The travesty of liberalism

by Henry on March 21, 2018

More in the suddenly topical vein of ‘who will rid us of those troublesome leftists’ from Sean Wilentz. For Chait, the problem is “It’s obvious to me why conservatives want everybody who’s alienated by the callout culture to self-identify as a conservative. It’s less obvious to me why liberals should also want that.” For Wilentz:

These shifts and attempted shifts in vocabulary are not of passing or merely semantic significance. Insisting upon the proper meanings of terms is not divisive or sectarian bickering. The words at stake embody different worldviews. To merge basic concepts that are plainly distinct, such as socialism and New Deal liberalism, is not a useful step toward clarifying our politics. It is, however, a Republican fantasy.

Hence, Wilentz’s proposed way forward:

It may be that the future of the Democratic Party will be determined by the extent to which men and women to the left of the right learn to appreciate the differences between liberal and progressive—and, as an important first step, to appreciate the difference between liberalism and the progressive travesty of liberalism.

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