The eulogy for economic-based liberalism?

Interesting interview in which Eric Alterman points out that cultural liberalism is flourishing – but the idea of using the government to intercede in the economy on behalf of people who need protection is on the ropes. Via Raw Story:

Writer and historian Eric Alterman appeared on the April 20 edition of “Moyers and Company” to discuss his new book The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama.

In a wide-ranging and thoughtful discussion, Alterman makes the case to Bill Moyers that while social liberalism is flourishing, economic liberalism has fallen on hard times. The majority of people in the United States believe that racism is wrong. Acceptance of the idea of same-sex marriage has charged ahead with surprising speed. And yet, only a tiny minority of people in the country self-identify as “liberal.”

Alterman believes that liberals in the U.S. have “overpromised and underperformed,” and ultimately become victims of their own belief in the rectitude of their ideas. Of course racism is wrong, says Alterman, but what are we going to do if the dismantling of a racist system doesn’t go as planned?

He believes that liberals need to go on the offensive and learn to be cannier and more flexible in selling their message and implementing their ideas. Just because it’s right, he maintains, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work.

5 thoughts on “The eulogy for economic-based liberalism?

  1. Alterman’s always interesting, and Moyers’s gentle probing really got him thinking and rethinking his own theses.

    The next part of the show, with Douthat, was even more fun. Moyers demonstrated his soft critique to great advantage, demolishing Douthat’s “the exreme right and the extreme left are just the same” bullshit. Ever so gradually it became obvious that Douthat’s core thesis is built on faulty and superficial historical understanding and perspective.

    Bill Moyers is a national treasure. Like C&L, Greenwald, FDL, et al, he eviscerates advocates for .01%, eternal war, social Darwinism, torture, and fascism. But always with a velvet glove.

  2. Has there ever been a liberal president? Ever? Has the House and or the Senate ever taken a pronounced liberal bent in any of the legislation that it passed? Ever? Don’t give the example of the “Great Society” legislation which lifted the poor, gave women and blacks limited civil rights, etc. Because Johnson conducted an illegal war at the same time and he was followed into office by the Dark Age of Nixon. Moyers is OK. But he’s an establishment 1%er just like all of the people that he interviews. Meaning we will only get a stilted and priggish discussion from Moyers and his performers. Should be taken with a big fat grain of salt.

  3. Straw man. Perfectly liberal or progressive President? No. But unquestionably there have been liberal policies and programs implemented and/or expanded. Some with Republican support. Medicaid and Medicare. War on Poverty. The great expansion of environmental legislation. Opening with China.

    You seem to be saying that the “Great Society” legislation was not liberal because we were involved in a misguided (according to McNamara and Fonda) war in Viet Nam at the same time. I don’t follow your reasoning.

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