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Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? Hardcover – March 15, 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Thoroughly entertaining . . . Frank delights in skewering the sacred cows of coastal liberalism . . . he argues that the Democratic party―once “the Party of the People”―now caters to the interests of a “professional managerial class” consisting of lawyers, doctors, professors, scientists, programmers, even investment bankers . . . A serious political critique.”
New York Times Book Review (front page)

“What makes Frank’s book new, different and important is its offer of a compelling theory as to how and why the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Roosevelt is now so unlikely to champion the economic needs of everyday people. . . . In such a looking-glass world, Listen, Liberal is a desperately needed corrective.”
History News Network

“In his new book, progressive commentator Thomas Frank says Democrats need to take a good long look in the mirror if they want answers to why blue-collar workers are feeling abandoned and even infuriated by what used to be their party.”
New York Post

“Over the past four decades, Frank argues, the Democrats have embraced a new favorite constituency: the professional class―the doctors, lawyers, engineers, programmers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, financiers and other so-called creatives whose fetish for academic credentials and technological innovation has infected the party of the working class. . . . For that class, Frank argues, income and wealth inequality is not a problem but an inevitable condition.”
Washington Post

“An astute dissection of contemporary Democratic politics that demonstrates, cogently and at times acidly, how the party lost the allegiance of blue-collar Americans.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“A tough and thought-provoking look at what’s wrong with America . . . Frank puts forth an impressive catalog of Democratic disappointments, more than enough to make liberals uncomfortable.”
Booklist

“Important . . . engaging . . . An edgy―even disturbing―analysis of the Democratic Party’s jilting of its traditional base.”
The National Book Review

“Thomas Frank’s new book Listen, Liberal documents a half-century of work by the Democratic elite to belittle working people and exile their concerns to the fringes of the party’s platform. If the prevailing ideology of the Republican establishment is that of a sneering aristocracy, Democratic elites are all too often the purveyors of a smirking meritocracy that offers working people very little.”
Huffington Post

“Democrats often use the fact that Republicans have gone off the deep end to ignore their left flank, on the grounds that those liberals have nowhere else to go politically. Listen, Liberal contributes to the literature that expresses deep frustration with that decision, the fuel for a revolt.”
The Fiscal Times

“As with Frank’s other books, Listen, Liberal is a piece of contemporary history that tells us not only what the powerful are up to, but how the trick is being pulled, with an admirable deployment of irony. . . . While his previous books are essentially about devils being devils, this one shows how the angels have fallen further than they realize.”
Prospect (UK)

About the Author

Thomas Frank is the author of Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, and What's the Matter with Kansas? A former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper's, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler. He lives outside Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books (March 15, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1627795391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1627795395
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Wineberg TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 15, 2016
Format: Hardcover
There is one (horrifying) theme in Listen Liberal. It is that the Democratic Party has betrayed its natural constituency of labor, and is constantly trying (and succeeding) to outrun Republicans by doing more damage to the social structure than Republicans profess, thus stealing their thunder. “It has become Democratic thinking that the common people are at last being treated as they deserve to be.” They do it with “professionals”. Frank has filled this entire book with evidence of this one point.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats ain’t what it used to be, according to Frank. The Democrats have decided to put all their eggs in one basket: professionals. They staff their offices with them, just like the Republicans use only lawyers from the Federalist Society. Their backers are Wall Streeters, because the Democrats are at least as generous to Wall Street as the Republicans when in power. For the wealthy, it’s a win-win. Doesn’t matter who gets in. So while Republicans consider their base the uneducated, bootstrap entrepreneurs who create jobs, the Democrats consider their base the highly educated, networked professionals who create jobs. Two sides of the same coin. And neither one can be bothered with the rest of the population except when vote-gathering. Then, for a brief period, it’s all about inequality and jobs.

Frank focuses on the last two Democratic presidents, Clinton and Obama, and the upcoming contender – Hillary Clinton. He autopsies their administrations (and Hillary’s part in them) and finds them all the same – mouthing platitudes to gain votes from the electorate, then reverting to type and removing any and all support for them so they can to deliver on promises made to the rich.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book in one sitting late last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. There's lots of criticism of Bill and Hillary that might cause those "feeling the Bern" to spontaneously combust. For me the most interesting topic was how the Democrats have so thoroughly absolved themselves of any responsibility to the working class by convincing themselves that "Innovation" (e.g. Uber, micro loans, AirBnb, "sharing" economy) is some sort of law of the Thomas Friedman Flat World we apparently now live in that destines those unable to code up an App or get a patent to a life of poverty.

One of my favorite quotes was:

“Economies aren’t ecosystems. They aren’t naturally occurring phenomena to which we must learn to acclimate. Their rules are made by humans. They are, in a word, political. In a democracy we can set the economic table however we choose.”

Let's start choosing how the table gets set!
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Format: Hardcover
Thomas Frank stirs up my aggravation with our political system as no other person can. He excoriates the Democratic Party for selling out the American People (those not part of the Top Ten Percent). I read many passages of this book aloud to my wife, and both of us were like, "Damn, Thomas Frank! Tell it."

I don't mean to get all political on Amazon, but Frank does a brilliant job breaking down the empty promises of Democrats during election season since the Clinton era and the things they actually accomplished for working class people which is very little to nothing. Frank's dissection of the way in which meritocracy and the rise of the professional class has allowed the Democrats to turn their backs on serious issues of inequality is compelling--and scary. It's pretty damning evidence I have to admit that this book helped me challenge my own perspective on my so-called liberalism. So glad Thomas Frank has stepped into the ring this election season.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I once heard Bruce Springsteen say that, as a young person, he had asked his mother why their family were Democrats. His mother replied, "because Democrats are for the working people." I have been voting since 1984 and I have to look back over these thirty-odd years and admit to myself that Mrs. Springsteen's assessment hasn't been true in all that time. Of course, the Republicans certainly haven't been for the working people either. Oh, both parties give plenty of lip service to what they believe the working people want to hear. The Democrats play "identity politics" and the Republicans counter with "culture wars." And this has worked to a certain extent for both parties, particularly in presidential elections for the Democrats and in mid-term elections for the Republicans. But, in fact, neither party cares to address the lingering and worsening problems of the people who make up the majority of the economy and the country. The Republicans offer "trickle down" economics and the Democrats counter with "trickle-down-with-patches." Oh well, at least the Democrats have cared enough to hand out those band aids, but after a while, and especially after the financial and economic catastrophe of 2008, it's time to admit that not one more patch is going to fix this game. The game is a lemon, it doesn't work!
In order to regain true health, our economy needs a new approach, one that gives great consideration to the needs of working people. And to get that it will need a political party that actually represents this majority of the electorate.
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