The politics of feeling good

Kevin Baker’s article on the horrors of a Rudy Giuilani presidency is the best I’ve read in months: pungent, well-researched, and original. He rightly sees the continuity between the Big Business flirtations during the Clinton years and the marginalization of progressive forces in this country. Walter Karp might have agreed with this:

The old power brokers would be swept away, along with traditional liberal
and conservative politics. What the Clintons learned from this, and would learn and learn again over the course of their many years in politics, was that progressivism could be advanced only in the most incremental installments, and only with the imprimatur of powerful corporate and financial elites. They would adopt a sort of “post-ideological” politics — a politics that abandoned the old ideologies and claimed none of its own.

Adorno would be a lot more eloquent than I about the reificiation of progressivism, etc. However, his conclusions are too wistful; serious about wanting a coalition of voters united behind something beyond mere pragmatism, Baker admires the evangelical wing of the GOP for its commitment to principles and hopes that liberals learn something from them. While I admire how this liberal avoids smugness towards a subculture that appears weird to him, I can’t see why we can’t rely on a document as lucid as our Constitution to illumine the better angels of our nature.