Saturday, March 5, 2005
Three liberal magazines assess Democratic options.
In a brief, fairly informal discussion of the future of liberal politics and the Democratic Party in tomorrow's New York Times Book Review, the editors of The New Republic, The Nation, and The American Prospect succinctly describe how "liberal" became a dirty word, what liberal foreign policy and economic policy should look like, and how the Democrats might become a majority party again. (I generally seem to end up somewhere between Michael Tomasky of The American Prospect and Peter Beinart of The New Republic, both of which I read regularly. I'd also say that a subscription to the Washington Monthly is worth having, too — yup, it's not just Kevin Drum's blog; there's actually a very good underfunded magazine hiding over there.)
Each editor also recommends a few key books, and I was pleased to see that Tomasky is paying close attention to non-right-wing Christians: He recommends Jim Wallis's God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. Tomasky observes:
One of the Democratic Party's problems is that it doesn't have enough contact with its rank and file. Right-wing people in this country have a place to meet and talk politics — their churches, increasingly the megachurches in the exurbs. There's not a meeting place like that for liberals and for Democrats. I think it's a job of the new party chairman to initiate some conversations about the core principles of the party. This is not usually the job of a chairman. He's usually a mechanic. But I think this has to happen now, because otherwise, before they know it, it's going to be 2006 and they're going to be the party of prescription drugs again. And then it's going to be 2008 and there won't be any context for what the party should be.
Hopefully Howard Dean recognizes that the Internet isn't a substitute for finding ways to rebuild the social dimensions of liberal politics.
Could moderate and liberal churches effectively challenge right-wing churches as social bases for a political movement? Should they? I see pretty compelling reasons for churches to be alarmed and astonished at the way many conservative churches have sold out to the Republican Party, but I wouldn't feel a lot better if moderate-to-liberal Christians and other religious liberals thought they could provide a countervailing force by yoking their churches to MoveOn or the DNC. But I'm trying to work out in my own mind how the social energy of moderate and liberal churches relates to the health of liberal society and liberal politics. If not at least in part through the churches, where will we find the social base of a renewed liberal political movement?
("Left Behind," Barry Gewen, New York Times Book Review 3.6.05, reg req'd)
Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 5 March 2005 at 2:54 PM