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Friedman and Lithwick on What’s Left (for the Left)

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5 Responses

  1. Orin Kerr says:

    Shorter Friedman & Lithwick: “Dems used to be really liberal and lose elections, and now we’re more moderate and win elections, but we don’t stand for as much as we did when we were really liberal and lost elections.”

  2. Joe says:

    “Progressives were once unapologetically pro-choice, committed to the idea that women would control their own bodies and destiny, and that the government should stay out of it.”

    They aren’t now? Is Wendy Davis a conservative?

    “somewhere along the line, to be progressive also stopped meaning a commitment to help the poor”

    expanding Medicaid ala the ACA, opposing voting id in part for the cost, fighting against cuts to food stamps etc.?

    I can go on, but really, some of those same sex married couples should pour the champagne over their heads.

  3. Joey Fishkin says:

    I usually like the work of both Lithwick & Friedman, but I don’t think this was their best piece. What it lacked was evidence: where was the evidence that “progressives” have shifted their views in the ways Lithwick & Friedman say?

    Too much of the piece, in my opinion, focused on courts. A simpler version of the authors’ story might run as follows. The Supreme Court has been on a sharp rightward trajectory for some time, with the replacement of O’Connor with Alito being a particularly significant shift. However, Justice Kennedy does appear to have a strong sense of the importance of gay rights. In his hands, jurisprudence on that one issue has edged more “progressive,” even as on most other issues “progressives” are losing across the board.

    The Court is the only place their story really holds up. In the political sphere, the major moderation/triangulation on the progressive side was much earlier — think Bill Clinton in 1992. When I look at the Obama Administration today, and the progressives who support Obama, I see a less apologetic, more serious progressive agenda than we saw in the 1990s. And I hardly see a singular focus on gay marriage. I would say the single greatest focus lately has been health care. Economic mobility for the unemployed and the lower middle classes is close behind. Admittedly, it’s not the focus specifically on the poor that Democrats had back in the 1960s, but that has been true for 20+ years. Gay marriage an important item is on the progressive agenda, for sure, but just speaking descriptively, it’s not the top item, unless by progressive you mean “the intersection of progressive and Justice Kennedy.” At least that’s how I see it — and Lithwick & Friedman didn’t offer any actual evidence to the contrary that I could discern.

  4. Orin Kerr says:

    Very good comment, Joey.

  5. Joe says:

    My namesake has good analysis and to work off it even as to “the courts” progressives have advanced some, including in the death penalty area. Even there, progressives haven’t “abandoned” their cause, even if they are losing more.

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