Friday, August 10, 2018

Why Is Thomas Frank Puzzled?


A Bernie Sanders event in Madison, Wisconsin during the 2016 Democratic Party primary (click to enlarge)

by Gaius Publius

“I wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it.”

I want to take just a few minutes to reflect on Thomas Frank's bepuzzlement, as expressed in his recent exit piece in the Guardian. (Frank is off to write "a few books" and will return in a few years to "see how things have gone." Those will be interesting years.)

His problem is this: "[U]nderstanding the perversity of rightwing populism only brought me to another mystery: the continuing failure of liberals to defeat this thing ... My brain twirls to think that rightwing populism is still running strong in 2018 ... that the invective and the journalism and the TV shows and all the mournful books about the decline of the middle class have amounted, basically, to nothing."

He lays that failure, correctly, at the feet of the Democratic Party, which had the perfect opportunity in 2008 to reverse course, and didn't. Which left the "task of capturing public anger" to Donald Trump.

"We're going to pay for that failure for a long time," he says, then professes not to know why it happened:
For all their cunning, Republicans are a known quantity. Democrats, however, remain a mystery. We watch them hesitate at crucial moments, betray the movements that support them, and even try to suppress the leaders and ideas that generate any kind of populist electricity. Not only do they seem uninterested in doing their duty toward the middle class, but sometimes we suspect they don’t even want to win.
As evidence of his suspicion, he quotes Tony Blair (see the top of this piece). Then instead of saying why all this happened, why the Democrats betrayed their roots, historical and grass, he turns instead to a plea: "Beating the right cannot simply be a matter of waiting for a dolt in the Oval Office to screw things up. There has to be a plan for actively challenging and reversing it".

And there he ends. Which leads me to ask, why is he puzzled? He already knows the answer.

Tony Blair would rather lose to conservatives than to progressives in his own party. It's the same in this country, where 2016 Democratic leaders, in their wisdom and hubris, were more determined to throw the dice with Clinton, who could not fill a gymnasium, than pick the candidate their voting base packed stadiums to see.

We are indeed a nation in crisis (again). That crisis, that revolutionary discussion about the shape of our next constitution, our next agreement between government and the people, is not resolved. The radical right is in ascendance and will soon take complete and lasting control of the Supreme Court unless Democrats block their candidate and stop them.

Will a completion of the radical rightwing agenda resolve this crisis and create a government most of us can live under? Of course not. The truly radical right — a small handful of people — is vastly outnumbered by those opposed to its ideas. No one, not even Republican voters, will live under the government this minority is determined to create.

Will a return to neoliberal rule, to Obamism and Clintonism, create a stable order? Again, no. It's precisely that order that people in both parties rose to resist. The rebellion against that order, unheeded by Democratic Party leaders, created the opening the radical right just exploited.

Even a Sanders-style government, supported by the masses as FDR's government was, will face a counter-rebellion, this time by the dethroned rich — and I strongly suspect the Obamists and Clintonists in the Democratic Party would join that "resistance" as eagerly as they join the present one.

So what is Thomas Frank puzzled about? Isn't he really asking, why do the forces of money hate the people?

Because if he had asked that question, he wouldn't be puzzled at all. His book provides all the answers anyone need.


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At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easy. Thomas Frank is puzzled because he's a total dipshit.

And, BTW GP, thanks again for completely validating everything I've been posting here and elsewhere for the past 15 or so years. If I could write as well as you do, I could have written this thing myself.

The answer to everyone's puzzlement is this: money.

The democraps don't give one flying fuck about people unless they make a minimum of 5-figure donations to their PACS and party.

The Nazis don't either, but you have to understand the truly limited potential of all of their voters. All the Nazis need do to get their tribe to fog a mirror is give them at least one group to hate. The germans were given the jews. We have them, women, meskins, blacks, muslims, gays, the poor, the old and kids to pick from... because they all cost money to keep alive and/or want their rights protected... and the Nazi voters don't want them to have rights nor to spend a nickel of their own money to keep anyone else alive.

OTOH, the assumed greater potential of the voters on the left is betrayed as folly by their continued belief that the democraps will eventually realize their dalliance with big money is wrong and will snap back to the party of FDR... if only we keep electing them over and over and over and over and....

After the debacle of Clinton (CFMA, GLBA, NAFTA, GATT, WTO, deregs of telecoms and banks...) led to 2008, and the bigger debacle of obamanation IN 2008, a sentient being would have to conclude that the 'craps are a sunk cost. But no... the left retains the religious belief that they'll change (back) if only...

They won't.

Which leads me to my bepuzzlement. Why are **ALL** americans so goddamn stupid?

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

{The truly radical right — a small handful of people — is vastly outnumbered by those opposed to its ideas. No one, not even Republican voters, will live under the government this minority is determined to create. }

Hmmm...Really? What will the majority do? Have a digital revolution on their iphones? I'm afraid the majority frog is already beyond the point of knowing that hot water is life threatening. Trump is running his family business in the White House and the majority thinks this is tolerable. If nothings happened now, there are no use for claiming tipping points.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The truly radical right — a small handful of people — is vastly outnumbered by those opposed to its ideas."

The vast sums of the truly radical right — a massive amount of pelf growing larger through "tax reform" — vastly outnumber the pittances owned by those opposed to corporatist ideals. One dollar, one vote rules our elections.


Money is speech, and no single person speaks louder that Jeff Bezos even when one discounts his owning The Washington Post and his side job of being a CIA asset.


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