BILL MOYERS: This week, two important new books, two fine writers – one on the left, one on the right, each an independent thinker. Together, they make the case for old-school faith and politics.

First, The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama.” Eric Alterman superbly tells the story of how FDR’s New Deal liberalism lost its hold on the American imagination and is struggling now to regain it.

A historian turned journalist, Eric writes for The Nation and The Daily Beast, among others, and has published eight previous books. He is also Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College and the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

Welcome to the show, Eric.

ERIC ALTERMAN: Thanks for having me.

BILL MOYERS: So have you written the eulogy for liberalism?

ERIC ALTERMAN: Well, I certainly didn't intend to write the eulogy. No, I haven't written the eulogy for liberalism. I fear that I may have written the eulogy for a certain kind of liberalism, for an economics-based liberalism, for a liberalism that sees the-- that uses a strong central government on behalf of the people who need to be protected by their government, who need to-- who need some force in the world to protect them from corporations and economic forces that are beyond their control. Certainly cultural liberalism is flourishing. Social liberalism is as healthy as it's ever been.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean by "cultural-social liberalism?"

ERIC ALTERMAN: Well, marriage equality, however you want to define it, is clearly the wave of the future. It's when I-- let alone, you, but when I was young, the idea that being gay is something that's okay, that you would talk about with your children and they would have teachers and friends that were openly gay was unimaginable.

Was one of the worst things you could joke about, in those days. And yet, today, we've had a revolution in that area. Much quicker, I think, than most of us expected. When gay marriage first came on the agenda. I don't think any of us expected that it would be legal so quickly. Civil rights took much, much longer than that. But again women's rights, civil rights, gay rights, other kinds of rights for people. Anything that doesn't cost money, really.

BILL MOYERS: This is why I asked you if you'd written the eulogy. Because taking the criticism from the other side, David Brooks, the conservative writer wrote recently that "this should be a golden age of liberalism." Wall Street debacle has undermined faith in capitalism. Worker wages are flat. Corporate profits are soaring. "The Republican Party is unpopular and sometimes," says Brooks, "embarrassing." And, "yet the percentage of Americans who call themselves liberals is either flat or in decline. There are now," says Brooks, "two conservatives in America for every liberal."

ERIC ALTERMAN It's a complicated phenomenon. In fact, if my friend David Brooks had looked a little more carefully at the data, or a little more deeply, not carefully, but deeply. He would have seen that most of the positions that people who reject the liberal label, nevertheless embraced liberal positions.

Just about everyone who calls themselves a moderate has liberal positions. But they won't cop to the word "liberal." That's in part because the word has been so abused. It's been-- there's been hundreds of millions of dollars spent by conservatives to make liberal an epithet. And it's been successful.

And the other reason is probably liberals' fault. It's not that people disagree so with liberals on the issues. They don't. What they don't like is what they feel to be liberal condescension. The liberals telling them how to live their lives.

BILL MOYERS: But wait a minute, it's the conservatives, Santorum and others, who are telling people how to live their lives.

ERIC ALTERMAN: But for a long time, when you and your friends were running the government there was a sense that anyone who stood in the way of progress for black people and other minorities was immoral or ignorant, at best. And they needed to be uplifted. And that was certainly-- I certainly would have felt that way. And-- but it didn't seem to have any end. So at some point, a bunch of people, maybe most people decided, "Well, enough is enough. We've made up for all of the inequities that this country has been responsible for a long time." We've made good on that check that Martin Luther King said needed to be cashed at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. And then the rest of it was just liberals, again, telling them how to order their lives.

BILL MOYERS: What liberals were saying is, "You can't keep people in indentured servitude. You can't keep people in second class and third class schools." It wasn't--

ERIC ALTERMAN: That's what they began saying. But in the late '60s, what they began saying is, "We're going to take your job away and we're going to give it to other people."

BILL MOYERS: You're talking about affirmative action.

ERIC ALTERMAN: Affirmative action, housing, you know, discriminatory housing patterns. If you look at all of the inequity in education, in housing, in jobs, in a place like Chicago. Well, it all derives from housing patterns.

The way-- that were purposefully built that way, to separate white people who didn't want black people in their neighborhoods. And every time you tried to address that, you were met with community wide violence that was approved, by and large, by the community. Fire bombings and horrible things.

