November 29, 2004

What’s the Matter With Kansas?

What’s The Matter With Kansas?I heard about Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter With Kansas? on The Daily Show shortly after the presidential election. The author caught my interest and I picked up a copy of the book. I found this book to be a great read. He does a good job of looking at historical precedent and taking apart what has changed.

From the book:

A while back the Wall Street Journal ran an essay about a place where hatred trumps bread, where a manipulative ruling class has for decades exploited an impoverished people while simultaneously fostering in them a culture of victimization that steers this people’s fury back persistently toward a shadowy, cosmopolitan Other. In this tragic land unassuageable cultural grievances are elevated inexplicably over solid material ones, and basic economic self-interest is eclipsed by juicy myths of national authenticity and righteousness wronged.

The essay was supposed to be a description of the Arab states in their conflict with Israel, but when I read it I thought immediately of my dear old Kansas…

Frank does not write from the center. He clearly is pro-liberal, pro-union and pro-choice. However, the text does not turn into self-righteous drivel. In fact, he takes issue with the lack of liberal attitudes in the democratic party — pointing out the weakness that now dominates it.


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