Monday, January 24, 2005

I was initially just going to skim What's the Matter With Kansas? by Thomas Frank, but his easy, conversational writing style drew me in and I found myself racing through the whole thing. I knew most of his basic arguments about the whole "Red State / Blue State" supposed cultural divide from reading sites which have embraced his work, like Daily Kos, and from seeing him on The Daily Show, but it was interesting to read the history of politics in Kansas and how he translated that to the US as a whole. Most of the book simply lays out the question of why it is that people are voting Republican despite their own best economic interests and doesn't really get to the answer until the end. Basically he says that having the Democrats and Republicans move so close to each other on economic issues simply removed them from the table, allowing people to disregard them as a basis for deciding which candidate to vote for. He shows how conservative Christians jumped into this gap, firing up their base and controlling the debate on abortion and gay rights. And of course the moderate Republicans who are in office don't seem to mind all that much because they get their tax cuts and the New Deal gets rolled back piece by piece, all for toeing the party line. They get richer, their constituency gets poorer, and it seems we all lose. Lovely.

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