Left Behind: The Democrats Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality Audiobook, by Lily Geismer Play Audiobook Sample

Left Behind: The Democrats' Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality Audiobook

Left Behind: The Democrats Failed Attempt to Solve Inequality Audiobook, by Lily Geismer Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Christine Lakin Publisher: PublicAffairs Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 8.67 hours at 1.5x Speed 6.50 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: March 2022 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781549166877

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

83:05 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

38 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

55:21 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Publisher Description

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.

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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 


  • “A wonderfully detailed history of a now-extinct faith.”

    — New York Times Book Review
  • “Geismer’s impressive, readable new book on the history of the New Democrats.”

    — Washington Montly
  • Left Behind lucidly conveys how the Clintonian ‘New Democrats’ of the 1990s looked to beat Republicans with market-based policies, but in the end contributed to traumatic losses for all too many and a steep decline in public trust. The struggle underway for the soul of the Democratic Party seems all the more urgent in light of this bracing reassessment.

    — Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains and finalist for the National Book Award
  • Left Behind is a powerful critique of a technocratic, market-driven approach to government that has never lived up to its promise. Geismer shows in painful detail how the Democratic Party of the recent past could have helped the poor—but chose not to fight for them. This is not just history—it’s a map that takes us, inexorably, to the mess we’re still in.

    — Stephanie Kelton, New York Times–bestselling author of The Deficit Myth
  • Tremendous. This book shows how the ideas of the Clinton-era Democrats emerged historically, setting them up for a clear and convincing debunking. We’re along for the ride with these characters as they become enamored of horrible ideas, with disastrous consequences. This book is an absolute must-read, especially for those who think they already know this story.

    — Chenjerai Kumanyika, assistant professor at Rutgers and cohost of the podcast Uncivil
  • 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


  • A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice of the Week

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About Christine Lakin

Christine Lakin is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and acclaimed television actress, best known for her roles as Alicia “Al” Lambert on the hit family comedy Step by Step and as Joan of Arc on Showtime’s Reefer Madness.