Thomas Frank appeared on Chris Hayes' show Friday night to discuss Kansas after Hayes' in-depth look at what has been going on there, from the failure to expand Medicaid to nullification of all gun regulations.
"The gravity of discontent pulls to the right," Frank said. He also said it was "a failure of Democrats to win places like Kansas."
It's hard to imagine Democrats winning big in a state like Kansas where so much of the political lubrication comes from Koch Industries and their converts. Still Frank has dished up some real food for thought for Democratic voters and the Democratic party as a whole.
When Chris Hayes suggested that Democrats are trying to win by running on a "lets get back to the center" strategy, Frank shot back with a stinging indictment. "The people who are saying that are very well-intentioned, but you can't have a center if you don't have a left!" He went on to explain.
"You can't balance both sides if there is only one side represented. It's like geometry."
Frank also pointed out that in Kansas' case, "all of the fire and the energy are concentrated on the right and there is no comparable movement on the left."
He went on to point out that "the right deliberately acts like a left-wing movement and uses left-wing language" but their message is deceptive and decidedly not populist. With regard to the Tea Party, "They have got the discontent. They've captured it."
Why is there no left in Kansas? How is it possible that the state where the progressive movement was born has become wholly conservative? What would it take for liberals to harness that discontent for actual populist policies?
Food for thought.