What’s the Matter With America?

July 19th, 2018

Frankweb.jpgBack in 2004, a full fourteen years ago, Thomas Frank published a book entitled What’s The Matter with Kansas? In it, he looked at how a segment of the population was consistently voting against their own economic self interests. He argued that so called “culture war” issues, played to emotions that overrode economic concerns.

Twelve years later that trend reached its apogee with the election of Donald Trump. Therefore it’s important to remember that Trump didn’t create the economic, class and cultural divisions in America, he merely exploited them.

Those trends, fed by changes in the nature of work, technology, communication, and global economics have resulted in a society that is, in many ways, not recognizable from the America of yore.  Given that, it's important to remember that the American people played a role in creating this environment, do they now have the power to fix it? Can they put Humpty Dumpty back together again?

Thomas Frank, like the Simon and Garfunkel song, has spent a long time, looking for America to try and find the answer to this question. He reports it in his new book Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society.

My conversation with Thomas Frank: