2016: A Liberal Odyssey

7271859984_7aad0413d9_h-838x557Maximillian Alvarez at The Baffler:

This is the crux of the problem. When faced with people like Trump supporters, whose views we may see as stupid, intolerant, and recklessly backward, it’s become perfectly acceptable to rebuke those views simply by shouting “this is 2016!” We see our fellows and their different lifeworlds (dangerously unenlightened as they may be), not as unavoidable elements of a history that is still unfolding, but as irritating roadblocks in the way of a history whose coming is already a foregone conclusion. Buoyed by the grace of “progress,” we posit our liberal values as the open, forward-looking counterweight to conservative retrenchment, which stubbornly clings to outdated traditions and the dismal norms that complement them. But, in fact, our approach is the mirror image of conservatism. Like nostalgic right-wingers who resist the onslaught of a changing cultural sphere by upholding the righteousness of tradition, liberals line the barricades erected around a future whose righteousness speaks for itself.

This trend really emerged with Bill Clinton’s ascent as the walking embodiment of the New Democrats’ messages of a “third way,” which simultaneously promoted social egalitarianism and multiculturalist tolerance while ramping up economic deregulation and punitive crackdowns on crime. Many will remember that the treacly, feel-good melody that served as the soundtrack for Slick Willie’s ’92 campaign was none other than Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop (Thinking about Tomorrow).” But what kind of tomorrow were we supposed to be thinking about?

more here.