And so there were no good solutions to this. And I think one mistake liberals made, even though I certainly sympathize with the goal, is they didn't have a plan for what to do when things didn't work out. When we had to integrate the country with all deliberate speed, what was the plan if the people weren't going to go along with it.

BILL MOYERS: Liberals couldn't have done what you would like them to have done and reversed discrimination in this country.

ERIC ALTERMAN: But the fact is that we were asking for almost a revolution in everyday life for in a lot of parts of this country. And the liberals who tried to bring it on from above--

BILL MOYERS: But when the demand for change came, it didn't come from the top. It came from Martin Luther King. And young men and women on freedom rides and pastors in the South, standing up to Jim Crow. That's where the movement--

ERIC ALTERMAN: That's an enormously inspirational story. I call that the "we shall overcome period" of history. But societies are organisms. And when you change one thing in one place, things change all over the place. And I think that liberals were so in-- they were so committed to the rectitude of their cause that they didn't think hard enough about implementation. And they didn't realize-- I mean, the one things conservatives are right about is that when you change things-- particularly from the top down, they're never going to go as you plan. And you have to be adaptable. But that was Franklin Roosevelt's great strength was he was always ready with another plan when the first one didn't work.

BILL MOYERS: He was impro-- he was a great improviser.

ERIC ALTERMAN: Yeah, great improviser. Government is--

BILL MOYERS: You write that "Franklin Roosevelt's great contribution was to inspire the notion that government might play a positive role in improving the lives of its citizens." But you also go on to say "He never defined the boundaries of benevolent government intervention in either the economy or our individual lives." And isn't that still where liberals are wrestling today, to define the boundaries of government, in its intervention?

ERIC ALTERMAN: I think they're wrestling with the consequences of having failed to define them. I think there were certain boundaries that people would have felt comfortable with and liberals went beyond them. And I do blame liberals, particularly in the '70s for failing to understand that they were no longer acting liberally anymore. They were merely redistributing the spoils of the system amongst various groups.

The political scientist, Ted Lowi, called this "interest-group liberalism." And liberals turned on one another, you know? Feminists turned on blacks turned on gays turned on white working-class people and so forth. And they ended up being their own worst enemies, because they couldn't agree on a common goal for government to lift up people in a majoritarian sense.

The great division in postwar American liberalism is between Roosevelt and Truman and Kennedy's notion that-- I'm not so sure about Kennedy, but certainly Roosevelt and Truman, that this was a majoritarian movement to help everyone, lift all boats. And that by doing so, you would help the people who needed help the most.

And then beginning with the Great Society, it became much more about trying to help particular victims of past discrimination and past wrongs and so forth. And so people no longer saw themselves in this project. And that's when I think liberalism was seen to go too far. Now philosophically, you can say it was the right thing to do, because these are the people who needed help. But it's a political loser.

Again, society's very complicated. People are very complicated. And we have to be careful when we mess with these things. Because we're messing with people's lives. And they're not going to react like laboratory rats.

BILL MOYERS: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, United States Senator from New York, once said that Democrats are the party of government. And David Brooks says that is the problem, is that liberals still believe in government when most Americans don't. He quotes one poll that reports only 10 percent of Americans trust government to do the right thing, most of the time. That makes it hard for liberals to call for more government.

ERIC ALTERMAN: I agree liberals are the party of government. You can't-- look, an individual in society, who is not well-born, who is not born with all kinds of advantages needs help to be able to self-actualize through the education system, through community organizations, to get through college.

It costs to go to a private college, it's $50,000 a year. And with people who work, you know, hard just to make a living, it's not easy. And they need a hand from somewhere, particularly since we now live in an age of global capitalism, where the corporations have no-- feel no sense of responsibility at all the local communities or even the country themselves. So if you want to give people genuinely equal opportunity, which is what is the point of liberalism, you need to give these people a hand somehow. And government is how we do that.

The problem is-- and it's the problem for liberals. There's an awful lot of unfairness in the world. And there's only so much we can do about it, you know, as a society. There's only so much opportunity we can offer people. There's only so much equality that's ever going to be available.

So the first thing we need to do, as liberals, to become credible to the other 80 percent of Americans who refuse to call themselves liberals is find a way to make the government protection of their lives, intervention on their behalf, in their lives credible. And it's no easy task.

BILL MOYERS: Well, you say that liberals have never gotten the right handle on the class issue. That Democrats, they can't handle politically the issue of class, right?



ERIC ALTERMAN: Why can't they do it?


ERIC ALTERMAN: I guess there's two reasons that come to the top of my head. One is that because identity politics, for so many groups, is so strong in this country. In part, because we're a nation of immigrants, and a nation of minorities that those identifications seem to trump class. So certainly race trumps class.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean when you say "race trumps class"?

ERIC ALTERMAN: Most people of color think of themselves as people of color first, not as working people first. And certainly their leaders do. Remember, it was an amazing thing when Jim Hightower from Texas endorsed Jesse Jackson. Because the idea that a white populist would endorse a black civil rights leader for president was seen as shocking.

When in fact, they were on the same side on just about all issues. But the division of race was seen as so much more powerful than the continuity in class. So the great question from Werner Sombart, the historian, why we have no socialism in the United States, it's because the people who would have been the socialists and were in Europe were fighting with each other, between the Italians and Irish and blacks and Jews and so forth. That's one reason.

The other reason is that the conservatives have mastered the politics of class in a way that liberals haven't. Liberals are afraid of the politics of class, in part, because they're funded by really rich people. They're funded. You know, our liberal politics are funded by people who would have to demand higher taxes on themselves.

And whereas conservatives have a consistent message. And so they're able to-- they're libertarianism, even if it's only for show, it resonates with people. It's a response to the liberals telling them how to live their lives. The conservatives are saying, "We're not telling you how to live their lives. You go do and whatever you want."

BILL MOYERS: Libertarians are, but not Christian conservatives.

ERIC ALTERMAN: No. And they're in a very uneasy balance with one another.

BILL MOYERS: You begin your book with a quotation from the late historian, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. himself a great liberal. Quote, "The existence of Franklin Roosevelt relieved American liberals for a dozen years of the responsibility of thinking for themselves." How so?

ERIC ALTERMAN: When Franklin Roosevelt was governor of New York, he wasn't really much of a liberal. He didn't really become a strong liberal until his second term. He was elected on a balanced budget in 1932. But then he came out against economic royalism. And he called himself a "militant liberal." But his policies were not ideologically driven at all. They were incredibly pragmatic.

BILL MOYERS: Militant in his rhetoric against the plutocrats. But many of the New Deal programs deliberately excluded black participation, farmers in particular, others like that.

ERIC ALTERMAN: Yeah, Eleanor Roosevelt used to be on his case about this a lot. But he would tell her this is the only way that they can possibly pass. This is the only way to hold this coalition together. And they're better off. And he was right. None of those politicians would have gone along for the ride if it had included blacks. That was where they got off the train. And in fact, as you know, the labor movement never really made any progress, much progress in the South. And that was because it was insufficiently exclusionary to blacks.

So this-- I mean, you can tell the story of the epitaph of liberalism in many ways. You can say, "In the 1970s, the pie stopped expanding."

As you know, as well as anyone, the great vision of the Great Society was built on an ever-expanding pie that could be redistributed to more people. But once that pie started shrinking in the 1970s, because of largely economic reasons-- then we started fighting over the spoils.

You can say that "Liberals have a tendency, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, to overpromise and underperform." But you can also say, as Lyndon Johnson said, by signing the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and losing the South forever-- he didn't just lose the South, he turned the primary constituencies of the Democratic Party, in the North, against one another. And from that moment on it became much, much harder to put together a progressive coalition.

BILL MOYERS: He knew this. He knew when he embraced the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, '64 and '65, that he was taking it beyond Franklin Roosevelt. He was including embracing the cause of civil rights, knowing it was going to alienate Southern churches, Southern Baptists and the white elites.

ERIC ALTERMAN: And it might have worked over time, if there had really been an expanding pie. But because he got so deeply involved in Vietnam. And Vietnam became such a sinkhole and also divided the country, it became impossible to move forward on the kinds of the "we shall overcome" agenda. And so we'll never know. We'll never know. But the way it turned out was disastrous for the cause of liberalism. And actually, in many ways, for the cause of the people that he was trying to help.

BILL MOYERS: You also quote the liberal economist whom we both know, Robert Kuttner. Quote, "how did we make such stunning progress in three decades on issues involving tolerance and inclusiveness," as you have just talked about. "And how is that, during the same period, we have gone steadily backwards on a whole set of economic issues?"

ERIC ALTERMAN: Another reason that liberals do so badly in polling, in terms of, "Are you a liberal?" is that most people don't think that politicians are going to deliver on any of their promises. So even if you-- some guys promising to gut your Medicare and Social Security and another guy's promising to protect it, they're just promises. It doesn't matter. You might as well vote for the guy who looks and sounds like you, as much as possible.

Liberals have taken their eye of the ball, I think, since the '70s. It didn't happen by accident. They have allowed this purchase of a government to take place. They have spent their time fighting amongst themselves, arguing about peripheral issues, being on the defensive. It has a lot to do with the loss of self-confidence. Liberalism suffered an enormous blow from McCarthyism in the first place. And then from the New Left--

BILL MOYERS: McCarthyism condemning liberals as traitorous--

ERIC ALTERMAN: As somehow less than American. And then they suffered an enormous blow when their children, in the 1960s, told them that they were war criminals because of Vietnam and because of the way we treated the Indians and because of how blacks were treated and so forth. And these were their children. These were the people in the elite schools that they had worked so hard to send their children to.

And they never-- and then Ronald Reagan got elected president, who seemed like a joke. Before Reagan was-- got elected, nobody took the guy seriously. How can you elect this buffoon who thinks that air pollution comes from plants and trees? And so I think those three events, those three punches in a row, robbed liberals of their self-confidence.

And ever since then, they haven't really been able to make their case in a full-throated way. You know, whenever a conservative says, "A." A liberal says, "Well, maybe A, maybe B, possibly a little bit of C." And it's very hard for any politician. If you take the most conservative politicians in our society, you know, people like DeMint.

BILL MOYERS: Senator Jim DeMint, South Carolina.

ERIC ALTERMAN: And Rick Santorum. And you compare them to the most liberal in our society, people like Barney Frank or George McGovern. They're-- I admire Barney Frank and George McGovern, but they're very moderate people. They see the other side of their-- of the issues. They're not demagogic in any way.

BILL MOYERS: So do liberals not have the instinct to fight?

ERIC ALTERMAN: I think, number one, they've lost their self-confidence. And number two, they're, to some degree, hampered by their own recognition of complexity. If you listen to Limbaugh and Buchanan, everything is simple, you know? "Here's what we've got to do." But if you listen to a liberal-- Obama said this about himself and about Jimmy Carter and about Bill Clinton. He said, we're paralyzed by our wonkishness. And it makes it difficult to communicate a vision that we can march to as a collective.

BILL MOYERS: On a scale of one to 100, as a measure of where someone stands, where do you put Obama as a liberal?

ERIC ALTERMAN: With 100 being who?

BILL MOYERS: Roosevelt.

ERIC ALTERMAN: I put him at about 30.


ERIC ALTERMAN: Thirty-five. Yeah, in today's society, I would put him at about 55, 60.

BILL MOYERS: Why the difference?

ERIC ALTERMAN: Because as a society, we've moved incredibly further to the right, since Roosevelt's time. But there's something about our political system, dominated as it is by money and by corporations and by the elite media that beats down the liberalism in Democratic presidents.

BILL MOYERS: I mean, David Brooks, who is a thoughtful critic of liberalism says that liberals need to do what farmers do. They weed. And they get their ground clear. And then they replant. And he says, liberals, Democrats should weed out what's not working.

ERIC ALTERMAN: That's absolutely true. And what liberals have done instead, because of their loss of self-confidence is they've played defense everywhere. So one of the great victories of liberalism, and it's true, was when George Bush tried to destroy Social Security. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo," which barely existed at the time, got all his readers to call up their representatives and say, "Oh, did you want to destroy Social Security?" And it got the representatives to go on record.

But nobody then came forth with a plan to make it whole. Nobody has a good plan on the liberal side to ensure, that I've heard, to ensure that Medicare will survive. Nobody's willing to take on corporate welfare, the agricultural lobby, all the tons of money that goes to all these different organizations. That goes to the Catholic Church, for God's sakes. Billions and billions--

BILL MOYERS: No pun intended.

ERIC ALTERMAN: Right. I mean, they're all these organized groups that, are we allowed to say, sucking at the tit of government. That are considered to be sacred. And liberals need to fight this battle, because the resources are finite. And you can't, obviously, you can't win these battles when the very victories that you won like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid in the Great Society have now become albatrosses around your neck. So they need to do what you and David Brooks suggest is weed out the programs and decide which ones are the ones worth fighting for and expanding. And then fight for them.

