The Limousine Liberal

How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America


By Steve Fraser

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No political image in recent American history has enjoyed the impact of the “limousine liberal.” It has managed to mobilize an enduring politics of resentment directed against everything from civil rights to women’s liberation, from the war on poverty to environmental regulation. Coined in 1969 by New York City mayoralty candidate Mario Procaccino, the term took aim at what he and his largely white lower middle class and blue collar following considered the repellent hypocrisy of well-heeled types who championed the cause of the poor, especially the black poor, but who had no intention of bearing the costs of their plight. The metaphor zeroed in on liberal elites who preferred to upset rather than defend the status quo not only in race relations, but in the sexual, moral, and religious order and had little interest in looking after the needs of working people.

In The Limousine Liberal, the acclaimed historian Steve Fraser argues that it is impossible to understand American politics without coming to grips with this image, where it originated, why it persists, and where it may be taking us. He reveals that the limousine liberal had existed in all but name long before Procaccino gave it one. From Henry Ford decrying an improbable alliance of Jews, bankers, and Bolsheviks in the 1920s to the Tea Party’s vehement hatred of Hillary Clinton, the fear of the limousine liberal has stoked right-wing populism for nearly a century. Today it fuses together disparate elements of the conservative movement. Sunbelt entrepreneurs on the rise, blue collar ethnics and middle classes in decline, heartland evangelicals, and billionaire business dynasts have found common cause, despite their real differences, in shared opposition to liberal elites.

The Limousine Liberal tells an extraordinary story of why the most privileged and powerful elements of American society were indicted as subversives and reveals the reality that undergirds that myth. It goes to the heart of the great political transformation of the postwar era: the rise of the conservative right and the unmaking of the liberal consensus.



In the Beginning Was the Word

Most, if not all, limousine liberals are Democrats. Limousine liberalism functions as a political lightning rod, as a metaphor bearing such emotional force it polarizes the political universe. It freezes the system, locking it in place, rendering it inert. It defines beyond any doubt what is Republican and what is Democrat. So it is noteworthy that the original limousine liberal—the person to first suffer from the wound of that epithet—was a Republican. The metaphor—perhaps the most vivid one in the nation’s political lexicon over the past half century—turns out to be nonpartisan.

Victorious in war and prosperous once again, postwar America seemed firmly committed to the New Deal political order that had rescued the country from the trauma of the Great Depression. That the government had an essential role to play in regulating the economy and assuring a modicum of social welfare was broadly accepted. Because it had given birth to that new way of organizing society, the Democratic Party enjoyed what seemed at the time to be an enduring legitimacy. Its life expectancy, however, turned out to be greatly exaggerated.

When the New Deal Order first began to fall apart at the seams during the political and social upheavals of the 1960s, a New York City political apparatchik from the Bronx named Mario Procaccino won the Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor in 1969 after a nasty primary campaign. His foe, running on the Liberal Party line, was the sitting mayor, John Lindsay, once upon a time a Republican congressman representing the “silk-stocking district” (the wealthiest district in the nation, whose name derived from Teddy Roosevelt’s day) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. In 1965 Lindsay had become the city’s first Republican mayor since Fiorello LaGuardia. Procaccino coined the term limousine liberal to characterize what he and his largely white ethnic following from the “outer boroughs” considered the repellent hypocrisy of elitists like Lindsay: well-heeled types who championed the cause of the poor, especially the black poor, but who had no intention of bearing the costs of doing anything about their plight. They were, according to Procaccino, who was then the city’s comptroller, insulated from any real contact with poverty, crime, and the everyday struggle to get by, living in their exclusive neighborhoods, sending their children to private prep schools, sheltering their capital gains and dividends from the tax man, and getting around town in limousines, not subway cars. Not about to change the way they lived, they wanted everybody else to change, to have their kids bused to school far from home, to shoulder the tax burden of an expanding welfare system, to watch the racial and social makeup of their neighborhoods turned upside down. These self-righteous folk couldn’t care less, Procaccino proclaimed, about the “small shopkeeper, the homeowner. . . . They preach the politics of confrontation and condone violent upheaval.”1

John Vliet Lindsay was in every way a perfect specimen of this odd political subspecies: to the manner born, but prepared to overturn the ancient regime. To begin with Lindsay looked the part; he was a lean, strikingly handsome six-foot-three WASP who could have modeled for a publication like Gentlemen’s Quarterly or Esquire. Then there were his bloodlines: son of an international investment banker father who served as the president of the American Swiss Corporation, which was itself affiliated with Credit Suisse in Zurich. Lindsay’s mother hailed from the higher reaches of seventeenth-century Anglo-Dutch New York. They were a Social Register household living on Park Avenue.

