Episode 2: Thomas Frank - Listen, Liberal
Who could argue with the idea of modernisation? When Bill Clinton remodelled the Democratic Party in the 90s, he opened up trade and let the manufacturing companies pour out. He ripped up the floorboards of the welfare state. He...oh well enough kitchen metaphors.
Thomas Frank is no fan of Bill Clinton, and his description of the five major errors Bill made in office is the jumping off point of Tom's book, Listen Liberal. However, Listen Liberal deals in more than that. Frank argues that the framing of modernisation and globalisation as inexorable processes masks the political nature of changes that are unfolding; the deindustrialisation of the American heartland, the loss of unions and the stagnation of middle and working class wages.
I caught up with him over Skype while he was on book tour in Wisconsin. We talked about Clinton complacency, how to defeat Donald Trump, union-busting and his favourite populist movement.