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PublicAffairs

Left Behind: The Democrats' Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality

Left Behind: The Democrats' Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality

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The 40-year history of how Democrats chose political opportunity over addressing inequality--and how the poor have paid the price

For decades, the Republican Party has been known as the party of the rich: arguing for "business-friendly" policies like deregulation and tax cuts. But this incisive political history shows that the current inequality crisis was also enabled by a Democratic Party that catered to the affluent.

The result is one of the great missed opportunities in political history: a moment when we had the chance to change the lives of future generations and were too short-sighted to take it.

Historian Lily Geismer recounts how the Clinton-era Democratic Party sought to curb poverty through economic growth and individual responsibility rather than asking the rich to make any sacrifices. Fueled by an ethos of "doing well by doing good," microfinance, charter schools, and privately funded housing developments grew trendy. Though politically expedient and sometimes profitable in the short term, these programs fundamentally weakened the safety net for the poor.

This piercingly intelligent book shows how bygone policy decisions have left us with skyrocketing income inequality and poverty in America and widened fractures within the Democratic Party that persist to this day.

Author: Lily Geismer
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Published: 03/01/2022
Pages: 448
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.45lbs
Size: 9.30h x 5.90w x 1.60d
ISBN: 9781541757004

Review Citation(s):
Publishers Weekly 01/10/2022
Kirkus Reviews 01/15/2022

About the Author
Lily Geismer is an associate professor of history at Claremont McKenna College, where she teaches courses on recent urban and political history. She has earned fellowships from the Carnegie Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University. She is also a member of the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians.
Her previous book is Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, Jacobin, Democracy, Los Angeles Review of Books and she has appeared on NPR's 1A with Joshua Johnson, the Sam Seder Show, WBUR's Here and Now, and other podcasts.

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