Their son was bred accordingly, attending the Buckley School in New York, then on from there to St. Paul’s, the exclusive preparatory school in Concord, New Hampshire, which prepared him for Yale. There he rowed crew and was elected to Scroll and Key, not quite Skull and Bones, but nonetheless a young gentlemen’s club of considerable social prestige. After a stint in the US Navy as a commissioned officer in World War II, where he saw action in Sicily and the Pacific, he resumed the life he was fated to lead: law school at Yale, which in turn launched him into adulthood at a white-shoe law firm (Webster, Sheffield, Fleishman, Hitchcock, and Chrystie). And he married well to a Vassar graduate (and distant relation of two presidents—William Henry and Benjamin Harrison) whom he met in Greenwich, Connecticut, at the wedding of the daughter of Senator Prescott Bush. The Lindsays settled down in New York, began a family, and attended St. James’s Episcopal Church on Madison Avenue.

Credentials like those qualified Lindsay for an equally distinctive place in public life when that turned out to be what the young lawyer decided he wanted. From the outset, he displayed sympathies that past generations of men from his social station would usually have eschewed. He went to work for the Justice Department in the Eisenhower administration, where he helped craft the Civil Rights Act of 1957, a toothless piece of legislation but nonetheless a straw in the way the wind had begun to blow. Next he ran for Congress from the seventeenth district, the same silk-stocking district he grew up in, known for its genteel, patrician politics: conventional when it came to economic policy, leery of the messiness of urban mass politics, but in other ways quite forward-looking, favoring civil rights, civil liberties, and an internationalist foreign policy. This was the neighborhood of Nelson Rockefeller, Herbert Claiborne Pell, Jacob Javits, and Thomas Dewey, lions of what back then was the dominant wing of the Republican Party.

Lindsay was a younger iteration of this patrician type. He was even more open to the unorthodox political and cultural currents that had begun to course through the country when he defeated William vanden Heuvel, a Democrat but otherwise an exemplar of the same elite liberalism, to become the district’s congressman in 1960. In office he endorsed all the reforms associated with Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” including Medicare and the war on poverty, federal aid to education, the creation of a Department of Urban Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, immigration reform, and above all the dismantling of American apartheid. The latter included vigorous efforts to promote school desegregation, abolish the poll tax, decertify unions guilty of racial discrimination, and promote anti-lynching legislation and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, respectively. The congressman even opposed the seating of the all-white Mississippi delegation to the 1964 Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City, a gesture without force since he was a Republican, but of some symbolic significance.

In that same fateful year and despite considerable pressure from Republican Party leaders, Lindsay refused to endorse Barry Goldwater for president. He was repelled by what the New York Times referred to as “Bastille Day in Reverse” led by “Cactus Jacobins” from the Republican Sunbelt, who had so rudely dismissed the presumptive limousine liberal favorite Nelson Rockefeller at the party’s convention in San Francisco. Later, when ghetto riots and rebellions turned city after city into bloody theaters of racial mayhem, Lindsay was appointed vice chairman of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (generally known as the Kerner Commission after its chairman Otto Kerner, the governor of Illinois). Lindsay became its most vocal spokesman. The commission’s investigations into what was happening and why concluded that white racism was to blame, a verdict that seemed at one and the same time both self-evident and an evasion.2

What really earned him Mario Procaccino’s memorable bon mot, however, was the architecture of Lindsay’s political ascension in New York and what he did with power once he had it. Lindsay constructed an odd coalition of those with too much and those with far too little. His Republicanism notwithstanding his appeal to the normally Democratic African American and Puerto Rican communities was substantial. He made plain his sympathies for civil rights activism and, once in office, deliberately circumvented the black political establishment, sometimes appointing street insurgents instead to positions in his administration. He championed, sometimes at great political risk, controversial reforms including a civilian police review board, low-income scatter-site housing, school decentralization, community control, and New York’s version of the “Philadelphia Plan” to compel the construction unions to open their ranks to minority workers.3

