Fear factor

Writing months before the 2004 presidential election, Thomas Frank predicted that many members of the working and middle classes would vote on issues of culture, not economics. Being correct on this point won’t bring satisfaction to Frank, who begins and ends What’s the Matter with Kansas? by puzzling over conservatives’ ability to generate cultural anger and to use that anger to persuade the victims of economic change to vote against their economic interests. Frank sees this new style of conservatism as the “Great Backlash,” a movement that mobilizes voters by arousing public outrage over everything from school busing to unchristian art to the teaching of evolution.


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