What’s the Matter with Kansas

Out of boredom, I have been reading Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas, a political tract I picked up in a dollar store a few days ago. The author is perplexed by the behavior of working class whites in Kansas who vote against their own economic self-interest in supporting Republicans. These conservative leaders never deliver on their culture war promises (ending abortion, affirmative action, illegal immigration, etc.), but instead use their time in office to advance their destructive economic agenda. As a result, Kansas is suffering from depopulation and the collapse of its small towns.

Towards the end of the book Frank finally admits that voting for Democrats who support huge bailouts for multinational corporations, deregulation, and free trade accomplishes nothing. When economic issues are taken off the table, the two parties joust each election cycle over personality contests and rehearse culture war rhetoric. After all his grandstanding last summer over the terrible economy, Obama picked up where Bush left off: throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at Wall Street, warning against “protectionism,” flying overseas to push the globalization agenda, pushing amnesty for illegal aliens, and so on.

“Change We Can Believe In.” Yeah right.


  1. What’s the matter with Kansas? Not enough Kansans agree with Thomas Frank’s political views. There, I just saved myself 336 pages of boredom.

  2. People have been saying it for decades: Democrat and Republican are best understood to be *two wings of the same ruling party*. There is no serious, real opposition; any more than there was in the USSR.

  3. I skimmed parts of that book and wondered when Frank would get around to noticing that the Democrats don’t actually support policies that help working class white people anymore than the Republicans do.

  4. What’s the point of Frank’s book, then? He spends hundreds of pages attacking the Republican Party’s appalling policies for the white working class, then at the end he realises, Oops!, the Democrats support the exact same policies. He could have added that Affirmative Action and illegal immigration, despite being nominally “culture war” issues, are in fact at their very heart economic issues, and both are completely detrimental to the white working class. And the Democrats are the primary supporters of these policies (not that the Republicans actually want to repeal them).

    So what’s up with Thomas Frank? Does he want to stop immigration and AA? Does he care about the white working class or not?

  5. Frank dismisses AA and immigration as unimportant issues. He lumps them in with stuff like prayer in schools.

  6. Frank dismisses AA and immigration as unimportant issues. He lumps them in with stuff like prayer in schools.

    Most of the people just don’t consider the implications or consequences of demographic shifts. They simply don’t comprehend the magnitude of it. Very few non-racialists seem to have any concern whatsoever vis-a-vis borders, immigration, AA or any other important issue for that matter. The people just couldn’t care less.

    Obama picked up where Bush left off: throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at Wall Street, warning against “protectionism,” flying overseas to push the globalization agenda, pushing amnesty for illegal aliens, and so on.

    There is no significant difference between Bush-era neoconservatism and modern liberalism. There may be at the grassroots level, but at the top they’re all the same: Colluding with one another to the detriment of the public.

  7. How are blue-collar workers supposed to defend their living standards if they can be instantly replaced by one of 20 million illegal immigrants already in the United States?

    But for Frank, that’s just another “distraction” thrown up by the “rich”. No, the “real way” to defend wages is to “give everyone a pay rise” by granting amnesty to 20 million illegal immigrants, while tripling legal immigration. Yep. That’ll do it.

    That’s the problem with liberalism – left-liberals pretend that there is no relationship between labour supply, wage compensation, and employment; right-liberals pretend that there is no relationship between illegal immigration and the erosion of property rights.

  8. Of course, the other question that Frank could have asked if he were genuinely curious is this: if economic issues are meant to be paramount (and I agree that they are) then why does the liberal elite, which is supposed to share the bread and butter concerns of the blue collar workers at least in theory, insist on going out of their way to alienate their “natural allies” in the working class?

    It’s strange, isn’t it – here are millions of small town Americans who are opposed to free market fundamentalism. You are an elite liberal, allegedly opposed to free market fundamentalism. It’s a match made in heaven! So what price do you impose on your natural allies as the precondition for joining an electoral coalition? They must support their own cultural destruction by embracing abortion, illegal immigration, affirmative action, Hollywood hedonism, etc. So in other words, we say “fuck you and everything you stand for” just because we can, and in return you might get another 50c an hour. And if you don’t like it, you can pound sand and/or vote Republican!

    That’s a very weird attitude to take if economic issues are supposed to be much more important than these so-called “diversionary cultural issues” that “aren’t even worth the bother”. If they really aren’t worth a tinker’s cuss, then presumably the liberal elite would have NOTHING to lose (and in fact millions of votes to gain) by simply dropping them. Why doesn’t Mr Frank write a book about THAT? But of course, this line of query is cutting things much too close for the likes of Thomas Frank. Because he would have to go into a whole lot of issues that actually question the very foundations of liberalism, both left and right.

  9. So to put it another way – how come the elite liberals are willing to piss millions of votes up against the wall, on a bunch of issues that are, according to Frank, “side matters”? Sounds pretty wasteful to me.

  10. Re Michael, you’re absolutely right. These kinds of books are so boring. Everyone who is allowed to be a public commentator like this is either genuinely clueless or pretends to be. (One can notice the latter in the person of Pat Buchanan, still on TV almost daily. I saw him on TV a few weeks ago hoping loudly that “Obama succeeds”.) No one can stand up and declare that they want the capitalist-liberal-democracy system (of which Obama is the logical next step) to fail and be replaced by another Weltanschauung. Or, rather, no one can do so AND be published and appear on TV regularly.

    The real issue of our time of course has nothing to do with the fake issues paraded around by “both” parties. Centuries forth, the 1918-2150(?) era will be remembered for the slow decline of the European people(s) across the world, perhaps leading to their eventual near-extinction, to the level of the southern-African Hottentots or North-American Indians. A great loss for humanity (global IQ is expected to decline to 85 by 2100; it was around 95 in 1950); it remains to be seen whether the quite-smart but uncreative Oriental peoples are capable of picking up the baton and keeping up the pace, in the absence of Europeans to guide the way.

  11. The Kansas state government has a bad revenue shortfall this fiscal year, they’re having pretty bad economic problems there for a nearly all-White state…it’s because they’ve driven so many of its productive citizens off the land (that abandoned land is then taken over by corporate megafarms) and herded them in to suburbs and cities (or even quasi-forced them out of the state altogether) where they then became wards of the federal government, pawns of other megacorps, and/or virtual slaves of Jewish swindlers and merchants.

    Read Lytle’s essay “The Small Farm Secures the State” in http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0813919959

  12. China-men are not creative enough to keep things going and in fact one already suspects part of the current economic crisis is that there just aren’t enough Whites around to keep things going and many who could be contributing aren’t because of policies like Affirmative Action or just overall discouragement from the general anti-White atmosphere circa 2009. Also there is alot of Corruption (looking at sub-prime loans to unqualified Coloreds) that probably would never have happened if the country was 90% White like it was until quite recently!!!!

    The USA has a horrible economic model in 2009 that may implode like the Soviet Unions started to in 1985…

    The whole thing with Kansas is just a smoke screen. Ds or Rs aren’t very different and when it comes to picking between this Pepsi/ Coke differrence the only sane thing to do is NOT take the Pepsi Challenge and just wait for the system to collapse and then re-build.

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