Why the Left Left Kansas
Re “How the Left Lost Its Heart,” Opinion, July 18: “The old class-based language of the left quickly disappeared from the universe of the respectable,” as Thomas Frank mourns, precisely because it does not belong there.
Voters have recognized a fact that Frank is apparently oblivious to: Class warfare is irrelevant to American politics because many people (myself included) feel that hard work and creativity, rather than accidents of birth, are the drivers of success.
They also recognize that class-based “protectionist” policies protect only those who fail to adapt to a changing world, at the expense of the vast majority who apply themselves.
Frank would probably ascribe this view to a delusion that I can “understand my situation in the great sweep of things.”
Apparently he feels that although I am not intelligent enough to do so, he is. That doesn’t sound liberal. It just sounds arrogant.
Frank states clearly that neither major political party represents the economic concerns of the majority of the electorate.
There is now no choice in our current electoral system on economic issues. We now mimic the old electoral systems of the former Soviet Union and Mexico, except we add a second line to the ballot to give the people the illusion of choice.
Our voting system is essentially like that of old Soviet communism, plus one.
Ralph Nader and Ross Perot repeatedly point this out, yet the House of Representatives has a 96% incumbency rate. People have to start voting for third parties, period. Many third parties have economic platforms geared toward America’s vast majority, the middle and lower classes. We must examine and vote for them, because currently, if you aren’t wealthy, the two parties couldn’t care less about you.
Frank bemoans the fact that Democrats have become a party of the “rich and self-righteous.” After all, a political party that selects a French-speaking billionaire and a silky-tongued ambulance-chasing lawyer as its presidential ticket has strayed a million miles from its former working-class base.
The “Sunshine Boys” may be darlings of the liberal elite but they surely don’t play well in Kansas.
When Sen. John Kerry tries to appeal to the working class by speaking at the NAACP convention, he is joining hands with the Julian Bond types who spew hatred on the president and blame on America. Class warfare no longer works in America since the working people have regained their pride and optimism. They thank the conservatives and Republicans for that.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Frank laments the fact that working-class voters’ “lives have been materially worsened by the conservative policies they have supported.”
Yet, according to a chart in your July 9 article, “At Low End of Home Market, High Hurdles,” the percentage of households, nationally, that could afford to purchase a median-priced home rose by nearly 50% from 1984 to 1993, then decreased until 2000, when it started to rise again.
Perhaps working-class people have more wisdom than Frank gives them credit for.
Frank blames the Democratic Party for abandoning the working class, but thinks Kansas voters are self-destructive economically by voting Republican. His attempt to make this a left-right issue is confused.
Truth of the matter is that Kansas voters were never true Democrats.
The confusion arises from the misconception that there are two political movements in this country, Democrat and Republican. But there are actually four.
The four are easy to see by considering two independent positions: (1) Do you believe government should enforce so-called family values (antiabortion, anti-gay marriage)? (2) Do you believe government should be laissez faire to business (antiregulation, pro-business)?
If you answered no to both, then you are a Democrat. If you answered yes to both, then you are a Republican. But what if you split your answers? Libertarians choose “no, yes,” while Populists choose “yes, no.”
Kansas voters are Populists. They aligned with traditional Democrats economically but with Republicans socially. Like most conflicted voters, they chose based on economics, hence their traditional Democratic support.
Once the Democrats abandoned them economically, they switched because at least Republicans aligned with them on social issues. They are not self-destructive. They just have no choice, just as Ralph Nader says.