“Power to the People” turned out to be strangely appealing to the people who already had power, or rather to a distinct subset of the privileged and especially the children of privilege who completed the circle of the mayor’s limousine liberalism. On the night of Lindsay’s first victory in 1965, the journalist Jack Newfield reported that the crowd celebrating at the candidate’s headquarters had “Princeton and Radcliffe etched in their Scott Fitzgerald faces.” Newfield had a point. From the outset, Lindsay was the favorite of a New York establishment that included John Hay (Jock) Whitney of the Whitney dynasty and owner of the Herald Tribune, David Rockefeller, John Loeb, Walter Thayer, Mrs. Winthrop Aldrich, Mrs. Vincent Astor, William Paley, Paul Warburg, Mrs. August Belmont, Harold Vanderbilt, Henry Ford II, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Biddle, General Lucius Clay, Christian Herter, and cultural celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr., Bennett Cerf, Liza Minnelli, James Earl Jones, Richard Rodgers, and Harold Prince, as well as top-draw, politically active philanthropies like the Ford Foundation. The chairman of the finance committee for Lindsay’s reelection campaign in 1969 was Gustave Levy, who as the head of Goldman Sachs was ideally positioned to pull in Wall Street money.4

For its more senior figures, this was a world of genteel, cosmopolitan sophistication that honored a commitment to formal equality before the law and cultivated a sense of noblesse social responsibility for those less privileged, less gifted, less able. However, the passions unleashed by the social upheaval and mass mobilizations of the 1960s altered the valence of these political emotions. Appalled by the viciousness of the American racial order, whose ugliness became more and more intolerable with each new shooting, church burning, lynching, beating, and police riot, a younger cohort—some of them, like Lindsay, offspring of what by then was widely known as the establishment—had come to romanticize the ghetto activist as a liberator from the nation’s peculiar form of domestic colonialism, just as it cheered on the guerrilla armies warring against Western imperialism around the world. The barrio might be dirt poor, but for just that reason it bred an outlier purity of moral purpose. A certain degree of patronizing was at work that the New York Times called “elegant slumming” and that Tom Wolfe skewered in New York magazine as “radical chic” in his description of a fund-raiser for the Black Panther Party hosted by Leonard Bernstein in his midtown Manhattan penthouse and attended by the city’s “beautiful people.” Whether condescending or self-deluded, this same milieu was far more comfortable with the politics of the barricades and with the currents of sexual liberation than were their more lawfully minded and morally conventional elders.5

Granting “power to the people,” however, had its limits. It was not meant to apply to those among the hoi polloi who already had access to their own instruments of power. Both Lindsay administrations were marked by fierce confrontations with the city’s muscular labor movement. Protracted strikes involving transit and sanitation workers, public school teachers, and bridge tenders, among others, heightened the general sense that no one was in control. This was especially so during the mayor’s first administration, though less so during the second, by which time an uneasy peace prevailed. Lindsay’s liberalism accepted organized labor as a fact of modern life, but treated it with none of the sympathy it exhibited for the marginalized poor. Nor did it feel at home having to share power; it preferred to bestow it with all the sense of dependency and gratitude such a gift implicitly entailed.

If the workplace was in chronic turmoil, so were the neighborhoods, or rather those outer borough habitats of the ethnically diverse, white working and lower middle classes. Here the impact of the limousine liberal penchant for social engineering, especially over matters of racial integration, was profoundly disruptive. Here the distinctive character of this strange new elitism was strikingly apparent: it sought to overturn not defend the old order of things. Indeed, Time noted that the mayor was the “self-righteous, abrasive enemy of the way things are.”

Consequently, in the outer boroughs all the comforting familiarities of school, kinship, and residential customs were placed in jeopardy. Procaccino’s run for mayor in 1969 was preceded by years of protest that promised to transform the racial makeup of lower-middle-class and working class neighborhoods like Ridgewood in Queens or Canarsie in Brooklyn by desegregating schools and breaking up ethnic job monopolies run by various craft unions. Urban renewal projects subsidized by the state and local governments paid little attention to established neighborhood configurations of parks, schools, commercial thoroughfares, and residential arrangements. Countermobilizations by community groups resisted these attempts to undermine the status quo. Conservative politicians and intellectuals, including the indubitably elitist William Buckley (founder of the National Review and himself a onetime candidate for mayor), had begun drawing support early in the decade from white lower-middle-class precincts that had traditionally leaned Democratic. Here accountants and clerks and teachers and shopkeepers clung to their vulnerable achievements as upwardly mobile, second generation immigrants. Moreover, the precariousness of their everyday lives grew more worrisome as the economy faltered, unemployment rose, and stagflation threatened the well-being and aspirations of working people who already felt threatened.6

