What's The Matter With Kansas: how conservatives won the heart of America

| On
Monday, May 09, 2005
by Thomas Frank (#12)
I had to check this book out three times to get through it. I don't know if that says more about my attention span, or the density of the prose. It is a LOT of information to take in. This book deals with a subject that has long confused me - when did the conservative right become the voice of the common person? How did this happen? He describes the shift away from economic populism toward this cultural backlash. How populism is being driven by this cultural commodity of so-called "authenticity," which has little to nothing to do with actual authenticity, but more the claiming of being "just a regular guy." I heard more than one people use as a reason to support GWB. Bleh. He also brings up something that I don't think enough people are talking about - what the hell is happening to the Democratic party? It has left all of its power to the people positions and now is very pro-business in a sad attempt to win. It's not working. Do they learn nothing from sit-coms? The girl who changes to be more what she thinks her boyfriend wants will not be happy. Just be your messy old self, DNC. By all means get your shit together, but don't try to make yourself over into a half-assed imitation of the republican party. But, I digress.
Frank covers this ground using his home state of Kansas as the example. Kansas has been at the forefront of political/social trends for over a century. It surprised me, too. He differentiates between the two seemingly warring factions of the Kansas Republican Party - the Mods (basic fiscal conservatives who are relatively liberal on social issues); and the Cons (culture warriors who are pro-business, and radically culturally conservative). Honestly, I think I should probably read it again.
But here are a couple of great little paragraphs to give you a taste of his style and subject matter: (From the chapter titled Con Men and Mod Squad, pp109)
And as corporate types, these Mods are the primary beneficiaries of the class war that rages against them. Although the Cons vituperate against the high and mighty, the policies they help enact -- deregulating, privatizing -- only serve to make the Mods higher and mightier still. And while it amy hurt the Mods' feelings to overhear their secretaries referring to them as RINOs (republicans in name only), the many rounds of tax cuts the Cons have accomplished have surely made the sting subside. The Mods win even when they lose.
This situation may be paradoxical, but it is also universal. For decades Americans have experienced a populist uprising that only benefits the people it is supposed to be targeting. In Kansas we merely see an extreme version of this mysterious situation. The angry workers, mighty in their numbers, are marching irresistibly against the arrogant. They are shaking their fists at the sons of privilege. They are laughing at the dainty affectations of the Leawood toffs. They are massing at the gates of Mission HIlls, hoisting the black flag, and while the millionaires tremble in their mansions, they are bellowing out their terrifying demands. "We are here," they scream, "to cut your taxes."
Be First to Post Comment !
Post a Comment

Klik the button below to show emoticons and the its code
Hide Emoticon
Show Emoticon