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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, humerous, analytical. What more do you want?, 2 Oct 2004
This review is from: What's the Matter with America?: The Resistable Rise of the American Right (Paperback)
To a British observer, the pyschology of American voters can seem at times, baffling. In the impoverished areas of the UK the dominant parties have always been, and continue to be with a few minor exceptions the parties of the left, with the Labour Party by far the most dominant of these. However, the situation accross the Atlantic could not be further removed from this British scenario, with Thomas Frank explaining how in poor rural areas accross the heartland millions of Americans are rejecting the ideas of the left, and siding with that bastion of right wing power, the Republican party.
Frank explains how, in affect the Democrats rejection of the language of class and equality during the 90's post Reaganomics period allowed the GOP a niche in which to exploit all kinds of cultural wedge issues, from guns to aborton, the natural instincts of the Kansas poplace Frank uses as an example throughout the book ran counter to that of the coastal/liberal Democratic establishment.
Frank gives a variety of examples of real Kansas 'blue collar Republicans' at the sharp end of the pay scale, who talk not about the harsh brand of conservative economics that have, ironically, undercut the traditional business of old, but instead rail against the 'liberal media', and other such leftist bogeymen. Unlike many authors such as Molly Ivins, Thomas Frank resists the urge to fill his book with too many real-life examples, which aides the flow of the book and allows him, a native Kansan, proper room to analyise the sizemic shifts have occured in his home state that so favour the GOP.
Frank is also refreshingly non-partisan in his analysis, although he makes no secret of the fact he is a Democrat, this does not lead him into making any party politcal broadcast for the Dems, (thank God), and is duly critical of their faliure to see the wood for the tree's in so much of America's poor rural heartland, that should, by economic logic, be their territory. Neither does he resort to excessive Michael Moore style assults on his opponents, strictly analysing how the right-wing backlash works so effectively and its main tools of propaganda, rather than making a forcible leftist economic argument. This book is a rarity in its clarity of purpose, its tight, sustained analysis, and the genuinely relevent and thoughtful points it promotes, regardless of your personal politcal pursuasion. If ever there was a book highly relevent and crucial to any understanding of the soap-opera that is this years race for the Presidency, this is it.
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