None of this registered in the land of limousine liberalism. What limousine liberals conveyed instead was disdain for the parochialism, prejudice, and uncouthness of a world they found alien and unattractive. This grand canyon of class and cultural division kept widening. Whitney Young of the National Urban League called the people who gathered around the Procaccino campaign “affluent peasants,” by which he meant they had some money but not much in the way of civilization. Lindsay’s hostility to labor union types—the Police Benevolent Association, for example—often seemed about his feeling ill at ease among the Irish and Italians who policed the streets, put out the fires, ran the subways, and picked up the garbage.7

Caricatures of Procaccino and his paesani showed up everywhere during the 1969 race. The New York Post (then a decidedly liberal newspaper) mocked him as a stereotypical “ward heeler, so much so that many who demand a degree of dignity in a public figure find it hard to take him seriously.” Reporters seemed obsessed with his “pencil thin mustache” (the telltale mark of an Italian wannabe). Time magazine ran a cover story that included a cartoon of the candidate leading an assault on the Bastille, which made sure to note the mustache plus his “electric blue suits and watermelon pink shirts.” And the magazine informed its readers that the world where it was all right to dress and shave like that could be found in “the dreary reaches of the boroughs.” A profile in The New Yorker, practically the house organ of limousine liberalism, derided the comptroller’s mustache, his speech, the vulgarity of his supporters, and the sweat that poured off him at campaign stops. And it got nastier than that. According to one paper, “If you put Mario Procaccino in a white apron he could be hawking mackerel at the Fulton Fish Market.” That market was widely thought of as Mafia controlled, which was the point, as was a comparison of the candidate’s apparel to “George Raft suits.”

Not so long before this these same white, lower class borough dwellers—Irish and Italian and German and even Jewish—modest in dress and demeanor, had been regarded as cultural heroes standing up to the fat cats, applauded for their everyman insouciance. Now they had become culturally disreputable, reactionary outlaws, decidedly unstylish in what they wore and drank and in how they played; they were looked on as lesser beings. Limousine liberalism in one scholar’s view had “hardened into an orthodoxy of the privileged classes.”

Mercilessly, the media took delight in Procaccino’s penchant for malapropisms. Perhaps his most painfully embarrassing one also revealed the social deafness of the new liberalism. It signaled as well that right-wing populists like Procaccino and politicians in other cities were prepared to give as good as they were receiving when it came to social putdowns. In front of an African American audience, the candidate declared that “my heart is as black as yours.” For some that was merely a lurid confirmation of his racism. (There is no evidence at all that he was a racist, and he had risen in rather ordinary fashion through the Democratic Party machine in the Bronx until elected comptroller.) Procaccino not only protested against being labeled a racist. He went on to explain what he was thinking: namely, that as the son of shoemaker from a small town near Naples in southern Italy, he was all too familiar with the insults and discriminations an Anglo elite could direct toward anyone of the “wrong” ethnic background or complexion. Living in a racial twilight zone, called “guinea” and “wop,” southern Italian immigrants were reminded again and again of their inferiority by Brahmin Americans like Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who at the turn of the century welcomed northern Italians, or what he called “Teutonic Italians,” because they were fair-skinned and industrious. But the senator had no use for “dark-skinned southerners,” who were in his view lazy, emotionally volatile, and criminally minded.8

“My heart is as black as yours” was a clumsy attempt to connect. It failed miserably among African Americans. But it resonated in many of the white ethnic communities of the city that chafed at the stereotypes used by their social superiors to denigrate them. Italians were fed up with being depicted as swarthy garbage men with plastic pink flamingoes on their lawns or as barbers with a Madonna on the dashboard and plastic slipcovers on the living room furniture. Procaccino’s campaign came to be defined largely by this class resentment.

