Book Reviews

Listen Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People by Thomas Frank

In my quest to be more well rounded in my news consumption this month, I picked up a few different political books to consume. One of these was a middle of the road book, written by a liberal, condemning liberals.

I really enjoyed this book and it was really eye opening for me. I think what I’m going to learn most about my no news, fox news, cnn, world news challenge this month is that I really do live in a blue bubble here in Portland. I only talk to people who think like I do. I only read news that confirms what I already believe to be true.

If this book taught me anything it’s that I don’t really know anything. I know what I choose to read and what I choose to hear.

Now this book isn’t without its faults. Frank seems to have a personnel vendetta against innovation and Uber in particular. Not without reason, but it also goes a bit far. Like, innovation isn’t BAD, and it’s a good thing liberals support innovations. However, it’s not ALL THERE IS, and focusing solely on that as the key to solve all our woes is not helpful. Not EVERYONE is going to want to be college educated and start their own business that will turn into a monopoly. We need to make sure those people still have access to good jobs with fair wages.

That’s where we are falling behind: with the working class. We are too focused on the ‘Professional’ class. The elite educated class. We believe all our problems can be solved with education and the flip side of that is that we are leaving out a huge voting populous that used to be ours. We used to be the party of the people. What happened?

Frank sets out to show how our two party system has morphed into Conservative and Not-As-Conservative and I think he does a pretty good job. Which billionaire do you want to elect next that has no real idea of the struggle of the working class? We cannot elect people solely on which candidate is more moral: we (liberals) will lose that election again and again if we continue down that path.

I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 because I could afford to vote for her over Trump. I am an educated college graduate with a good job and I can choose morality over everything else because I will continue to have income in my field. Clinton’s proposed policies supported people like me. They supported the educated and the innovators. The white collar workers. What they ignored were the blue collar workers.

Blue collar workers who might have no interest in being college educated (and that’s okay!). Not everyone wants to be! AND THAT’S OKAY. And those used to be our people, liberals were the party of the working class – and we have left them behind. We have told them there is no place for them among our elite educated class where everyone supposedly wants to be. They cannot always afford to vote for morality as much as they might want to.

62,984,825 people voted for Trump and they aren’t ALL racist misogynistic idiots. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that those with high moral standards in that number were people of white privilege that didn’t feel like they had a lot to lose on the morality front of the election. If the election had been about whether to vote for a racist or not, I believe that most people would have voted for the person who wasn’t a outright racist. But that’s not all there was at stake for those people.

A lot of those people who voted for Trump don’t have to worry about policies that effect people who aren’t white, straight and male (privledged people) because they ARE those things and they will always be protected by that. They might, however, have to worry about their manual labor jobs. They have families to support, rent to pay, mouths to feed, and they need their jobs to do that. And a college education isn’t always worth a whole lot when you live in small town America. So all they’re hearing from the liberals is that jobs will come to them if they just go to a big city and get a degree. INNOVATE! Otherwise you’ll get left behind. It’s YOUR fault you work where you do. Those jobs don’t work anymore. Get an education and all will be solved. And that doesn’t exactly work for them.

That is what Frank’s book is all about. It’s not perfect, it has its flaws. Frank is by no means a Trump guy. He hates the guy as he says several times. Frank’s beef is with liberals throwing elitism at blue collar workers as a solution for them. A solution that doesn’t resonate with them. And when they’re being told ‘too bad, that’s how things work now’, that message doesn’t resonate. They turn to the party who is telling them they will keep their jobs (even if they won’t). The turn to the party that says they will fight for their right to good wages in a factory (even if they won’t). Because the rhetoric liberals are pushing when it comes to the working class just isn’t realistic for them.

Book Reviews

Top 5 Fiction and Non-Fiction Reads of 2018

Happy holidays to you all. I wanted to take a break from my minimalist wardrobe this week to talk about my favorite non-fiction and fiction reads of the year. I’ll wrap up my wardrobe challenge next week and give you all a sneak of what my January challenge will be. Have a wonderful holiday!

Top Five Fiction Books

Girl At War

I just finished this book last week so it’s still fresh in my mind. It was the only book I read that made me cry this year. An emotional roller coaster covering the Yugoslav Wars and a young girl’s experience during them. The main character loses her family and becomes a child solider, and eventually sent to America to adoptive parents. The book covers her incredible journey back to her homeland to see what became of her friends and family as she struggles to define what ‘home’ means.

Hate U Give

This was a popular book this year and I read it early on in the year. It had been on my list for all of 2017 and I never got around to reading it. I could kick myself for not reading it sooner. It pulled me in immediately and made me hold onto it long after I finished. I still haven’t seen the movie yet! It’s on my list though.

Outlander

I am so late to this party, but I am glad I’ve finally arrived. This book can be problematic at times, but I can see what the hype is. I tore through it in just a few weeks (even though it’s ginormous) and am currently starting the first season of the TV show and reading book two at the same time. I can’t get enough of Jamie and every time he says sassenach I literally squeal and kick my feet. I can’t wait to read the entire series.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

You didn’t think as a 11 year nerdfighter veteran that I’d leave out Hank Green’s book did you? I really enjoyed this read. It took me a bit to get into, but once it took off I was ripping through pages. Green leaves the story open for a sequel, which I will gladly rip through when it arrives.

Exit West

This book came at just the right time and it’s another one I’m late to the party of. It’s a fictitious version of a fictitious situation that feels all too real. Themes of refugees and migrants are at the forefront of this wonderful and engrossing read by Mohsin Hamid. I think it will stay an important book as we navigate the waters of this current presidency.

Top Five Non-Fiction Books

Destiny of the Republic

I am doing this weird task and trying to read a biography of each U.S. president. I just year two of with our 21st president, Chester Arthur. I really loved the Ulysses S. Grant bio I read this year, but the book that really stood out to me was Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President. The book read so differently from other biographies I had read on presidents. It goes not just into 20th president James Garfield’s life and assassination, but also gives us insight to the man who murdered him, and what medicine was like at the time. Millard also goes into detail on Alexander Graham Bell as well, who at the time was very involved in trying to save the president. A nice surprise.

Eight Years in Power

This book was eye opening. It’s penned by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer for The Atlantic during the Obama years. Coates takes us through eight articles he previous published, one for each year of the presidency and gives an eye opening account of America and race as Obama’s two terms progress. He prefaces each article with his reflections on what the article means to him now with a Trump presidency at hand. I recommend this book to everyone I talk politics to.

Billions and Billions

I’ve almost read every Carl Sagan book, but this was my favorite so far. Itwas the last book published before his death in 1996. It contains the reflections and predictions of one of the most brilliant people to ever walk the Earth at the end and beginning of a new millennia. Sagan’s predictions 20 years later are eerily coming to pass and the book is a wonderful reflection of humanity and our place in the cosmos. Only time will tell if the rest of his predictions come to fruition.

Being Mortal

This was another book I’ve been buying for people and in turn they have been buying it for other people. As soon as you finish it you want to discuss it with someone. It’s a fascinating look at death and really is a good book for a reader of any age. Atul Gawande is a doctor who forces us to examine the life we want to live and the death we want to have.

The Fire this time

This book is a direct response to The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Baldwin’s book came out in 1963 and consists of two articles and is considered one of the best books on race relations ever. In The Fire This Time, Jesmyn Ward compiles essays from prominent African American authors and takes a hard look at race relations in our society today.