The core institutions, ideas and expectations that shaped American life for the sixty years after the New Deal don’t work anymore. The gaps between the social system we inhabit and the one we now need are becoming so wide that we can no longer paper over them. But even as the failures of the old system become more inescapable and more damaging, our national discourse remains stuck in a bygone age.
The end is here, but we can’t quite take it in.
Millions of Americans are conservatives and even reactionaries but think of themselves as “liberals”; at the same time, millions of genuine liberals and even radicals call themselves conservative. It’s an unholy mess that calls desperately for a language intervention.
Liberalism insists that an open, dynamic society will lead to a better life for all, and that promoting ordered liberty is the morally obligatory as well as the pragmatically desirable thing to do.
Nobody has a real answer for the restructuring of manufacturing and the loss of jobs to automation and outsourcing. As long as we are stuck with the current structures, nobody can provide the growing levels of medical and educational services we want without bankrupting the country.
Neither “liberals” nor “conservatives” can end the generation-long stagnation in the wage level of ordinary American families. Neither can stop the accelerating erosion of the fiscal strength of our governments at all levels without disastrous reductions in the benefits and services on which many Americans depend.This should be a time of adventure, innovation and creativity in the building of liberalism 5.0. America is ready for an upgrade to a new and higher level; indeed, we are overdue for a project that can capture the best energies of our rising generations, those who will lead the United States and the world to new and richer ways of living that will make the “advanced” societies of the 20th century look primitive, backward and unfulfilled.We’ve wasted too many years arguing over how to retrieve the irretrievable; can we please now get on with the actual business of this great, liberal, unapologetically forward-looking nation?