"America’s financial and political establishment has always been most terrified of an inclusive underclass movement. So it evangelizes a bizarre transgressive politics that tells white conservatives to fuck themselves and embraces a leftist sub-theology that preaches class as a racist canard." -Matt Taibbi
Matt Taibbi has written one hell of a book review in advance of a Friday podcast interview with author Thomas Frank, whose new book "The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism" is currently Amazon's #1 new release in 'radical political thought.'
Frank, according to Taibbi, not only predicted the current culture war we currently find ourselves in - he's hit the nail on the head once again when it comes to the left's inability to learn from their mistakes - after the party abandoned blue-collar America for condescending, coastal intellectuals.
Frank published What’s the Matter with Kansas? in 2004, at the height of the George W. Bush presidency. The Iraq War was already looking like a disaster, but the Democratic Party was helpless to take advantage, a fact the opinion-shaping class on the coasts found puzzling. Blue-staters felt sure they’d conquered the electoral failure problem in the nineties, when a combination of Bill Clinton’s Arkansas twang, policy pandering (a middle-class tax cut!) and a heavy dose of unsubtle race politics (e.g. ending welfare “as we know it”) appeared to cut the heart out of the Republican “Southern strategy.”
Yet Clinton’s chosen successor Al Gore flopped, the party’s latest Kennedy wannabe, John Kerry, did worse, and by the mid-2000s, Bushian conservatism was culturally ascendant, despite obvious failures. Every gathering of self-described liberals back then devolved into the same sad-faced anthropological speculation about Republicans: “Why do they vote against their own interests?” -Matt Taibbi
And instead of trying to actually figure out what motivates voters from poor swaths of America, the left has chalked it up to 'racial animus and Christian superstition.'
Taibbi further notes: "The Kansas title alone spoke to one of Frank’s central observations: while red state voters might frame objections in terms of issues like abortion or busing, in a broader sense the Republican voter is recoiling from urban liberal condescension."
That Democrats needed Thomas Frank to tell them what conservatives fifteen miles outside the cities were thinking was damning in itself. Even worse was the basically unbroken string of insults emanating from pop culture (including from magazines like Rolling Stone: I was very guilty of this) describing life between the cities as a prole horror peopled by obese, Bible-thumping dolts who couldn’t navigate a Thai menu and polished gun lockers instead of reading.
Republicans may have controlled government at the time, but when they turned on TV sets or looked up at movie screens, their voters felt accused of something just for living in little towns, raising kids, and visiting church on Sundays. What’s the matter, they were asking, with that? -Matt Taibbi
And since the 2016 US election, instead of introspection over why Trump resonates with blue-collar America, the left has learned nothing.
After 2016 it became axiomatic that the Trump voter, or the Leave voter, was – without exception now – a crazed, racist monster. As detailed here multiple times, ruminations on Republican voter behaviors became not merely uninteresting to pundits after November 2016, but actively taboo. By 2020, the official answer to What’s the Matter with Kansas? was Kansas is a White Supremacist Project and Can Go Fuck Itself. -Matt Taibbi