CRB: What’s left?

The Fall 2016 issue of the Claremont Review of Books is in the mail and, thanks to our friends at the Claremont Institute, I have read it in galley to select three pieces to be submitted for the consideration of Power Line readers. As always, wanting to do right by the magazine and by our readers, I had a hard time choosing. You, however, can do your own choosing at the heavily subsidized price of $19.95 a year. At that price the CRB affords the most cost-effective political education available in the United States of America. Subscribe by clicking on Subscription Services at the link and get immediate online access thrown in for free.

William Voegeli is senior editor of the CRB and the author, most recently, of The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion. His previous book is Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State. He is a wise man.

I have chosen to lead off our preview of the new issue with Bill’s essay/review “What’s left?” The title reminds me of the old Peggy Lee song “Is That All There Is?”

In this essay Bill reviews new books by E.J. Dionne, Thomas Frank and Jefferson Cowie. Bill finds these books to be worthy of examination “at a time when the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump insurgencies signal that the battle lines between Left and Right in American politics, long static, are giving way to new conflicts and coalitions, ones that are notably fluid rather than predictable.” Bill concludes on a note that in a sense anticipates the results of the election which he thought the least likely possible outcome at the time he wrote the essay:

People who call themselves “progressives” clearly think time is on their side, just as those who call themselves “conservatives” clearly think it isn’t. The latter may find solace in reading the books of the former, such as these three. They make clear that behind the smug blather about the “right side of history,” progressives have real dilemmas and doubts. To make their ideas cohere, and to align them with recalcitrant political realities, remains a great challenge. In a season where conservatism suffers from adverse circumstances and self-inflicted wounds, a deeper understanding of progressives’ frustrations encourages the hope that there may yet be, as Adam Smith said, a great deal of ruin in a nation.

It’s a long essay that, as always with Bill’s work, bears reading and rereading.


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