Naturally he described himself as the “little guy for the little guy.” This had always been a standard trope in the American political lexicon. But his barbs could be much more pointed than that. Addressing a gathering of cab drivers, he promised that “the day is coming when the working people will run this city again,” alluding to the era of New Deal liberalism, which had won the hearts of working class New Yorkers. Now, however, this populist appeal emphasized the failure of governing elites to carry out their defining responsibility to ensure respect for law and the moral order. So the first item of business was to depose that peculiar new breed of liberal like Lindsay who was “a swinger in the city,” that is to say an upper class, sexual libertine at odds with the moral and religious convictions of working class New Yorkers. A Procaccino campaign memo recommended an attack on the owners of the city’s mainstream media, who were backing Lindsay because they were “rich super-assimilated people who live on Fifth Avenue and maintain some choice mansions outside the city and have no feeling for the small middle class shopkeeper, homeowner, etc. They preach the politics of confrontation and condone violent upheaval in society because they are not touched by it and are protected by their courtiers, doormen, and private police guards.” Pursuing that strategy, the candidate drew an indelible line between his workaday following and what he called “the Manhattan arrangement,” an alliance composed of intellectuals, editors, broadcasters, and big business. In addition to his frequent promises to re-establish “law and order,” the comptroller campaigned for what today we would call a “stock transfer tax” to help fund the city’s ballooning costs. Lindsay, the liberal with Wall Street connections, opposed it. A graduate of City College (and later Fordham Law School), Procaccino praised his alma mater, where he was president of the graduating class of 1935, and defended it against a plan to open up admissions (at all the city’s municipal colleges) to all city residents without recourse to qualifying exams and grades. Open admissions, Procaccino and the plan’s opponents claimed, would damage the integrity of an institution that for generations had functioned as the pathway to economic opportunity and social mobility for New York’s working classes. It was one vital arena where a subordinate class could stand up against the pretensions of its betters: “City College is what New York is all about. It always had more heart than Harvard. It has always been more real than Yale. It has always had more purpose than Princeton. That school is the soul of our city.” Inverting the scorn his enemies sent his way at every opportunity, Procaccino never tired of reminding people that “I am not one of the select few. I am not one of the Beautiful People.” Not shy about drawing cultural comparisons with Lindsay and his world, he vented feelings felt by many of his constituents: “Yes, we have different cultures; yes, we have different customs . . . we aren’t sick, we don’t have to be remade in Lindsay’s image.” On the contrary, Procaccino and his constituents were entirely ordinary people trying to get by: “I’ll tell you who the average man is. He’s the guy who works hard all day and maybe comes home at night too tired to move, but he has to moonlight anyway to pay his bills. . . . He doesn’t have a doorman. His kids go to public schools. He rides the subway and the buses. He never burned his draft card or a flag and he never will. He tries to play the game by the rules, and for all that he’s getting pushed into a corner. That’s who the average man is.”

All of this registered emotionally in the ethnic working and lower-middle-class enclaves outside of Manhattan. “The rich liberals, they look down on my little piece of the American dream, my little back yard with the barbeque here,” said one Procaccino supporter, voicing a widely shared sense of the way things had evolved under Lindsay. An ironworker told the journalist Pete Hamill, “What the hell does Lindsay care about me? . . . None of these politicians give a good goddamn. All they worry about is the niggers.” A Brooklyn storekeeper called out the social and cultural stupidity of the limousine liberal: “Lindsay doesn’t know what our life is like. Look at the WASP—what could he know?” At a campaign stop in a heavily Irish American neighborhood in Queens, hecklers called Lindsay a fake and a traitor and a communist. In Bay Ridge he was known as “Lefty Lindy,” a label that traveled into the German and Irish precincts of Ridgewood as well.

Lindsay won, barely. He picked up black and Latino votes that normally went Democratic, triumphed in white liberal Manhattan, and lost legions of Republicans in the other boroughs. That gave him a plurality in a three-man race. But his victory changed nothing; if anything the vitriol got worse. Just months after the November election hundreds of construction workers in lower Manhattan (some building the World Trade Center) rampaged through an anti–Vietnam War rally on Wall Street, violently dispersing the demonstrators. Similar “hard hat” rolling rallies continued over the next couple of weeks. And when the mayor ordered the flag at City Hall to fly at half-mast in memory of the students slain at Kent State, construction workers marched there to demand the flag be hoisted back up and carried placards reading “Bury the Red Mayor.” Others denounced Lindsay as a “faggot.”9

Faggot was a peculiarly telling epithet. It signaled just how profound the estrangement had become. More than economic power and privilege was at stake. This was also a war against cultural imperialism. Bedrock beliefs about masculinity, the family, sexual behavior, religious conviction, and moral integrity were under siege, along with the dignity of hard work and an equally hard-won sense of social accomplishment. Faggot and nigger rose out of these depths to the surface of public debate to capture the existential danger represented by limousine liberalism.

Lindsay was the enemy not merely because he hailed from the upper classes and was clueless if not hostile when it came to sympathizing with the plight of working people. That was elite politics as usual. Lindsay and his ilk were different. Unlike their predecessors, who defended the old order of things against insurgencies from below, limousine liberals incited rebellion, wanted to overturn the racial status quo; they were ready to jettison traditional rules governing the family such as how women were to behave and the way children were to be raised; for them conventional sexual relations were boring and inhibiting; pious on public occasions that demanded it, they were committed secularists who turned to the social sciences, not scripture, for guidance in resolving social dilemmas. They were immoralists—hence “faggots”—and also moral tyrants eager to impose their own self-righteous preferences on others.

