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Ken Masugi is the Director of the Claremont Institute's Center
for Local Government.
Its purpose is to apply the principles of the American Founding
to the theory and practice of local government, the cradle
of American self-government. Dr. Masugi has extensive experience
in government and academia. Following his initial appointment
at the Claremont Institute (1982-86), he was a special assistant
to then-Chairman Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission. After his years in Washington, he
held visiting university appointments including Olin Distinguished
Visiting Professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. Masugi
is co-author with Brian Janiskee of both The
California Republic: Institutions, Statesmanship, and Policies (Rowman & Littlefield,
2004) and Democracy
in California: Politics and Government in the Golden State (Rowman & Littlefield,
2002). He is co-editor of six books on political thought,
Supreme Court and American Constitutionalism with
Branford P. Wilson, (Ashbrook Series, 1997); The
Ambiguous Legacy of the Enlightenment with William Rusher,
(University Press, 1995); The
American Founding with J. Jackson Barlow
and Leonard W. Levy, (Greenwood Press, 1988). He is the editor
Tocqueville's Democracy in America, (Rowman & Littlefield,
to Masugi index]
Liberalism Be Saved?
Not with the usual suspects...
[Ken Masugi] 3/8/05
In an interview and
an essay in
the NY Times Book Review various left-of-center magazine
editors reflect on liberalism’s current perils and prospects.
blindness of liberals in the interview of the Book Review editor,
Barry Gewen, with Peter Beinart, the editor of The New Republic;
Michael Tomasky, the executive editor of The American Prospect;
and Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation,
show a distinct lack of connection with political reality—other
than that their ideas have been discredited. Beinart is the
most aware; vanden Heuvel utterly clueless.
One of the Democratic Party's problems is that it doesn't
have enough contact with its rank and file. Right-wing
people in this country have a place to meet and talk politics
-- their churches, increasingly the megachurches in the
exurbs. There's not a meeting place like that for liberals
and for Democrats.
liberal meeting places are called universities, and they’re subsidized
by taxpayers and donors who are largely kept ignorant of what’s
going on inside them. See also, the bureaucracy and law firms.
HEUVEL. In fact, liberals and progressives have done a
lot over the course of history to save the market from
itself and from its excesses. And there is an interesting
movement under way within the Democratic Party led by people
like Eliot Spitzer and the treasurer in California, Phil
Angelides, to use public pension funds to invest in what
are called high-road investments: clean energy, high-wage
enterprises. I think that's an interesting use of the market.
what she’s getting at in California see our posts
on public pension funds, some of which, we point out,
has been going to the People’s Republic of China and the Sudan.
types, Beinart, who defends the war in Iraq, almost sounds
like a neo-conservative (in its original meaning):
I think one of the great problems in the debates about
abortion and gay rights is the perception that liberals
are illiberal and nondemocratic…. And there is an important
debate for liberals to have about the role of the courts
in pushing social change. Finally, I don't think you can
separate these questions from people's larger concerns
about the culture. Liberals should believe in free speech,
of course, but there is no reason that liberals need to
believe that everything that comes out of an unregulated
free market is good culturally.
he gives the game away, which he evidently thinks is primarily
Democratic Party needs a strategy with military voters
not simply because of their numbers, but because military
voters will give the Democratic Party credibility with
nonmilitary voters who are concerned the Democratic Party
is not tough enough. One cannot forget the central fact
that the Democratic Party has lost every election since
the 9/11 era, in which national security has been predominant.
That is an enormous, enormous problem.
Institute colleague Bill Voegeli dissected Beinart in
this essay and went after liberalism again in this one, in
the current Claremont
Review of Books.
Foer provides a more thoughtful but even more desperate policy
In a dense
essay Foer, senior editor of the New Republic, notes
the left’s new-found joy in federalism. This is an extension,
he argues, of a century-old debate between Herbert
Croly (the founding editor of the New Republic)
Brandeis, a social reformer appointed by Woodrow Wilson
to the Supreme Court. Croly favored an agenda of centralization
and efficiency, Brandeis the use of the states as “laboratories
of democracy.” Foer maintains that President Clinton was a
kind of neo-Brandeisean liberal federalist (my concoction;
his middle name is Jefferson, after all.) “Progressives once
championed states as laboratories of democracy. Now many of
them are hoping these laboratories will produce the Democratic
certainly is a fundamental constitutional principle; it is
also in many
respects an empty vessel. Thus champions of federalism
often turn out to be merely advocates of this or that particular
example, slavery) rather than defenders of constitutional
California we have long recognized this liberalism, as manifested
State Supreme Court’s decisions making criminal justice more
difficut ("independent state grounds"). (See my chapter on
the courts in Democracy
in California.) But how will Foer judge the success
initiatives in California and in Oregon?
Liberal kneejerk support of illegal immigration, race and gender
preferences, criminal rights, and property regulation against
direct democracy will scarcely build the Democratic party.
But then neither will conservative satisfaction with direct
democracy’s results build an effective conservative party.
these comments, it will be up to the Democratic Party politicians,
not its intellectuals, will have to save it. But note who they
voted as their party chairman. tOR