In a very interesting article about Theodore Roosevelt as a statist-oriented reformer, University of Missouri law professor Joshua D. Hawley declares by the by that the American Left has not had a significant new idea since the progressive period. I may be misunderstanding what is meant by the progressive period, but I would have to disagree strongly with this statement.
What about “diversity,” multiculturalism, group rights and group proportionality, the idea that women and men should be 50-50 in all areas of endeavor, and the idea that if they haven’t been absolutely equal and the same, it’s proof of massive discrimination and injustice throughout history? What about extreme environmentalism and sustainability, the institutionalization of single motherhood, the creation of a constitutional right to abortion, marriage between members of the same sex, homeownership for people who can’t afford homes, college for everyone, speech codes and political correctness, Supreme Court justices’ citing foreign law and United Nations documents in their decisions, and an increasingly filthy popular culture? (And for that matter, what about bicycle paths and pedestrian zones on Broadway?)
I’d say the American Left has been extremely busy, cooking up new ideas faster than the culture can process what to do with them. Thinking liberalism is brain-dead has been one of the fatal mistakes of conservatism. For a while it may have seemed so, what with Reagan’s presidency and the election of his vice-president (one of the few times in American history that a vice-president has succeeded his two-term president) and the (slight?) rightward correction of New Deal and Great Society ideas this represented, but that was only temporary. In fact, a certain degree of hubris may have entered conservative thought at that point, harming conservatives’ ability to confront the Left’s agenda and thus prompting their gradual surrender to it.