John Lindsay enjoys the dubious distinction of being the first to bear the stigma that would facilitate the decline of liberalism for the rest of the twentieth century and that continues to shadow it today. His “victory” in 1969 was also a reveille for the massing of a right-wing populism that would transform American politics over the next half century and turn limousine liberals into an endangered species. However, Lindsay was far from the first elitist to be pilloried in this peculiar way—that is, as someone who by all rights ought to have spent his legacy defending the status quo but who instead chose to subvert it. The political anxieties, social suspicions, and moral disquiet that ultimately produced Mario Procaccino’s inspired aperçu were already simmering at the surface of public life when his father was still cobbling shoes outside Naples at the turn of the twentieth century.


  • "An incisive history of a right-wing metaphor and its effects."—New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
  • "[Fraser] writes wonderfully, and his text is studded with insights...[he] has produced a timely tour de force to remind us that limousine liberals are still very much with us--as are the politicians and pundits who portray them as such bogeymen."—Wall Street Journal
  • "As the historian Steve Fraser demonstrates in his wide-ranging new book, the idea of the 'limousine liberal' has a long and messy history all its own."—New York Times Book Review
  • "Fraser provides a brisk and entertaining history of limousine liberalism in all its linguistic manifestations, and his book is worth reading for that alone."—New Republic
  • "Popular history is littered with the corpses of bloated books, written where an essay would have sufficed. Not The Limousine Liberal. There is some wrinkle on every page, and it is essential to anybody, especially those on the left, who does not understand how the populist energies they believe are rightfully theirs have been so completely captured by bigots and strivers."—
  • "This brilliant and mordant book is a useful guide to a much reviled native species, and given the state of today's Democratic Party, its appearance could not be more timely. The author recognizes that there really are limousine liberals--though lately we seem to be paying a lot more attention to a limousine populist--but his larger interest is in demonstrating how rabble rousers for much of our history have used the concept to incite the working classes against progressive change. They did this even before Mario Procaccino coined the term in his unsuccessful 1969 campaign to become mayor of New York City. Fraser is a nimble writer and thinker in whose company there's never a dull or uninformative moment."—Newsday
  • "A bracing and extremely timely exploration of the roots of right-wing populism, especially relevant in the glare of Donald Trump's unexpected rise."—Booklist
  • "[A] rich, incisive book...Fraser conveys the ferocity of America's culture wars in his sharp observations, which often cut uncomfortably close to the bone."—Kirkus
  • "This lucid, often entertaining, genealogy of right-wing populism is necessary background reading for anyone seeking to understand--or just endure--2016."—Barbara Ehrenreich, bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed
  • "Steve Fraser has produced a fascinating history of the ways liberal elites have been demonized by conservatives seeking to make inroads among white working class voters. Fraser's book is crucial to understanding a dominant theme in American politics that has shaped the conservative movement and has most recently fueled the campaign tactics of Donald Trump."—Thomas Edsall, Columnist, New York Times
  • "Steve Fraser's The Limousine Liberal is a bracing and illuminating history of right-wing populism in modern America. With fascinating detail and vigorous prose, Fraser deftly shows how class became the dirty little secret of American politics, and how billionaires in work boots have helped to keep it that way. This book is essential reading for anyone who is impatient with the triviality of contemporary public discourse, and who hopes--against all the odds--to revive it."—Jackson Lears, author of Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920
  • "Steve Fraser's The Limousine Liberal is a brilliant analysis of how elites, using both parties, have stunted the kind of real economic democracy and broad prosperity that America needs."—Robert Kuttner, Co-Editor, The American Prospect; Professor, Brandeis University
  • "Steve Fraser's writing blends the depth and complexity of a scholar, the lively prose of a journalist, and the moral seriousness of a critic. The Limousine Liberal is a penetrating analysis of the resentments aroused by the efforts of affluent liberals to help the disadvantaged, sometimes at the expense of those in the middle. As Fraser brilliantly demonstrates, the resulting ideological backlash explains a great deal about the sorry state of contemporary American politics."—George Scialabba, author of What Are Intellectuals Good For? and For the Republic

On Sale
May 10, 2016
Page Count
304 pages
Basic Books

Steve Fraser

About the Author

Steve Fraser is the author of Every Man a Speculator and Wall Street, among other books, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and The Nation. He lives in New York City.

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