Thursday, April 8, 2021

How Can We Build a New Liberal Narrative?

Peter Juul and Brian Katulis tackle this hugely important question at The Liberal Patriot.
"As we’ve written before here at The Liberal Patriot, the center-left needs a new intellectual infrastructure to better disseminate its core principles and resist illiberal politics from all quarters. An important part of that effort involves building new sources of support that can yoke practical policies to broader principles. In other words, liberals need a new set of institutions, programs, and individuals that can tell a compelling story about their principles, politics, and policies.
Right now, however, this narrative infrastructure doesn’t exist – and it shows. The Biden administration has gotten off to a strong start on a number of fronts, from pandemic relief and economic rebuilding to pragmatic foreign policy decisions. But it’s struggled to tie its actions together in a coherent story that it can tell the American people and the world....
This lack of a convincing center-left story results from a variety of causes, but it’s fundamentally rooted in the much broader collapse of liberal intellectual infrastructure in recent decades.
This collapse has 4 components:
1. Outsourcing narrative-building to academics, activists, and political journalists.
After the tumult of the 1960s, liberals in and around the Democratic Party outsourced the vital task of narrative-building to a random assortment of activists, academics, and political journalists. Anti-war activists, for instance, issue empty calls to “end endless wars,” while unpopular and unwise proposals to defund the police originated with small, unrepresentative far-left activist groups. When these parties are interested in constructing narratives, they’re likely to tell bleak and pessimistic stories about America itself – such as the factually-challenged 1619 Project published and heavily promoted by the New York Times. For their part, many politically-minded academics have spent the past many decades conjuring up what the late philosopher Richard Rorty called “dreams not of political reforms but of inexplicable, magical transformations” of a fundamentally corrupt society in thrall to mystical “preternatural forces.” To be clear, voices from a diverse range of experts and activists should be part of the mix when it comes to building an inclusive nationalism. But to succeed in building a narrative, the North Star should be about painting a hopeful vision of the future, rather than getting stuck in the current moment or wallowing in the past."
Plus they cover three more:
2. Positioning through polling rather than staking out clear positions based on ideas and values linked to a story
3. The rise of the technocratic and bureaucratic wonks.
4. The quest for echo chambers.
Read it all at The Liberal Patriot!

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