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President Barack Obama talks with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter prior to the Let Freedom Ring ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Interchange – It Takes a Democrat: Selling out Solidarity

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Historian and bestselling author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank, came to Bloomington on March 24th promoting his latest attempt at diagnosing our decades-long liberal malaise and ineptitude in the Democratic Party.

While he was here he stopped in to chat with Interchange Assistant Producer Rob Schoon about his new book: Listen, Liberal — which asks the question, “Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?”

With a focus on the metamorphosis of the Democratic Party from New Deal to New Democrats, Frank makes plain what once was a party dedicated to the working class and the commonwealth, is now a political operation dedicated to professional class interests and obsessed with Ivy League expertise.

We begin with the still-astonishing fact of who won the presidency last November. And in turn, who lost. And how ‘the party of the people’ found themselves outflanked by right-wing populist rhetoric on issues that the democratic leadership had quietly abandoned for decades.

Frank outlines the democratic party’s shift — starting in 1968 — away from labor and towards the interests of one predominant group: the emerging professional class of the college-educated expert.

And how that decades-long shift in the left — the product of “reforms” and movements under various names like neoliberalism, the new democrats, and Atari liberals — contributed to the historic levels of inequality we see today.

GUEST
Thomas Frank is the author of Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, and What’s the Matter with Kansas? Thomas is also a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Harper’s Magazine, the founding editor for The Baffler, and 2005 winner of the Eugene V. Debs award.

RELATED
Nor a Lender Be: Hillary Clinton, liberal virtue, and the cult of the microloan by Thomas Frank
What’s the Matter with Liberals by Thomas Frank (2005)
The cult of the expert – and how it collapsed by Sebastian Mallaby
Pistols for Two: Jay Rosen vs Thomas Frank (The Baffler, 1999)

MUSIC
“Endless Sea” Iggy Pop
“Working Class Hero” John Lennon
“Aquarius” The Fifth Dimension
“You Think You’re So Smart” Aaron Neville
“Eminence Front” The Who

NEXT UP: Reinventing Radicalism
What happened to the American left after the Sixties? This the question LA Kauffman seeks to answer in her book, Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. The book examines how movements from ACT UP to Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter have used disruptive tactics to catalyze change against long odds, creating a new kind of decentralized and multi-vocal radical politics in the process. But to what effect? When has direct action made an enormous, undeniable difference? And what subtle, but positive changes have been brought about, at least in part, by non-violent direct action?

CREDITS
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Board Engineer: Jennifer Brooks
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford

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