Frank is a gifted writer who can write about serious topics with a brisk style. He delivers a populist critique of modern Democrats, arguing that they have sold out to the professional class and buzzword solutions like education and “innovation” that actually serve to justify the power and privilege of the professional class. Rather than focus on creating a better country for the working people who have historically been the constituency of the Democratic party, modern Democrats have become infatuated with Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
Since I am not a liberal or populist, I don’t have the same stake in this argument as Frank or his targets do. It seemed to me that the criticisms often hit home. Yet like many arguments that call for Democrats to recapture the boldness of the New Deal and Great Society, it does not deal with one of the main practical arguments against that move: the world economy has indeed become more competitive, which has placed a great deal of pressure on the New Deal-Great Society model of political economy. I’m not saying that a bland Clintonian neoliberalism is the only alternative, but it seems to me that the historical conditions that allowed for the New Deal and Great Society don’t exist anymore.