Author Thomas Frank in his new book, Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People, posits that wealth equality worsened during the Obama administration because the so-called party of the working class has been co-opted by a “professional class” of hyper-educated elite.
He argues – very convincingly in my opinion – that America is now governed by two political parties, neither of which represents the interests of average workers. This, he says, is why Americans are flocking to outsider Presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Franks says the Republican Party represents the rich while the Democratic Party represents a hyper-educated professional elite, many of whom hail from exclusive Ivy League universities. The class includes a broad swath of professionals, from lawyers and doctors to economists and Internet entrepreneurs.
The Democratic professional class is liberal on cultural issues, writes Frank, but NOT when it comes to worker rights.
He cites President Bill Clinton’s strong support for NAFTA, which served the interests of professionals at the expense of average workers. He said NAFTA further dis-empowered workers, already reeling from anti-union policies, because it gave companies incentive to pick up stakes and move.
Frank criticizes Obama for bailing out the banks during the Great Recession without prosecuting Wall Street law breakers. He notes the Roosevelt Administration moved frequently to break up big banks and fired Wall Street executives.
Frank also contends that “Big Medicine” and “Big Learning” are slowly bankrupting America. With respect to “Big Learning,” he said tuition rates have risen exponentially while more and more PhDs are forced to work as non-tenured adjunct professors earning about $1,500 per course.
In an excellent interview by Kathy Kiely on Bill Moyers web site, Moyers & Company, Frank calls Bernie Sanders a badly needed voice of discontent in the Democratic party, the only one who is raising issues about monopoly and anti-trust, fair trade, inadequate health care, out-of -control college tuition, etc.
If Sanders is not a candidate in November, Frank said he will vote for Hilary Clinton over Trump, though unenthusiastically.