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PROGRESSIVE EVANGELICAL KANSAN CRITIQUES THOMAS' WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS ?--WITH HELP FROM OTHER AUTHORS

By       Message Kevin Anthony Stoda     Permalink
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With this writing, I am simultaneously reviewing these two books- [1] Thomas Frank's (2005) bestseller, WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS ? and [2] Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy's (2002) THE GENEROSITY FACTOR. I am doing this because they compliment each other. That is, they correct each other's shortfalls into how to approach Christian America and shine a more progressive path in the 21st Century.

Combined, these authors provide two important starting points for concerned justice-oriented Christians to begin to attack from two opposite sides the anti-justice path of the current political and this global regime-a regime which is hyper-focused on taking from the poor (and making them more left out and isolated) while allowing the real elites, wealthy and powerful (both liberal and conservative) to get away with highway robbery across America and the globe for over the past 40 years.

Thomas Frank's writing on Kansas oer recent decades provides a classic attack on the misdirected mind-frame in the U.S.A that single issues can matter more than the commonwealth of its entire citizenship. Frank targets specifically the Biggest of Lies in America.

This Big Lie is namely that "class doesn't matter in America". Frank properly shames both the left and right, i.e. the Republicans (conservatives and moderates) and Democrats (supposedly liberals), the many misdirected scholars, researchers and economists-as well as most other citizens of his home state of Kansas--for falling for this Biggest Lie and propagating the lie without looking at the demographic facts about poverty, power, and wealth distribution in the land..

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Coming from Kansas myself, I have to concur that far too many of my own brethren indigenous to that state have fallen for the unexamined cliché that class doesn't matter in our lives. This penchant for voters to ignore the truth led to their ignoring their own class interests which led many Americans to begin to abandon the Democratic party in the 1960s. Eventually, by the 1990s when neo-liberals like Bill Clinton had taken over the party of America's disenfranchised and poor labor, the abandonment of our Democrat Party heritage across America had come to full hemorrhage.


AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT: IT'S EDUCATION STUPID


As a teacher , I would say that this lack of self-analysis by Kansas voters and others is partly due to poor education practices. Sadly, this is something that neither Frank nor the other two authors, Blanchard and Cathy, deal with.

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For example, there is a tremendous lack of critical thinking being practiced in schools and there is a keep failure to require proper geography and demographic skills in citizenship courses-all which would immensely to aid our Kansas' youth to be able to interpret the reality of class and power around them. These needed studies in demographics and geography should include ethnic, social, economic, and class geography, e.g. learning where products are produced or services provided and why.

This neglect in geographic and demographic citizenship skills is as a great national shame as there are currently so many programs, diagrams, charts and authentic material available for students on the internet to become so much better than their parents in understanding how their own country is populated and how the world functions. If curricula developers and test designers would recognize this need "to stop winging it" when it comes to geography and knowledge of cultures-as the neo-cons under Bush and Cheney have tried to do for seven years--, America could really enter the 21st Century prepared for the global economy as the Europeans are doing.


FRANK'S KANSAS AND AMERICA


Getting back to Frank's book, the author also does make a good case that liberals and moderates have not done a great job of building up any national network of think tanks and support systems for good critical education and the development of better studies of economics than currently are financed by giants, like the Heritage Foundation or America's Free Enterprise Institute. However, he never linked it to support for specific think tanks, like those already running such Ben (of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream) who is running the TRUE MAJORITY campaign.

Moreover, in observing how easy it was for the neo-cons to raise cash for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 elections-despite so many of Bush & Cheney's obvious shortfalls [as leaders and decision makers]-, it is clear that the Democrat Party can never catch up unless it either (1) buys up a majority of the nation's media already-owned by elitist conservative and radical conservative types or (2) goes out and organizes the masses in a good old campaign focusing labor needs and the needs of all disenfranchised.

As Frank notes in his 2005 "New Afterword", in most of the previous four or five presidential elections, the Democratic Party chose not to gather voters to battle for their historical interests. In short, the fact is that as long as the new Democrats fail to start talking about labor issues, poverty, and other class issues, the party will never get out the vote in Kansas (or around America) like the Republicans do on single issue voting campaigns, like abortion, homosexuality, or against gun-control.

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SPIRIT OF THE OLD KANSAS VERSUS THE NEW

A main focus of Frank's book is targeted at raising or re-raising Kansas' resident's consciousness that it was once populated by nation's leaders in progressive and social change politics. He succeeds in doing this in a fairly fair handed manner.

All in all, Frank's WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS? is an excellent read, insightful and fun. For example, as I read the following tale about the town of Ulysses, Kansas dug up by Frank from old WPA brochures, I burst out in a laughter and literally shook the café where I was reading Frank's well-researched book.

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http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/3-big-paradigms-hol

KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)
 

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