Can Liberalism Survive Clinton? The Crisis of the “New” Center

Can Liberalism Survive Clinton? The Crisis of the “New” Center

This should be the New Democratic moment. Clinton II began with the banishing of liberals, their places filled by wall-to-wall New Dems: for Leon Panetta, Erskine Bowles; for George Stephanopoulos, Rahm Emanuel; for Robert Reich (in his domestic policy maven role), Bruce Reed. A few months later, the British election results suggested that New Democracy could have global reach, that it might even evolve into a latter-day ism. Moreover, it wasn’t as if anyone else was advancing a program. Chastened Republicans were still reeling from the backlash against their shutdown of government; chastened liberals were still woozy from their failure to enact any significant progressive legislation during Clinton’s first two years. With both right and left in retreat, a hush fell over the political stage. The New Dem solo seemed about to commence.

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