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What's the Matter with Kansas?
Politics and Economy:
Thomas Frank
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As Democrats and Republicans battle for the hearts and minds of voters in key swing states, author Thomas Frank turns his attention to the traditionally red-voting state of Kansas which, he says, is a microcosm of a sea change in the voting patterns of working class Americas. Blue collar workers, says Frank, are embracing a conservative moral agenda centering on opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support for school prayer. The American working class, he argues, is voting against is own economic interests. What can the Sunflower state tell us about why Americans struggling to provide for their families would vote conservative and against their own economic futures? Bill Moyers talks with Frank, who argues that a culture war has led to a political deck stacked against America’s working poor.

Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1965, and lived with his family in the suburbs of that city for eighteen years. He graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas, in 1983. He went to the University of Kansas for one year, before transferring to the University of Virginia in 1984, graduating from the latter in 1987. The next year, he and some of his undergraduate friends launched THE BAFFLER magazine, a journal of cultural criticism, which he edits to this day.

In 1988 Frank began studying American history at the University of Chicago, from which he received a PhD in 1994. His dissertation later became THE CONQUEST OF COOL (University of Chicago Press, 1997), a book about the infatuation of certain branches of industry with counterculture in the 1960s.

Frank has contributed to publications like HARPER'S magazine, THE NATION, IN THESE TIMES, THE CHICAGO READER, and LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE. He wrote about strikes in Illinois and Michigan, the alarming power of what he called the "culture trust," the many corporate uses of the imagery of rebellion, and the rise of a new breed of hipster businessman. Interest in this last subject led him to write ONE MARKET UNDER GOD, a study of an idea that he called "market populism" — the notion that free markets do the will of the people — and its various manifestations among politicians, on Wall Street, in management theory, and elsewhere in American life.

Frank has also edited two anthologies of essays from THE BAFFLER: COMMODIFY YOUR DISSENT (coedited with Matt Weiland) and BOOB JUBILEE (coedited with David Mulcahey). The title of the latter refers to the "New Economy" madness of the 1990s.

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