October 31, 2010

I’m angry and depressed and afraid. I just finished reading Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew.

Beginning with Reagan, conservatives and the conservative movement have changed. Frank talks about this relatively new conservative industry. The conservative industry is hugely wealthy and actually wants to destroy the government. Grover Norquist says it. So do others.

I always figured that both progressives and conservatives believed in good government, just different government. But Frank documents the contrary. The industry of conservatism just doesn’t believe in government. So the conservative industry works to destroy government. But there’s more.

The conservative industry focuses on wealth and encourages inequity. Political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson explain that over the past three decades, American politics has become “money-centered at exactly the same time that American society has grown more unequal.”

Frank writes: “The most cherished dream of conservative Washington is that liberalism can somehow be defeated, finally and irreversibly, in the ways that armies are beaten and pests are exterminated…. [I]n America, conservatism is a destroyer of tradition, not a preserver. Left unconstrained by other forces, the free-market system is one of the most restless, destructive arrangements ever contrived…”

In conclusion, Frank notes, “democracy cannot work when wealth is distributed as lopsidedly as ours is.” A century ago, back in the robber baron days, Justice Louis Brandeis said the same thing: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

What do you choose? Read The Wrecking Crew.

Filed under: Social Commentary

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

Get non-profit resources in your inbox