Monday, February 7, 2022

The Silent Liberal Majority?

It's out there but it desperately needs a leader. So far, Joe Biden ain't been it. That's a problem as astutely pointed out by the Financial Times in a blistering editorial. If only the US prestige press could do as well.
"The number of Democrats who really want a cultural revolution is small. Those who lack the stomach to confront the zealots are legion. They have spent much of the past two years, for instance, pretending that Defund the Police means something else.
This ducking of the issue has a price....A president cannot and should not micromanage local policing and schooling, much less the private decisions of “woke” business. What he can do is state his own liberal-but-not-radical position in the cultural struggles of the day, as did former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at various times.
[Bill] Maher is not the only American who subscribes to liberalism in its old sense while balking at group rights, equivocation over crime (many of whose victims are poor minorities) and the minefield of modern speech. It is not as though Biden need turn into J Edgar Hoover to win these voters over. And if and when they are reassured, the Republicans’ own capacity for cultural over-reach, perhaps in the form of judicial rulings on abortion and other issues this year, will stand out.
At the moment, Biden is relying on his bona fides to get him through. He has spent much of his career at the conservative end of his party. He is a Catholic who came of age before the Permissive Society of the 1960s. If anything, the worry upon his third bid for the White House was that the author of hardline criminal justice laws was too draconian and old-fashioned for modern America.
Perhaps to compensate for that past, however, he has been nervous to shout down the strident voices to his left. He is caught between strict liberals and the kind of progressives for whom liberalism is a polite cover for all kinds of structural inequities. Refusing to pick a side is a good way to maintain the uneasy peace within the Democratic party. Unfortunately, it is also a good way of arousing the mistrust of large parts of the country."
Just so. And so there we are.

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