Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Thomas Frank: Why are Conservatives so Pissed Off?

Today I caught the tail end of "Making Contact", a radio program by the National Radio Project, which had an interesting talk by Thomas Frank (author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?") where he described the perpetually pissed-off modern conservative coalition. Click permalink for the rest... I recently started listening to a new (to me) public radio station, WEOS out of Geneva, NY, and I'm loving it. For one thing, it seems to have slightly more edgy political programs than the regular NPR stuff. For another thing, I've never been so crazy about classical music, which is the bulk of what you get on most public radio stations. The music on WEOS is much more eclectic; their "World Cafe" program plays a great mix:
David Dye plays quality music. Rock 'n' roll, R&B, folk, reggae, world, a little jazz now and then. He plays Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt, Sting, Damien Rice, Richard Thompson, kd lang, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Dave Matthews, and others.

and my favorite teenage leftwing musical prodigy, Nelly McKay.

But actually what I'm writing about is "Making Contact" a program created by the National Radio Project. Thomas Frank is the author of the book "What's the Matter with Kansas?", which I haven't read, but I understand to be an analysis of how liberals and the Democrats lost the support of rural states such as Kansas, which used to be hotbeds of populist politics.

Today I caught the tail end of a talk by Thomas Frank where he basically described what's going on with the modern conservative coalition that has pretty much taken over all levels of government in the US. I can't find a transcript, but from memory, here are some of his main points:

  • The conservative movement today is an alliance between big business conservatives and cultural values conservatives.

  • Big business conservatives vote their interests, but cultural values conservatives routinely vote against theirs.

  • A pillar of modern conservatism is the belief that things are screwed up by the "liberal elite" who rule government, Hollywood, our schools, etc.

  • Conservative victimhood. Modern conservatives spend most of their time being pissed off. In spite of controlling both houses of Congress, the Presidency, most governorships, the judiciary and a sizeable hunk of the media, conservatives still view themselves as poor, pitiful victims of the liberal elite.


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