It's Not Dem vs. GOP, It's Democracy vs. Oligarchy

In 2004, Thomas Frank’s book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” tried to explain why a once Democratic state had turned resolutely Republican. His eloquent review of the rhetoric of the age was instructive.

But the presidential election of 2016 sent the sharpest message yet. Working-class voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin opted for Trump, and apparently against their economic interests. Trump had succeeded in appealing to their anger and the Democrats were caught flat-footed.

Two new books, “The System,” by the former labor secretary Robert B. Reich, and “Break ’Em Up,” by the lawyer and activist Zephyr Teachout, a onetime candidate for New York State attorney general, are among the latest examples of an evolving set of explanations that try to make sense of the 2016 results.

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