“I think that something happened--since the 70s-- in the liberal mindset. Conservatives are able to make a full-throated defense of their views on purely normative terms. I don't believe in the conflation of markets and freedom, but I fully understand how someone could.
“Liberals don't defend liberalism any more, as a world view: they defend policies. And if, in defending policies, they undermine liberalism, they seem to be able to live with that.
“I don't know if this is true, but I suspect that if the Health Care Reform Act was sold only as a way of guaranteeing closer-to-universal access to health care, it would have done much better in the political sphere. But the variety of arguments offered in support of the bill included: access, cost containment, insurance company regulation, etc.
“The truly great liberal politicians built policies that were simple in concept, and culturally attuned for resonance: the Social Security Act, WPA, moon shot, civil rights. Today's Democrats build camels: jerry-rigged crap collections with a thousand superfluous features thrown in; each designed to appease a particular constituency.
“This may be good short-term politics, but I think it has killed the liberal 'brand.' My sympathies are much more aligned with liberal goals than conservative ones; nevertheless, it seems like conservatives have the heat, the moral fervor, and ethical conviction that people want to see in their politics.
“In the mid-80s, partly in response to Reagan, a 'neo-liberal' movement was nurtured, encouraging a wonkier, more market-oriented, "centrist" approach to politics. I was one of them. But in retrospect, I think that we have harmed, more than helped, liberal goals in America.”
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Defending Liberalism vs. Defending Liberal Policies
In response to this post, reader Scrooge McDuck writes (my emphasis):