Can Liberalism Change? ^ | Carson Holloway

Can Liberalism Change? ^ | Carson Holloway

Posted on 1/13/2018, 10:33:40 AM by RoosterRedux

It is true that Trump did not win the popular vote. Nevertheless, his victory depended on, and demonstrated, a significant shift in public opinion in a set of electorally decisive states—big states, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan—that had been reliably Democratic for decades. Besides, Trump got kneecapped, too—not on a single day by the FBI director, but every day for fifteen months by the entire national media establishment. It is very possible that Trump’s positions—on trade, immigration, and foreign policy—are far more popular than he is personally.

The Toxin of Identity Politics

Enter Mark Lilla, Professor of Humanities at Columbia University and well-known public essayist. Lilla is as astute, erudite, and reflective a liberal as America today can boast. In his new book, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics, he offers a sympathetic critique of what American liberalism has become in recent decades. According to Lilla, the disastrous (for liberals) 2016 election was not simply a fluke but instead at least partly the result of certain defects in contemporary liberalism that must be corrected if it is to hope to govern the country again.

The key problem, according to Lilla, is modern liberalism’s embrace of identity politics, which involves serious political disadvantages both tactical and strategic, or of both style and substance. At the level of tactics or style, identity politics fosters a spirit that is insular and irritable, preachy and off-putting. Its character is exemplified in the “social justice warrior” who loves moral purity and disdains compromise. This approach either ignores (at best) or insults (at worst) those who do not hold one of the preferred identities that contemporary liberalism thinks are its job to protect and exalt, with the result that many voters are driven away who would be necessary to any workable liberal governing coalition.

(Excerpt)

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