Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, August 11, 2017

Donald Trump's surprise victory in last year's presidential election has finally energized my fellow liberals, who are networking, marching and showing up at town-hall meetings across the country. There is excited talk about winning back the White House in 2020 and maybe even the House of Representatives in the interim.

But we are way ahead of ourselves -- dangerously so. For a start, the presidency just isn't what it used to be, certainly not for Democrats. In the last generation, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the office with comfortable margins, but they were repeatedly stymied by assertive Republicans in Congress, a right-leaning Supreme Court and -- what should be the most worrisome development for Democrats -- a steadily growing majority of state governments in Republican hands.

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What's more, nothing those presidents did while in office did much to reverse the rightward drift of American public opinion. Even when they vote for Democrats or support some of their policies, most Americans -- including young people, women and minorities -- reject the term "liberal." And it isn't hard to see why. They see us as aloof, elitist, out of touch.

It is time to admit that American liberalism is in deep crisis: a crisis of imagination and ambition on our side, a crisis of attachment and trust on the side of the wider public.

Ronald Reagan almost single-handedly destroyed the New Deal vision of America that used to guide us. To meet the Reagan challenge, we liberals needed to develop an ambitious new vision of America and its future that would again inspire people of every walk of life and in every region of the country to come together as citizens. Instead we got tangled up in the divisive, zero-sum world of identity politics, losing a sense of what binds us together as a nation. What went missing in the Reagan years was the great liberal-democratic We.

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This article is a must read written by a Columbia University Humanities Professor, Mark Lilla. It's long, but really analyzes the core issues facing American liberalism and how we got to this point.

#1 | Posted by leftcoastlawyer at 2017-08-11 08:00 PM | Reply

Sorry, I can't read it without subscribing.

#2 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2017-08-12 12:14 AM | Reply

Try it through this link at RCP: Real Clear Politics: The Liberal Crack Up, click through their link, it may work.

#3 | Posted by leftcoastlawyer at 2017-08-12 02:12 PM | Reply

What struck me was the analysis of how liberalism has morphed over the past few decades:

There is a mystery at the core of every suicide, and the story of how a once-successful liberal politics of solidarity became a failed liberal politics of "difference" is not a simple one. Perhaps the best place to begin it is with a slogan: The personal is the political.

This phrase was coined by feminists in the 1960s and captured perfectly the mind-set of the New Left at the time. Originally, it was interpreted to mean that everything that seems strictly private -- sexuality, the family, the workplace -- is in fact political and that there are no spheres of life exempt from the struggle for power. That is what made it so radical, electrifying sympathizers and disturbing everyone else.

But the phrase could also be taken in a more romantic sense: that what we think of as political action is in fact nothing but personal activity, an expression of me and how I define myself. As we would put it today, my political life is a reflection of my identity.

Over time, the romantic view won out over the radical one, and the idea got rooted on the left that, to reverse the formula, the political is the personal. Liberals and progressives continued to fight for social justice out in the world. But now they also wanted there to be no space between what they felt inside and what they did in that world. They wanted their political engagements to mirror how they understood and defined themselves as individuals. And they wanted their self-definition to be recognized.

This was an innovation on the left. Socialism had no time for individual recognition. Rushing toward the revolution, it divided the world into exploiting capitalists and exploited workers of every background. New Deal liberals were just as indifferent to individual identity; they thought and spoke in terms of equal rights and equal social protections for all. Even the early movements of the 1950s and '60s to secure the rights of African-Americans, women and gays appealed to our shared humanity and citizenship, not our differences. They drew people together rather than setting them against each other.

All that began to change when the New Left shattered in the 1970s, in no small part due to identity issues. Blacks complained that white movement leaders were racist, feminists complained that they were sexist, and lesbians complained that straight feminists were homophobic. The main enemies were no longer capitalism and the military-industrial complex; they were fellow movement members who were not, as we would say today, sufficiently "woke."

#4 | Posted by leftcoastlawyer at 2017-08-12 02:21 PM | Reply

This was also interesting, since it was written by a well respected Columbia Professor:

As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate.

Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: Speaking as an X ... This is not an anodyne phrase. It sets up a wall against any questions that come from a non-X perspective. Classroom conversations that once might have begun, I think A, and here is my argument, now take the form, Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. What replaces argument, then, are taboos against unfamiliar ideas and contrary opinions.

Conservatives complain loudest about today's campus follies, but it is really liberals who should be angry. The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads.

