HomeCommunity ContentTPW-CafeWelcome to the First Ever Readers’ Circle discussion!
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loneaudience

Hi! Excited to be here and eager to get started.

loneaudience

It’s hard to pick a favorite quote because in every chapter there were sentences or paragraphs that gripped me. But I suppose one must start somewhere. I was struck right away in the introduction by Frank’s style. The tone and language was accessible (and considering what he says about professional jargon later it makes sense that he would make it accessible).

I was also struck by what he wrote in chapter two:

“Leading Democrats actually chose to reach out to the affluent and to turn their backs on workers.” [italics in original]

loneaudience

Because I’m an educator, I sat up and paid attention any time education was mentioned. I liked how Frank talked about how education is NOT the answer to inequality. We are often told that if you go to school and learn then you will get ahead. But we can see simply by looking around at millennials that this is not true. They have gotten an education and there are no jobs for them. Frank points out how workers are quite skilled and very productive so the whole education argument falls apart.

polarbear4

Yes, this is a neolib trope that Dean was parroting the other day. Oh, well, we just need to educate people to prepare them for the TPP. We’ve been “educating” people since 1992 when the Big Dog was in.

Didn’t get to the book yet, so mostly lurking and enjoying the comments. Thanks.

loneaudience

I value education. Of course, I do. But to say that education is the “be all and end all” is just wrong. I only have to look as close as my own father, an uneducated man but the most intelligent person I’ve ever known!

Hollyanna

Married to an academic, spent a large part of my life working in universities, and can honestly say that some of the most intelligent people I’ve had the pleasure to know were farmers.

NVPainter

Prime example: adjunct professors.

(Former high school teacher here. I considered teaching at university level, but took an object lesson from what happened when one of my profs passed away. They replaced her with five part-timers — and that was in 1982.)

Hollyanna

Adjuncts are treated as widgets, just another infinitely replaceable unit. One of the greatest disgraces of academia.

NVPainter

It’s so wrong! One of my profs, who was marvelous, taught two or three courses a year that were filled to capacity. She eventually left to teach high school, so she could get benefits. (Lucky students to have had her in HS! She’s a great teacher.)

loneaudience

I found it maddening that YES it took a Democrat (or a couple of them) to help achieve what the Republicans couldn’t do on their own. Or wouldn’t have been able to do on their own. The capitulation of the Democrats or the merging of professionals regardless of political affiliation is the biggest betrayal and has landed us where we are today.

Hollyanna

A thousand times yes to this! One of the worst betrayals in the relentless march of transformation to just another arm of the corporatocracy.

loneaudience

I am a teacher but I recognize that education is ONE path to success and hardly the only one. Sure I can quote Shakespeare and go on about the causes of the Great War but I can’t change the oil in my car or build a cabinet with my own two hands. We all have different skills and it is not necessary to place them in a kind of hierarchy with those at the top deemed better than those below.

loneaudience

The book for me felt like vindication for the anger I have felt toward the Democrats. Both the Clintons and Obama are revealed to have cast the working class aside. This is something we already knew. The New Democrats may have brought the party of the working people to the brink of extinction.

NVPainter

The thing that has surprised me is the lack of support for or defense of unions as they’ve been under attack since Reagan. I guess that’s the real indicator — and yet unions have continued to support them. Although where else could unions go, given the non-stop attacks from Republicans?

George HW Bush criticized the NEA (National Education Association — though I know you folks know that!) in every single speech he gave, because it was the largest union in the country at the time. (Of course, he also was stumping for charters and privatization. Teachers have been punching bags for decades now.)

loneaudience

Here’s another great and insightful quote from Frank related to teachers and unions:

“But it was public school teachers who made the most obvious target for professional reprimand by the administration. They are, after all, pointedly different from other highly educated professions: Teachers are represented by trade unions, not proper professional associations, and their values of seniority and solidarity conflict with the cult of merit embraced by other professions.”

NVPainter

Wow. Yes, I remember all the talk about merit pay for people whose students tested well — when we all knew high scores on tests are correlate more with students’ socioeconomics than anything else, and that the more you teach, the better you get, if you’re good at what you do.

Thank you for sharing this. I don’t know when I’m going to have a chance to read Listen, Liberal, but clearly there is a lot more there that I will relate to personally….

loneaudience

Here’s another quote that really resonated with me:

Democrats don’t seem really to care about winning elections. Even that, the most fundamental political act, takes a back seat to professional vanity.”

I think we all saw this when the Dems discarded the 50 State Strategy and lost the midterms in 2010. In fact, the continued to hemorrhage seats in both houses and here we are today.

magsview

What? You mean that the 2010 election results (and the fact that incomes have not come “back”) are NOT the fault of millennials as BC charged??

“If all the young people who claim to be disillusioned now had voted in 2010, we wouldn’t have lost the Congress, and we’d probably have our incomes back.”

I, like polarbear, have not yet had time to read Mr. Frank’s book, but I will!! I’ve certainly heard the book referenced a lot.

loneaudience

It’s disgusting how they deflect. It’s always and ever OUR fault. They take no responsibility. All they ask is for our votes. And we give it to them.

