What's the Matter with Kansas?
How Conservatives Won the Heart of America
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One of "our most insightful social observers"* cracks the great political mystery of our time: how conservatism, once a marker of class privilege, became the creed of millions of ordinary Americans
With his acclaimed wit and acuity, Thomas Frank turns his eye on what he calls the "thirty-year backlash"--the populist revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment. The high point of that backlash is the Republican Party's success in building the most unnatural of alliances: between blue-collar Midwesterners and Wall Street business interests, workers and bosses, populists and right-wingers.
In asking "what 's the matter with Kansas?"--how a place famous for its radicalism became one of the most conservative states in the union--Frank, a native Kansan and onetime Republican, seeks to answer some broader American riddles: Why do so many of us vote against our economic interests? Where's the outrage at corporate manipulators? And whatever happened to middle-American progressivism? The questions are urgent as well as provocative. Frank answers them by examining pop conservatism--the bestsellers, the radio talk shows, the vicious political combat--and showing how our long culture wars have left us with an electorate far more concerned with their leaders' "values" and down-home qualities than with their stands on hard questions of policy.
A brilliant analysis--and funny to boot--What's the Matter with Kansas? presents a critical assessment of who we are, while telling a remarkable story of how a group of frat boys, lawyers, and CEOs came to convince a nation that they spoke on behalf of the People.
*Los Angeles Times