Despite his alarming rhetoric and bad manners, Donald Trump continues to sweep state primary elections, adding New York to his win column most recently. His string of victories have political commentators of all stripes noodling about how the U.S. electoral process could have become so unpredictale. Author and political journalist Thomas Frank is the latest, contending that you can thank the Clintons and the professional class they represent for the current political mess.
Artisanal shoppers, app makers and innovators have taken over the Democratic party, Frank says in his new book, Listen, Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People. This new "learning class" has enjoyed four Presidential terms of political power, yet ignored the needs of the working class. This division in the party has created an angry swell of populism, Frank says, and those voters are looking for a new champion.
Just as E. J. Dionne argued that the GOP has left behind the Sam’s Club voters, Frank points out that the Clinton and the Obama administrations have made political decisions favoring the Democratic elite, members of a new meritocracy where, “everybody gets what they deserve, and what they deserve is defined by how well they did in school.” Frank reminds us it was Clinton who deregulated the banks, and their greed caused a worldwide financial crisis. It was Obama who rescued those banks and left them unpunished, a slight ordinary people with weaker retirement funds will never forget. Similarly, Clinton pushed NAFTA through Congress, allowing U.S. companies to turn on workers with threats to relocate operations in Mexico. Neither Clinton nor Obama protected the working class, Frank argues. Those hard scrabble folks watched blight take over their Main Streets as Silicon Valley and Wall Street prospered, so they are looking to the 2016 election for change and hope, but not from their own Democratic party.