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This edition: The Surrender of America's Liberals

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Episode Details

Political scientist Adolph Reed, Jr. talks with Bill Moyers about his new article in the March issue of Harper’s Magazine – a challenge to America’s progressives provocatively titled, “Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals.”

In the piece, Reed writes that Democrats and liberals have become too fixated on election results and kowtowing to the status quo rather than aiming for long term goals that address the issues of economic inequality, and that the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama too often acquiesced to the demands of Wall Street and the right. “The left has no particular place it wants to go,” Reed claims. “And to rehash an old quip, if you have no destination, any direction can seem as good as any other.”

He continues, “With the two parties converging in policy, the areas of fundamental disagreement that separate them become too arcane and too remote from most people’s experience to inspire any commitment, much less popular action. Strategies and allegiances become mercurial and opportunistic, and politics becomes ever more candidate-centered and driven by worshipful exuberance about individuals or, more accurately, the idealized and evanescent personae – the political holograms – their packagers project.”

Reed concludes, “The crucial tasks for a committed left in the United States now are to admit that no politically effective force exists and to begin trying to create one. This is a long-term effort, and one that requires grounding in a vibrant labor movement. Labor may be weak or in decline, but that means aiding in its rebuilding is the most serious task for the American left. Pretending some other option exists is worse than useless.”

Guest List

Adolph Reed Professor of Political Science , New School for Social Research

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