• Left Behind

  • The Democrats' Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality
  • By: Lily Geismer
  • Narrated by: Christine Lakin
  • Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2022 Lily Geismer (P)2022 PublicAffairs

Critic Reviews

“Geismer’s outstanding Left Behind addresses a critical breach in our understanding of how the Democratic Party transformed from ‘big government’ liberalism to the champions of privatization. These policy choices have contributed to inequality and social instability, the impacts of which underlie the social unrest and disquietude that roils US society today. A crucial read.” (Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of Race for Profit and finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in History)

“Framing the story as a tragedy of good intentions gone wrong, Geismer transforms wonky policy matters into an unlikely page-turner. Readers will gain valuable insight into the Clinton presidency and its legacy in today’s distrust between progressives and centrist Democrats.”(Publishers Weekly)

“Geismer deftly weaves politics with policy to show how the Democrats reimagined poverty as a market failure…. Catnip for policy wonks and political junkies, offering solid lessons for Democrats going forward.” (Kirkus)

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