that sucked.
His biggest problem throughout this book is that he offers an escape hatch for some "liberals" who can say, 'well at least, that's not me because I'm not one of those phoneys, I'm a real liberal.' Frank doesn't go far enough to make it harder for those readers to delude themselves with false hope. You can't fix the problem if you can't address the problem and sometimes the problem is you! This is a painfully blunt book with some harsh truths that are hard for some to swallow, impossible to digest for others. But he offers just a little sip of water to help a few troubled souls gag it down. It's OK, it's not you, it's them! Thus lubricating more book sales.
While it’s the best book I’ve ever read that explains the schizophrenic balancing act so many politicians on the left try to perform and how all politicians fool us into believing that they really care for us as they bite their lower lip and fake a tear, it left me angry with solutions that just aren’t going to happen. This is a serious yet someone entertaining, laugh-out-loud history lesson on how “The Left” has screwed us and how we’re never going to get unscrewed because we’re handcuffed this Two-Party system that’s addicted to elitism and cooperate donations. We are not going to fight fire with fire against the system that owns all the matches and gas!
We know we’re in a lot of trouble and we have a better understanding of how and why? What’s the answer, what’s the solution to all this? There is none. America is doomed. This is the end of The Republic of The United States of America because the solutions he offers are either impossible or improbable to implement.
This isn't an instruction manual on how to save America, Frank only offers a corners report after his autopsy.
The conclusion that a reader can draw from this is that there are traditional liberals who genuinely care about civil rights issues, and there are the other liberals who would be indistinguishable from capitalistic conservatives, except the neoliberals shield themselves from criticism by using virtue signaling and instigating victimhood status to those who they pander to for vote as society and it’s infrastructure continues to crumble apart.
* The definitions above for "Technocrat" and "neoliberals " were copied from Wikipedia.
The Washington Post: A neoliberals 's Manifesto By Charles Peters | September 5, 1982
The Atlantic Monthly: When People Were Proud to Call Themselves ‘Neoliberal’ Tracking the evolution of one political label to understand why others come and go JOHN MCWHORTER MAY 30, 2017
Salon: Clintonism screwed the Democrats: How Bill, Hillary and the Democratic Leadership Council gutted progressivism," PAUL ROSENBERG | APRIL 30, 2016 7:30PM (UTC)
Chicago Reader: "Liberals are finally listening to Thomas Frank about what’s wrong with the Democratic Party The author of Listen Liberal looks prescient in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory." By Ryan Smith
In These Times: "Thomas Frank on How Democrats Went From Being the ‘Party of the People’ to the Party of Rich Elites -Democrats have gone from the party of the New Deal to a party that is defending mass inequality." BY TOBITA CHOW | APRIL 26, 2016
The New York Times: ‘Listen, Liberal’ and ‘The Limousine Liberal’ - By Beverly Gage April 26, 2016