Friday, June 08, 2007


The Coming Liberal Crack-Up

I disagree with Atrios about the agreement on the left, with disagreement over priorities. I'm a huge fan of Atrios and the like, but I am almost certainly further to the right than most liberal bloggers.

It's easy for the left-most 70 percent of the population to be in agreement right now. The most important issues are curtailing government the catastrophic war in Iraq, the abuses of constitutional rights, and a delusional foreign policy.

When I was in college, an expert on Indonesia came and spoke to our class. He spoke highly of Megawati Sukarnoputri, but with few specifics. I asked him about her, and his, vagueness, and he gave an insightful, wry response. "That's like the questions I get from Western journalists," he said. "'Well, what's her position on the middle-class tax cut, and partial-birth abortion?' But she stands for the rule of law. And that's what's important right now."

That's how I read things today. When the time comes to make policy, not just resist excesses, we're going to get a little more fractious.

Elvis, nice blog-- I came over here after seeing your comments at Balkinization. As for the substance of your post, I agree that once something like "normal" politics resumes, substantive divisions on policy questions will become increasingly evident on the left. It might be less extreme than the fracturing on the right that Bush has brought about, but I think it will happen.

I think Greenwald and others who have hypothesized a retrenchment of ideological axes are right. Bush has managed to move the debate away from the axes that have divided left and right since, say, the new deal (the role of the welfare state, how to construe public morality, etc.). I wonder whether Bush is a symptom of an enduring transformation in the ideological landscape, though, or whether he's just a passing event. Hard to tell at the moment, IMHO.
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