In Waiting for Lefty, the radical play of the 1930s, Clifford Odets’s characters suffer not only from poverty but also from disintegrating families and a decline of individual honor. The audiences, caught up in a felt connection between their own plight and the play’s version of the country’s political failures, would often join the actors at the end in shouting “Strike! Strike!” American liberalism is these days
experiencing its own “Waiting for Lefty”—waiting to forge a bond between political actors and the electorate. In the nearly ten years since the high-water mark of “The Reagan Revolution,” Lefty’s return has been predicted not only by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., inheritor of his father’s well-known theory that American history goes through alternating cycles of
conservatism and liberalism, but repeatedly by others writing from a wide variety of perspectives.
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