Friday, February 25, 2005

Points to Ponder

"The Kansas conservatives like to refer to moderate Republicans as 'liberals,' and in their struggle with the Mods for control of the Republican Party the Cons imagine that they are confronting a local arm of the fabled 'establishment.' For them the war is a set piece right out of the works of Ann Coulter or the monologues of Rush Limbaugh: the common people versus a haughty, know-it-all liberal power structure.
"The Mods are plenty conservative in their economic views...But they also fulfill the liberal-elite stereotype, if all you consider are the cultural attributes of liberaldom made famous by the good-natured loathing of commentators like David Brooks. There are moderate Kansas Republicans who drink chardonnay and who put Martha's Vineyard stickers on their Saabs. There are Mods who insist on European-style coffee and whole-grain breads and high-end chocolates. There are Mods who shop at Restoration Hardware and Whole Foods and who look down on those who shop at Wal-Mart. There are Mods who listen to NPR and who insist on speaking French to the waitress when at a French restaurant. There are Mods who go to gay-friendly, super-Waspy Episcopal churches and who disapprove of the Patriot Act and who rally in support of immigrant rights. And there are Mods who assume that all working-class whites are racist.
"But such people aren't liberal. What they are is corporate. Their habits and opinions owe far more to the standards of courtesy and taste that prevail within the white-collar world than they do to Franklin Roosevelt and the United Mine Workers...
"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 may hurt the Mods' feelings to overhear their secretaries referring to them as RINOs, 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.'"

-- Thomas Frank, from What's the Matter with Kansas? - How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Metropolitan Books, 2004


At 3:25 AM, Blogger cvc said...

This is an interesting excerpt...I've seen this book, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Is it recommended??

By the way, it's great to see you're blogging again! I'm looking forward to keeping up with your posts!!

At 10:34 AM, Blogger fdtate said...

I highly recommend it. Franks gets bogged down a little on specifics (skimming is crucial in some parts), but he does a good job of showing how the Repubs. use the cultural agenda to get people to vote against their own economic self-interest. Very interesting reading.
And thank you, it's good to be back! Hope you'll stop by often.


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