New Liberalism

I have been a lifelong reader of The New Yorker. The magazine has changed so much since I began reading it, but I still go carefully through each issue. It plays an important part in my reading life. See the first essay at http://www.the-essayist.com/literary.

I don't save each issue any more but I have kept the November 17, 2008 issue that is a celebration and analysis of the election of Barack Obama and what it might mean for this once powerful nation. The essay The New Liberalism by George Packer was among the most memorable pieces in the issue.

As the New Year begins and as so many individuals are optimistic about the changes it will bring, I thought I would cite a few of the passages from Packer’s piece that lays out his own and others perspective on the years ahead.

The Journal's [Wall Street Journal] nightmare scenario of America under President Obama and a Democratic Congress included health care for all, a green revolution, expanded voting rights, due process for terror suspects, more powerful unions, financial regulation, and a shift of the tax burden upward.

The phrase...deliberative democracy appears in The Audacity of Hope, where it denotes a conversation among adults who listen to one another, who attempt to persuade one another by means of argument and evidence, and who remain open to the possibility that they could be wrong.

In Kuttner's [Robert Kuttner] view, nothing short of a return to New Deal-style government intervention will be enough to prevent the dire economy from Dooming Obama's Presidency.

"All our great Presidents were leaders of thought at times when certain historic ideas in the life of the nation had to be clarified." Franklin Roosevelt

...a liberal "works to control the processes of change, to the end that the break with the old pattern may not be too violent." Franklin Roosevelt

"Obama will need to be a more radical president than he was a presidential candidate." Robert Kuttner

"...deep cynicism in the public about the capacity of government to do anything big and well." Robert Reich

The new era that is about to begin under President Obama will be more about public good than about private goods. The meal will be smaller, and have less interesting flavors, but it will be shared more fairly. The great American improvisation called democracy still bends along the curve of history. It has not yet finished astounding the world.