It’s hard not to focus simply on the latest tweet, appearance, or action by President Trump, especially if you are opposed to what he is doing. He is a master at grabbing attention and getting into one’s head.
At least that is true for me, a liberal, who I have to admit, is often annoyed by and occasionally disagree with some of the liberal and progressive responses to what President Trump and many Republicans are saying and doing.
So I try to stay in touch with some more conservative types, listening to what they say or write.
Occasionally on this website I post or link to something I’ve read that I think goes beyond just knee-jerk reactions or the ‘party line.’
Recently, David Remnick, editor-in-chief of The New Yorker since 1998, posted an interview he had with Mark Lilla on the issue of identity politics. Lilla is a self-described liberal and a professor, currently in residence at Columbia University.
This interview and Lilla’s views (what he believes liberals need to hear and understand) sent me to his very short book, The Once and Future Liberal.
I found the interview and the 160-page book intriguing and reflective of those with whom I talk who are not surprised by Trump’s victory nor by the loss of Democratic majorities in Congress, in state governor-ships, and in statehouses. Over and over I hear that the Democrats are too focused on identity issues, i.e., woman’s issues, minority issues, gender issues, etc. and fail to understand what has happened economically and personally to many others in this country (many who are not members of these identity groups).
While I am not entirely convinced of everything Lilla believes, some of what he says resonates with me. For example, Lilla urges that rather than call names or accuse others of being racists. etc., we need to “frame (issues) in terms of basic values and principles that we share in order to establish sympathy and empathy and identification with someone else.” And I also agree that we (Democrats) have been too focused on simply winning the White House and have given an open field to Republicans on the state level.
If you can divert for a bit from whatever the current noise is on the political scene, check out the interview: A Conversation with Mark Lilla on His Critique of Identify Politics, by David Remnick, The New Yorker, Aug. 25, 2017.
If you have a couple of hours and want to get Lilla directly, check out his book, The Once and Future Liberal.
If you read either, I would very much like to hear from you and what you think about what Lilla is saying. I urge you to consider responding in the Comment section of this post so that there can be a conversation about the issues Lilla raises.