The subject of Listen, Liberal! is the Democratic Party’s failure over the last few decades to do anything really meaningful about income inequality.
Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. This is not for lack of opportunity: Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages go nowhere, and the free-trade deals keep coming.
The standard explanation for the Democrats’ failure are the rise of the right, which is supposed to be in league with the devil, and the way money-in-politics works its ugly will. I have described both of these in previous books. But as explanations for the Democrats’ failure they are ultimately inadequate, as is the favorite pundit theory that our Federal government is simply incapable of making big, sweeping turns.
What I propose in this book is something else: that the Democrats are a class party in the most basic sense of the phrase, and that the socioeconomic group whose interests they represent most enthusiastically--the satisfied and prosperous professional class--simply doesn’t care all that much about income inequality.
In addition to the startling and/or obvious facts I present to support this theory, “Listen, Liberal” contains: A look back at the “New Politics” and “Neo-Liberal” movements, a searching examination of the achievements of the Clinton presidency, a visit with the “creative class,” a conjecture or two about Obama’s fascination with tech, a Clinton Foundation event MC’d by Hillary herself, and of course a trip to Martha’s Vineyard.
Taken as a whole, it is an attempt to understand the epidemic of liberal disillusionment as a genuine phenomenon rather than just to brush it off. It’s a meditation on a time in which middle America has crumbled, Wall Street has prospered, and hopeful liberals found themselves betrayed again and again and again.
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