The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics

The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity PoliticsThe Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics by Mark Lilla
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As someone who counts themselves to be very liberal, this book is a breath of fresh air.

I do not identify as a Democrat anymore despite my more liberal leanings. While I’m sympathetic to their cause I find much of their representation to be ridiculous boys who cry wolf, thus running tune-out interference for a president who needs to be reprimanded.

Mark Lilla, a liberal historian, is clearly sick of the new Democratic antics as well, and Lord have mercy, does he have a message for them.

He’s not particularly kind, but damn it, he’s right. Like a football coach who is going to put you in your place, he’s really just trying to make sure you don’t break your neck and lose the big game.

Even more refreshingly, Mark says what he has to say and then he is done. He does not pad his word total. You will either hear him out or you won’t. His language is fairly direct for an intellectual, and the entire book can be read in a few short hours. Marvelous.

I did have some criticisms of the book. Whether intentional or not, his calls to sympathize with Republican voters are absolutely hilarious. In the same sentence, he will snarl that liberals lack empathy while simultaneously ripping into middle America with snide underhanded jabs. While I found myself bursting out laughing, I didn’t think this book would help his stated case in its current form.

He also plays to his babied millennial base a little too much. This makes little sense because later on in the book he obliterates them and their callousness with masterful pen strokes. If he wanted to go in and straighten out his party, I felt he could have kept the tone to locker room pep talk for a minute longer.

These small gripes aside, I couldn’t put this book down. I long for the days when a popular Democratic president could say “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” I miss the sense of unity some Democratic presidents pushed. It was heartwarming to see someone else of such stature agreed with me, and actually took the time to put together a slim tome on how to solve the problem.

A+. Highly recommended.

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