Do you remember how liberalism used to be idealistic and ambitious, taking on big problems with boldness and confidence? Liberal presidents were always proposing vast new programs to solve our social ills: the New Frontier, the Great Society, the War on Poverty. Now, points out Michael Gerson, liberals seem bereft of new ideas and new programs. They are simply trying desperately to hold onto the old programs, oblivious to their problems. And instead of idealism, all they have is anger. Read Gerson’s whole column, linked below. An excerpt:
The Obama agenda also reflects a broader shift in American liberalism, which has become reactive. Liberals often defend unreformed, unsustainable health entitlements — even though these commitments place increasing burdens on the young to benefit those who are older and better off. They often defend the unrestricted right to abortion — even though it represents a contraction of the circle of social inclusion and protection. They often defend the educational status quo — even though it is one of the nation’s main sources of racial and economic injustice.
Others have termed this “reactionary liberalism.” It is more the protection of accumulated interests than the application of creative reform to new problems. In the place of idealism, there is often anger. When Obama failed in his first debate, liberals were generally not critical that he lacked idealism. They were angry that he wasn’t sufficiently angry.