Thomas Frank contends that so-called "backlash politics" do not arise from racism. He states that blaming racism for white voting patterns involves "daft theories about 'crypto-racism'" (page 170). Frank believes that areas of the U.S. such as Kansas do engage in voting patterns that are opposed to their own self-interest but that they don't do so because they are racist.
However, Haney Lopez disagrees with Frank "because he [Frank] fatally misses how quickly and dramatically racism has evolved" (page 170). Frank views racism as involving overt statements about white supremacy, but, as Haney Lopez says, modern racism is more subtle. The author believes that "race contributes to broad-based support for regressive policies that wreck the middle class" (page 170). Haney Lopez believes that white voters are swayed by what he calls "racial commonsense," including their belief that they will benefit from the social status of being white. In addition, whites increasingly define their status by how much they have to associate with minorities. As the author writes, "while race previously obscured class divisions among white people, it now came to exaggerate[s] them" (page 172). Therefore, unlike Frank, the author feels that racism explains a great deal of working class whites' endorsement of what he feels are regressive policies.