Monday, June 20, 2016


"New book, ‘Listen Liberal,’ looks at Democratic party schism" PBS NewsHour 6/15/2016


SUMMARY:  The raucous primary season brought simmering tensions and disaffection within the GOP to a boiling point.  But equally severe divisions also surfaced in the Democratic party, centered around Sen. Bernie Sanders’ upstart populist campaign.  Historian Thomas Frank explores the causes and consequences of this schism in his new book “Listen, Liberal,” and joins Judy Woodruff to share what he’s learned.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Tonight, a look at some of the backstory to this year’s raucous political season.

Just as it brought to the surface tensions and disaffection within the Republican Party, so too have divisions in the Democratic Party revealed themselves.

Author and historian Thomas Frank explores all this in his latest book, “Listen, Liberal.”

I sat down with Frank recently in our studio.

Thomas Frank, welcome to the program.

THOMAS FRANK, Author, “Listen, Liberal”:  Good to be here, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And we should say the subtitle is “What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

You were talking about the Democrats, but just before we talk about what you think is wrong with the Democratic Party now, when was the last time you thought the Democratic Party was doing what it was supposed to do?

THOMAS FRANK:  Well, there’s a — look, there’s still a lot of good Democrats out there, the Democrats that get the — like, the seal of approval from me, you know, that get five stars.  There’s plenty of Democrats that I approve of.

And I will say that I enthusiastically voted for President Obama back in 2008.  So — but, on the other hand, I think that the party has really abandoned its dedication to working-class Americans, beginning in the 1970s, and has progressively abandoned it more and more and more, that sort of traditional Democratic mission.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  I mean, you’re hard.  In your book, you’re pretty hard on President Obama in not fulfilling what you argue was the promise of his presidency.  You’re hard on both of the Clintons, both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

But you also make the striking point that the inequality that we have in this country is something that they think is a good thing?

THOMAS FRANK:  Well, it’s something that — I wouldn’t say that.  Barack Obama called it the — what did he call it?  The great — the overriding challenge of our time.

But, yes, he has a way of putting it, and when he speaks about it in this very eloquent manner, he makes it clear that this is something he deplores, something that, you know, he finds shocking.

However, the Democratic Party, the sort of leadership faction of the Democratic Party, isn’t really at their core bothered by inequality.  They think that, to a certain degree, it reflects the way things ought to be.  This is because the Democratic Party isn’t — the leadership of the Democratic Party is not who we think they are.

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