“American liberalism in the twenty-first century is in crisis,” writes Columbia University Professor Mark Lilla, due in no small part to its embrace of a “disastrous” identity politics that divides instead of uniting.
In his newly released book, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics, Lilla, a self-described “frustrated American liberal,” decries the implosion of the Democratic Party and liberalism itself, brought on by a growing disconnect from middle America and the inability to paint a compelling vision for the future.
Lilla’s new work expands upon “The End of Identity Liberalism,” an essay he wrote shortly after last November’s Presidential election. In it, he urged fellow liberals to face up to their party’s share in responsibility for Trump’s victory, which Lilla attributed to the rise “identity liberalism.”
Liberalism, Lilla contends in his book, is rightly considered by many “as a creed professed mainly by educated urban elites cut off from the rest of the country who see the issues of the day principally through the lens of identities.”
The core of their error, Lilla suggests, is that Democrats have thrown themselves headlong into identity politics, focusing on what divides rather than what unites. As a result, many feel alienated from a party that once knew how to bring people together.