I've read a lot of "why liberalism is so screwed up" pieces, like this one by Matt Taibbi, over the last decade or so, and they've usually made me feel warm and fuzzy with schadenfreude. But enough is enough. At least until December 2008, I declare a moratorium on left-of-center whinging about how screwed up the left-of-center is. It's one thing to complain when you're down and out, getting smacked upside the head by Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman; it's quite another to complain, as Taibbi does, that your side of the political spectrum is "a skittish, hysterical old lady ... easily mesmerized by half-baked pseudo-intellectual nonsense, and quick to run from anything like real conflict or responsibility" when the world is actually going your way. And I say that even though I actually agree some of the substance of what Taibbi has to say about the tensions and contradictions with American liberalism; it's not that he's wrong, it's that his tone is all wrong for a political moment when his side happens to be winning.
Look, liberalism has a lot of problems. FDR isn't walking through that door. And so on. But America's liberal political party just scored an enormous political victory, taking back both houses of Congress from what was supposed to be an invincible GOP machine, and there are plenty of reasons - from electoral math to fundraising numbers to, well, the polls - to think that 2008 is going to be a banner year for liberals/progressives/whatever. The right had the left on the ropes for a long time, but for now, at least, it's the other way around. Public opinion is going liberalism's way on everything from gay marriage to taxes to health care to poverty to global warming, and the Iraq War has temporarily undone conservatism's long-running advantage on foreign policy. There's more money flowing into liberal coffers than ever before; the left is well ahead of the right in internet organizing; the rising generation is having its political views forged in the crucible of the Bush years, with predictable consequences - and for once, the right-wing coalition's intellectual contradictions are more pronounced than liberalism's divisions.
Obviously, all of this could turn on a dime. But at the moment, liberalism looks less like a "hysterical old lady," and more like a winning coalition, than it has in years or even decades. There will be plenty of time for bitching if the Democrats blow it in '08; until then, spare me.
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