There is a great irony in this. The supposedly bland, conventional universities of the 1950s and early '60s incubated the most radical generation of American citizens perhaps since our founding. Young people were incensed by the denial of voting rights out there, the Vietnam War out there, nuclear proliferation out there, capitalism out there, colonialism out there. Yet once that generation took power in the universities, it proceeded to depoliticize the liberal elite, rendering its members unprepared to think about the common good and what must be done practically to secure it -- especially the hard and unglamorous task of persuading people very different from themselves to join a common effort.

Every advance of liberal identity consciousness has marked a retreat of liberal political consciousness. There can be no liberal politics without a sense of We -- of what we are as citizens and what we owe each other. If liberals hope ever to recapture America's imagination and become a dominant force across the country, it will not be enough to beat the Republicans at flattering the vanity of the mythical Joe Sixpack. They must offer a vision of our common destiny based on one thing that all Americans, of every background, share.

And that is citizenship. We must relearn how to speak to citizens as citizens and to frame our appeals for solidarity -- including ones to benefit particular groups -- in terms of principles that everyone can affirm.

#5 | Posted by leftcoastlawyer at 2017-08-12 02:33 PM | Reply

"Speaking as an X ... This is not an anodyne phrase. It sets up a wall against any questions that come from a non-X perspective."

Everyone does that, here are three common examples:

As a Christian.
As a taxpayer.
As an American

#6 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-08-12 03:56 PM | Reply

Instead we got tangled up in the divisive, zero-sum world of identity politics, losing a sense of what binds us together as a nation.

This phrase sums it all up.

The left has always been a party and ideology of separation. Separation of the races, separation of classes, separation of everything. And puts us into tribes and closer to those who feel like us.

#7 | Posted by boaz at 2017-08-12 04:57 PM | Reply

"Separation of the races, separation of classes, separation of everything"

Sure. The left wanted segregation. The left wants to separate trannys from the military.
Keep up the good work, Boaz!

#8 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-08-12 05:18 PM | Reply

#6

You are exactly right, and the point is that there needs to be more "We" and less "Me."

#9 | Posted by leftcoastlawyer at 2017-08-12 08:30 PM | Reply

#7

Come on Boaz, you know better than that. Class/race divisions are a fact, and yes, both the left and the right play that game to get what they want. The right does it because it is a convenient scapegoat for when things go wrong and the left does it to vilify the right and garner support for their social agenda.

The point here is that both sides need to stop doing it and try to find a unified solution. I think we have come far enough to at have that conversation, don't you?

#10 | Posted by leftcoastlawyer at 2017-08-12 08:34 PM | Reply

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"Conservatives complain loudest about today's campus follies, but it is really liberals who should be angry. The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads."

Hmm. Interesting point. I never thought about identity politics that way before.
Good article.

#11 | Posted by WhiteDevil at 2017-08-12 08:50 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

One problem with the piece, though, is that he doesn't suggest anything tangible. It's one thing to say you need a message that resonates for all Americans, so why not tell us what you think it is? And just how did Reagan destroy the New Deal vision of America? Social Security is still there. Medicare. He didn't shut down a single government agency. Looks good on paper to help him make his point, but doesn't survive scrutiny. Reagan said he was a New Deal Democrat, and that the Democrats left him. Americans in 49 states felt the same way. Maybe Reagan should have been an example of what the author is complaining about, instead of someone to get Democrats to rally against.

#12 | Posted by WhiteDevil at 2017-08-12 08:57 PM | Reply

It's happening right now in Charlottesville. Trump is saying we must all stand united as one and reject hate, which condemns both AntiFa and the KKK, while the left is in a fury that he condemn only the Klan.

I think both groups are racist, and here's why: www.washingtontimes.com

#13 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2017-08-13 06:11 AM | Reply

"It's happening right now in Charlottesville. Trump is saying we must all stand united as one and reject hate, which condemns both AntiFa and the KKK, while the left is in a fury that he condemn only the Klan."

Most of what your'e describing is just free speech.

Most people think it's kind of strange Trump didn't specifically call out the hate group that also drove a car into a bunch of people leading to death and injury.

Don't they deserve some kind of honorable mention, for going beyond hateful words into hateful action?

Had that not happened, there really wouldn't be anything for Trump to comment on. Just another day in the South; with a bunch of racists marching, and a bunch of sensible people protesting them.

