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"Why Was This Election Even Close"?

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What's the Matter with America? - Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter with Kansas", joins Paul Jay to answer the question: "why was this election even close"?


Paul Jay

Hi, I'm Paul Jay. Welcome to podcast, and please don't forget the donate button at the top of the web page.

As we are recording this podcast, Joe Biden is closing in on 270 electoral votes and it seems likely that eventually he'll be inaugurated President of the United States. There are still many legal shenanigans that can take place, including something dramatic from the Supreme Court. But even senior people in the Republican Party apparently expect Trump will lose. That said, why the hell was this election even close? I don't have to list the reasons why Trump should have been trounced and the Dems should have won the Senate and not lost seats in the House, as it looks like they are. If the Democrats don't take the Senate, and at the moment it looks like they won't, then there will be at least two years of gridlock, exactly what Wall Street wanted.

Now, joining us to answer the question, What's the matter with America? is Thomas Frank. He's a political analyst, historian, and journalist. He co-founded and edited The Baffler magazine. He's written several books, most notably, What's the Matter with Kansas? in 2004, and Listen, Liberal in 2016. And his most recent book is The People, No. Thanks for joining us, Thomas.

Thomas Frank

Paul, it is my pleasure to be here once again one more time after one more disastrous election for Team Liberal. [Laughing.]

Paul Jay

Yeah, no kidding.

Thomas Frank

And here we are again.

Paul Jay

Now, the problem is, is when you and I interview, we always have so much fun. And the problem is, it ain't no laughing matter what's going on here.

Thomas Frank

I know; I know.

Paul Jay

But I suppose, what the hell?

Thomas Frank

The only reason I chuckle about it and I know it's not funny; it's deeply frustrating is because I've written about it for so many years. It's like we're in this eternal return [i.e., eternal recurrence], and it's all out there, you know, anybody can see this. And yet the people responsible refused to do anything about it. Look, I've been writing about this for years. You've been talking about this for years. But they refused, you know, to do what needs to be done to make sure it doesn't happen again. So, there is this kind of comical nature to it.

Paul Jay

I think the problem for the corporate Democrats obviously, first of all, it's their own self-interest but I don't know what they really believe in their heart of hearts in terms of what they want.

But I think they are terrified that the financial sector will simply go over to the Republicans whole hog if they don't play this centrist, Wall Street-pleasing game, if they really go into if you want to use the term "left populism." But which is, as you pointed out in your book and in our other interview, actually "populism."

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