Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Wrecking Crew

Chet Scoville of Vanity Press has an excellent review of Thomas Frank's book, The Wrecking Crew. Here are snippets, but go and read his review and then go and buy the book.

Chet Scoville: (my bold)
All of these transformations, Frank argues, have focused on only one thing consistently over time: the dismantling of democratic government and its replacement by market rule. Other conservative causes and justifications have come and gone over the years: anti-communism, the defense of apartheid South Africa, right-wing “freedom fighters,” all have slipped away as surely as the “global war on terror” will. What consistently remains is an attitude about government and the market: the former is always irredeemably bad and corrupt; the latter is always immaculately good and pure.

This attitude has profound effects on the way conservatives govern. Simply put, they govern badly because they believe that they must and should. As one conservative pioneer puts it, “the best public servant is the worst one.” The cronyism and ineptitude we have seen under the Bush administration, Frank argues, is not an accident.


Frank leaves his readers with a paradox and a challenge. The paradox is that, despite the conservatives’ rhetorical longing for the old days of the white picket fence and the prosperous small town, it is their own movement that has destroyed that world – a world that the New Deal liberalism they abhor built in the first place. The challenge is to find a way to make people realize this fact: that conservatives have had their chance; that we have seen what they do when in power; that they are responsible for what has happened to us. “Whenever there was a choice,” Frank writes, “to be made between markets and free people – between money and the common good – the conservatives chose money. It’s time to make them answer for it” (Frank 274). This book, in providing such a comprehensive account and analysis of conservative misgovernance, is a good first step in that direction.
Exactly. Why vote into government those who are dedicated to dismantling it? Why vote into office those who won't lead? Why let someone speak for you who only speaks for money?


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