#14 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-08-13 08:20 AM | Reply

#14 "Most people think it's kind of strange Trump didn't specifically call out the hate group that also drove a car into a bunch of people leading to death and injury."

Actually, the whole thing was making news before the car incident. Because this kind of campus dust-up is sort of rare, and typically planned weeks or months in advance.

It's not conservative style to call out specific groups of voters, but yeah, he should have tossed liberals a bone and condemned both the Klan and AntiFa.

A good leader could have hit both ways.

#15 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2017-08-13 08:34 AM | Reply

You keep trying to equate non-violence with violence.
Why?

#16 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-08-13 08:37 AM | Reply

"Actually, the whole thing was making news before the car incident."

But it didn't achieve the threshold of things the President ought to comment on until bodies started hitting the ground.

In fact, it's the bodies hitting the ground that Trump is supposed to comment on, something he still hasn't done.

#17 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-08-13 08:40 AM | Reply

"It's not conservative style to call out specific groups of voters, but yeah, he should have tossed liberals a bone and condemned both the Klan and AntiFa."

That's exactly what he should not have done. Insincerely tossing liberals a bone is what the alt-right would expect of him and would take it as a wink and a nod. He should have condemned the alt-right haters and meant it. Throwing out a little bit of lip service here and there is exactly why no one believes he gives a crap now.

#18 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-08-13 08:40 AM | Reply

"Law and Order" requires cracking some Nazi and AntiFa skull. I guess he should have realized that.

Or maybe he's just trying to calm the situation? They called in the National Guard for these yahoos.

#19 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2017-08-13 08:45 AM | Reply

"he should have tossed liberals a bone"

The idea that he should toss liberals a bone is also insulting to those conservatives who don't want their side of the aisle associated with the alt--right. You know, the non-deplorables in the Republican party who have come out and condemned White Supremacist and Nazis.

#20 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-08-13 08:58 AM | Reply

"...the non-deplorables in the Republican party who have come out and condemned White Supremacist and Nazis."

Both of them?

#21 | Posted by Danforth at 2017-08-13 08:59 AM | Reply | Funny: 1

Trump isn't worth the benefit of the doubt. His track record for honesty is near zero. Anyone fooled by him at this point wants to be fooled by him.

#22 | Posted by madscientist at 2017-08-13 09:10 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"Berkeley protesters form human chain to stop white students from getting to class"

That kind of protest, seen as street theater, could be educational for all sides if it went further. Like someone who wears a fat suit to see how it feels like to go throough life being overweight, blocking white students from passing could be a way of seeing how it feels to go through life being discriminated against. If the demonstration wasn't an end in itself but a means to a greater end: a community discussion on racism and the use of power and how it feels to be excluded. Not just how did the white students feel being excluded but how did the black students feel exerting their power? Probably felt pretty good to most of them, but wasn't there anyone there who was self-reflective enough to recognize two wrongs don't make a right?

#23 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-08-13 09:20 AM | Reply

You are exactly right, and the point is that there needs to be more "We" and less "Me."

#9 | POSTED BY LEFTCOASTLAWYER

Nazi's and the KKK are not interested in WE.

They are only interested in white supremacy.

There is no middle ground for them.

Time to wake up people. Charlottesville was only the beginning for these People. They are planning to do this again and again until it explodes in a full fledged race war. They are just itching for a race war.

#24 | Posted by donnerboy at 2017-08-13 11:18 AM | Reply

And Trump is not interested in WE either.

He only caters to his deplorable base. He has not once reached out to the Democrats. He is not interested in uniting this country unless it is under the banner of hate.

Make America Hate Again

#25 | Posted by donnerboy at 2017-08-13 11:21 AM | Reply

blocking white students from passing could be a way of seeing

Sometimes, folks just want to get to class on time...

#26 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2017-08-13 05:56 PM | Reply

#24-25

No offense Donner, but I am guessing that you posted this on the wrong thread, since this is only about fixing American Liberalism and has nothing to do with Trump and his deplorable base.

#27 | Posted by leftcoastlawyer at 2017-08-13 07:34 PM | Reply

Don't they deserve some kind of honorable mention, for going beyond hateful words into hateful action?

Do any liberals mention BLM when "protestors" start burning businesses?

#28 | Posted by boaz at 2017-08-13 07:49 PM | Reply

Do conservatives mention the KKK when "someone" drives a car into a group of KKK protesters?

#29 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-08-13 08:04 PM | Reply

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