Liberal Heroes

LIBERAL HEROES….I just read Todd Gitlin’s latest column in the Washington Post, pointed there by Atrios and Avedon Carol, who disapprove, and Gary Farber, who thinks it’s “spot-on.”

And….I dunno. Gitlin shakes his head at the “intense wounded rage” of the right, something that he agrees is inexplicable considering that ? basically ? they’ve won: not only did they win the war with Iraq, but they control “the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and, increasingly, the lower federal courts.”

But he also shakes his head at the “helplessness” of the left, suggesting that simply opposing conservatives isn’t enough. Liberals need to have solid, proactive policies, especially in the field of foreign affairs, not just furious reactions to George Bush.

Now, I basically agree with Avedon that

The Democratic left, at least, has perfectly good policies – they just aren’t as dramatic-sounding as Invading a Country! and Winning a War! and Enormous Tax Cuts! and what-have-you.

But if liberal policies really are more nuanced than conservative ones, that’s all the more reason that they need to be articulated more forcefully and more plainly, no?

So….I still dunno. I don’t think I’m quite ready to reject Gitlin’s critique just because I don’t like it. I guess I need to think about it some more. But he did say one thing that struck a chord:

For its part, much of the left now is drawn toward melodramatic good-guy, bad-guy polarization — or rather, would be so drawn if it could settle on who, if anyone, might occupy the positive pole.

Conservatives have their heroes, but do we have ours? I have to admit that when I survey the (broadly defined) political field, I find very few people I truly admire. Who are the liberal heroes of the beginning of the 21st century?

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