Vote Wall Street Republicans or Democrats
The bestselling author Thomas Frank, 51, worked on conservative America for a long time. In "What's the matter with Kansas" he investigated why the white underclass elects the Republicans even though they are reducing the state. "Poor Billionaires" described how the Conservatives reinterpreted the financial crisis to their advantage. In "Listen, Liberal" (Metropolitan Books), he now tackles the Democrats and criticizes their obsession with education. This polemic is not without irony: The interview with the PhD historian takes place in his house in Bethesda - every ninth resident of this Washington suburb has a doctorate.
SZ: In "Listen, Liberal" you sharply criticize the Democrats: The Obama and Clintons' parties have betrayed America's workers.
Thomas Frank: After the Vietnam War, the Democrats reformed, union officials lost their seats in the leadership and with them the chance to voice their concerns. Nevertheless, in 1992 they did everything they could to bring a Democrat back to the White House after twelve years. As a thank you, Bill Clinton stabbed them in the back with the knife and pushed through the Nafta free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. The MPs and officials knew that the unions would remain loyal to them. . .
They are even less heard by the Republicans.
Yes, the Conservatives would like to get rid of unions. They were crucial to Obama's re-election, but he didn't help them afterwards. The party now identifies with other groups, woos the creative industries and IT experts. In short: the rich people with university degrees. Education is elevated to a fetish.
You refer to this obsession as ideology in your book.
For the Democrats, education is the solution to all problems. Redistribution is unnecessary because theoretically anyone can study. The ideology is so wonderful because it explains everything to these elites: They are so wealthy because they have attended the best universities. America's Conservatives define themselves by their bank balance, the Liberals calculate the value of their fellow men according to the university they attended. If the workers want some of the wealth, they say: You would have gone to college. If they did that, it would say: you studied the wrong subject. In a pinch, the university wasn't good enough; not everyone can go to Harvard.
Another word that Democrats are obsessed with is innovation.
I like to call them "Inno-crats". Obama constantly speaks in the same breath of innovation and the future: This is the only way to secure America's prosperity. The connections to Google are unmistakable: its boss Eric Schmidt has been advising Obama since 2008, and he has helped him use big data for his re-election. Google employees also formed the third largest group of donors for Obama in 2012.
At the SXSW Tech Festival in Austin, Obama last called on the nerds to help the government make the state more efficient.
That's typical of him. His trust in industry professionals and graduates from elite universities is unbroken. When it came to dealing with the financial crisis, he brought people from Wall Street. Everyone would say: They caused the problem, someone else should clean up here. It used to be ridiculed that Goldman Sachs should be called "Government Sachs" because so many employees move back and forth between bank and government. At the end of Obama's term of office one should speak of the "United States of Google". Incidentally, Schmidt is currently helping Hillary Clinton identify potential voters - as Secretary of State she has always advocated the "fundamental right to Internet access". Eric Schmidt is now the favorite billionaire of the liberal elite and proof that Silicon Valley has significantly more influence than Wall Street.
Silicon Valley actually has a reputation for being libertarian: the government should interfere as little as possible.
No, the groups get along great today. The top advisors to the president used to silver their good contacts on Wall Street. Now David Plouffe, the brain behind Obama's election victories, works for Uber. And Jay Carney, the ex-White House spokesman, hired Amazon. They too are constantly promoting more innovation - that is a hollow word that nobody can say anything against. Do you know what Schmidt cites as an example during his appearances?
Possibly the driverless car?
Right, Google's favorite project. The fact that after its introduction millions of Americans who drive taxis, trucks or buses today would become unemployed - that doesn't seem to bother Eric Schmidt or the Democrats, who used to worry about ordinary people.
Social inequality is unlikely to decrease like this.
The growing gap between rich and poor is America's biggest problem, and it's made worse by modern technology. In Silicon Valley, people pretend that technology can reduce poverty. There one thinks just like the "Inno" -crats: The USA should be a meritocracy, according to which the most competent people hold the most important offices. Of course, both groups have no problem with the US upper class earning so extremely well - after all, they both belong to the elite. It's like free trade: IT experts have just as little worry about it as lawyers, bankers or lobbyists. It's not their jobs that are being relocated to Mexico or China.
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