No more!

NVPainter

Giving up the 50 State Strategy was bloomingly idiotic.

Hollyanna

Agree wholeheartedly. It was monumentally stupid, but they will accept no responsibility for their poor decisions as long as they can deflect blame to the electorate. I wonder why we are feeling so demoralized.

loneaudience

One more quote:

“Inno is a fable that persuades us to accept economic arrangements we would otherwise regard as unpleasant or intolerable—that convinces us that the very particular configuration of economic power we inhabit is in fact a neutral matter of science, of nature, of the way God wants things to be.”

As a teacher, I am constantly faced with the latest “innovations” in education. However, I have been teaching for 30 years and my experience tells me that at the end of the day innovations are just tools. The basic skills have not changed. Student need to read more, write more, speak more, and listen more. I’ve just come from a school where every student had an Apple laptop. I’m not a Luddite but don’t see that the amazing tool made too much of a difference overall.

Linda Thieman

I hear you on that one, lone! In my experience, the more laptops you find in the classroom, the more the students goof off. I finally just outlawed electronic device use in my French classes except for during the breaks (or if they wanted to take a picture of the board, for any reason). Was far easier to manage the classroom. A language classroom always requires a lot of interaction and so they really need to pay attention to what is happening in class. Great comment thread, you guys! Thank you, @FleurdeLisa.

loneaudience

I’m back in the public schools come August and I hear rumblings that it’s all about the computers the kids have. We’ll have to find a way to strike a balance but, as you said, they can be quite distracting.

Linda Thieman

I had more of a problem with cell phones. You let them use those things in class, you’ve lost them. What it ultimately came down to was that if they felt they needed to use a cell phone or a laptop in the classroom, they respected me enough to ask my permission, and I would always agree to it, for whatever brief period of time they specified. And the entire faculty rebelled against those clicker things! Ugh!

NVPainter

I’m glad I haven’t been in public schools as this was happening. My students needed to work on reading comprehension and critical thinking and writing, all of which I was freer to do than I would be now. It would be so much harder with the devices distracting them.

loneaudience

In the conclusion, Frank says things won’t change unless the Democrats are stripped of their “moral probity.” I wonder when this book went to press. I think this is exactly what has happened with Bernie Sanders. He has ripped the curtain back and revealed the corruption at the heart of the Democratic party. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what the effects of this will be.

loneaudience

Finally, I would like to read Barkskins by Annie Proulx next. It’s the book I’m reading at the moment. Although it’s fiction and takes place mostly in the past, it is, of course, a reflection of our times. I am particularly struck by the perspective of indigenous people as they confront Europeans. Also, the representation of other marginalized groups resonates with me.

loneaudience

@fleurdelisa Thanks so much for this. I love talking about books and ideas. I enjoyed the back and forth we shared. Hopefully more folks will join us next time. I will keep an eye out for your upcoming post and will be sure to put up some suggestions besides Barkskins. Good night.

LieparDestin

Thank you Fleur (and all above!). I’m still working my way through Frank’s latest and should be finishing up soon at which point I’ll be in a better position to throw my opinions/thoughts into the mix, sorry I’ve been useless to this conversation as of yet!

Jo Crain

I haven’t read his book but I’ve listened to his lecture and a couple of interviews so I think I have a good idea of where he is going. He does, imo, offer several good reasons as to why the “leaders” are so clueless. I think if you add in that starry eyed dazzle they have for CEOs and silicon valley types and the beltway tendency to not talk to anybody outside the bubble you have the answer to why we cannot break into their consciousness.

NVPainter

I’ve learned a lot from reading the comments!

Hollyanna

@fleurdelisa You may color me totally embarrassed! After so looking forward to this discussion, went out for coffee with friends and got derailed. Will try to do a better job of setting alarms, etc. for the next discussion. Lots of food for thought in this book. Hope it is okay to chime in late.

Hollyanna

Might I suggest The Shelf by Phyllis Rose, subtitled Adventures in Extreme Reading, The conceit is that she chose a library shelf at random and read through the books. I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for a while, but have yet to tackle it. It clocks in at a mere 238 pages. Many years ago I read her Parallel Lives:Five Victorian Marriages in a book group, enjoyed her writing style immensely and recall that it engendered a lively discussion.
I would love to read Barkskins, perhaps as a longer term project.
In general, I read for escape, love Canadian lit, Scandinavian crime novels, historical fiction…really just love books and reading in general.

Devon Bond

Great discussion , and although I haven’t read the book yet, just too many other things taking my time lately, I have gotten the gist of it from the thoughtful comments here, and the book is on my short list.
This election has really opened my eyes to how we have been played all these years.
Politicians that I have always assumed Progressive, when finally getting the chance to support a movement and a candidate that would start making government live up to its purpose,turned out to be part of the problem, not the solution as we were told when they asked for our votes.
I don’t know where my vote will go this election, vote for Clinton out of fear, or vote Green to help get their percentage up.

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