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Thomas Frank got punk'd

A few years back, Thomas Frank's "What's The Matter With Kansas?" made a big splash nationally. His basic thesis was this: Republicans won votes by promising to concentrate on issues, like abortion, dear to social conservatives—but once in office focused mostly on an economic agenda of helping big corporations and giving the poor the shaft.

Maybe that was true a decade ago, but now? Republicans won a lot of elections at the state and Congressional elections in 2010 largely because people were so frustrated with the economy and wanted something done. Instead of economic turnarounds, though, we've been given...action on abortion.

That certainly seems to be the case in Pennsylvania, where the Legislature is working on a bill that would compel doctors to show women ultrasounds of their fetuses before performing an abortion. What has the Legislature—or Gov. Tom Corbett—done to advance the economy here? Beats me.

I'm not one to belittle culture war issues. But I can't help think we got bait-and-switched. I remember Tom Corbett talking (somewhat stupdly) jobs during the 2010 campaign, not abortion. And certainly exit polls in 2010 indicated that the economy was a big reason voters were turning to Republicans.

Don't get me wrong: Pennsylvania Republicans have also been hot on the trail of helping big corporations and giving the poor the shaft. Overall, though, it sure seems like we were voting for an economic agenda—and the social agenda snuck in under that cover. Time for Thomas Frank to revise his thesis.


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