Is There an Actual Liberal Crackup?

Jennifer Rubin seems to think so. I am not so sure. Yes, the Democratic party has sustained a lot of losses in midterm elections, but the Republican party has proven unable to win the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections, and has lost 4 out of the last 6 presidential elections in the Electoral College, where it counts. For all of the controversies that the Center for American Progress has suffered, there is no think tank on the right with as much power and influence. I don’t see problems at the New York Times and Newsweek as being associated with any particular failures of liberalism, and Rubin provides no evidence whatsoever that problems with liberalism have led to problems at the New York Times and Newsweek. The New Republic is experiencing death throes, but again, that has nothing to do with any failures of liberalism; rather, it has to do with the fact that Chris Hughes, the owner of the magazine, is not bright enough to both preserve the magazine’s brand and to develop a successful 21st century business model for the brand. And while I agree that contemporary liberalism is eroding educational institutions and values, but that hasn’t led to a backlash sufficient to stop that erosion.

Until Republicans–as the most viable center-right/rightist party–are able to win both midterm and presidential elections on a regular basis (thus proving that they don’t simply win midterm elections in which much of the Democratic base stays home), and until conservatives and right-of-center libertarians are able to compete with liberals in the think tank department and in shaping the educational and journalistic landscape, I don’t think liberalism has to worry about going the way of the dinosaur and the dodo bird. And even when Republicans, conservatives and right-of-center libertarians learn to bring their A-game to the political, journalistic, educational and cultural battles of the day, liberalism shouldn’t be counted out. No victory in politics is ever permanent, and no defeat is ever final–which means that those who write gleefully about one side or the other “cracking up” are bound to be disappointed when the crackup in question proves to be less damaging than once thought.

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