Allan Powell: Can liberal politics become attractive? | Guest Editorials

On Aug. 20, Fareed Zakaria, host of “Global Public Square” on CNN, recommended his pick for the book of the week as “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.” Since I wanted an up-to-date definition of liberalism, I bought a copy of the book by Mark Lilla, professor of humanities at Columbia University.

In a nutshell, liberalism has not become a majority opinion of our voters.

Lilla begins by pointing out that liberals have become America’s ideological third party behind independents and conservatives. More seriously, “American liberalism in the twenty-first century is in crisis: a crisis of imagination and ambition on our side, a crisis of attachment and trust on the side of the wider public.”

It is sad to read how low American liberalism is when Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, “Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.”

Liberals are completely lacking in public sentiment.

Lilla suggests that, “American political history over the past century can be usefully divided into two ‘dispensations,’ to invoke the Christian theological term. The first, the Roosevelt Dispensation, stretched from the era of the New Deal to the era of the civil rights movement and the Great Society in the 1960s, and then exhausted itself in the 1970s. The second, the Reagan Dispensation, began in 1980 and is now being brought to a close by an opportunistic, unprincipled populist.”

The unsavory character just mentioned is Donald Trump, who apparently doesn’t fit into any political class listed.

When we take a look at a formal definition of the word liberalism and find “pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform or pertaining…

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