Nicola's Reviews > What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America

What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Hear... by Thomas Frank
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May 14, 2012

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bookshelves: politics, non-fiction, gift

I thought this book might be a bit of a gimme for a Daily Show liberal such as myself. Blah blah blah blue-collar folks who vote Republican because they think they’ll win the lottery soon blah blah. In fact, I found it much more revelatory. It really does a fantastic job of unpicking the central question: why does middle America vote against its own economic interests?

The answer is multi-layered, but basically the answer is that the Republicans have succeeded in separating economics from class. So it’s now possible to be a Ivy League grad from a family of billionaires and still be ‘working-class’ – thus appealing to blue-collar voters on their level.

Thomas Frank’s adjacent comments on how what we think of as left-of-centre political correctness actually pays a debt to bland corporate nicety particularly succeeded in hitting me between the eyes. And I actually understand why people (people who aren’t mentally ill) read Ann Coulter now!

My only criticism of the book (and the reason I’ve docked it a star) is that, though well-written, its structure is a bit waffle-y. I suspect Frank did a Frankenstein job in places and sewed together bits and pieces of articles he’d written previously. A shame, but not something that should put you off reading this book.
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