BILL MOYERS: Why did you write this book?

ERIC ALTERMAN: I was looking for people who I could admire in history. I was looking to locate myself on the shoulders of others. But more than that, you know, I think liberalism just makes sense. Liberalism is acting rationally and principally in the name of fairness, in the name of the greatest amount of equality possible.

Saying that being born rich shouldn't give you an impossible advantage over everybody else forever. That's just common sense to me. It's what this country was founded on. There were different priorities back then. But it's the same challenge that faced the founding fathers. That faces every generation. And yet, it's held in such ill-repute. It's considered so outrageous.

Whenever-- I've had the word liberal in a few of my books. And whenever I go on the radio or on one of these cable shows, it's like I'm defending, you know, child murder. So I'm really needed to-- I'm a historian, so I needed to understand that process, historically.

BILL MOYERS: In a word, as we say in television, what is the cause today?

ERIC ALTERMAN: Today the cause is greater equality, two words. Well, yeah. No way to say that in one word. Today, we're living in a moral emergency. The combination of the Supreme Court opening up the system to unlimited amounts of money and so much money being accumulated by such a small part of our society has really threatened the future of this country, as a democracy in any meaningful way. Plutocracy is not a hyperbole. It's actually a more accurate description of how our politics actually works.

BILL MOYERS: And plutocracy means?

ERIC ALTERMAN: Plutocracy means the rule of the wealthy, the rule of the very top of society by the plutocrats. Everything flows from that. Schools flow from that. Parks flow from that. Health care flows from that. Housing flows from that.

All the causes that liberals care about, having to do with equality, are only given meaning by the resources that are being, right now, sent entirely upward. And unless we can find a way to equalize those resources, to some degree, then things like integration are kind of meaningless.

BILL MOYERS: So when the proverbial alien from Mars arrives and says, Alterman, how will I know a liberal when I meet one? How do you answer?

ERIC ALTERMAN: You know how you know someone is a liberal? It's because they believe in the enlightenment. It's because they believe in reason. It's because they follow their thoughts to their logical conclusion. And they say, "This is the right thing to do." Now exactly what policies that leads you to is always changing and always open to argument. But they don't say, "This is what God told me to do." They don't say, "This is what the dialectic of history told me to do." They say, "This is the right thing to do for the greatest number of people."

So if there's one challenge that faces liberalism-- liberals today, it is to find a way to revive people's faith in the ability of government to improve their lives. And that, to me, is the-- would be the next chapter of this book.

BILL MOYERS: The book is The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. Eric Alterman, thanks for being with me.


Eric Alterman on Liberalism’s Past, Present and Future

In this conversation with Bill Moyers, writer Eric Alterman describes the grand aspirations, ambitions, and historical ironies that prompted him to write his new book The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. He calls on liberals to regain “the fighting spirit” that characterized Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and to put it in service of new liberal policies for the 21st century. Liberals, he tells Moyers, have overpromised and underperformed, and it’s time once again to make government credible.

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  • Donna Green

    Looking at your show today and I enjoyed the conversation by you and Eric Alterman and his statements about “Liberals” are very telling.  I am a liberal/progressive and have been becoming more political in my later years (over 60). Thank you for a wonderful program.

  • Cleareye

    Good Stuff.  I fully agree about the need for liberals to take on inappropriate govt welfare recipients: big oil, big polluters, big ag, and big body industries that suck up enormously unfair amounts of public resources.  Obama seems to be a lone voice in the wilderness when he speaks against tax breaks for oil companies.  What are liberal policy think tanks and related organizations doing to back him up and educate/train liberal pols and the electorate?

  • Bwprager123

    Nothing against Bill Moyers, ever: but is a liberal’s analysis of the failure of  liberalism what is needed today?  Eric Alterman is insufficiently coherent or cogently critical in this talk, and desperately needs political economy. Roughly: It’s about economic stuff. It’s not about economic stuff. I’ts about culture and racism. But opposing the culture of racism is divisive and wrong. Societies are organisms (like nature!?); but change goes wrong, unfairness is natural,  immutable, and it’s the reformer’s fault for advocacy that offends the conservative by going beyond his “boundaries.”  And liberals, he agrees with David Brooks, are “the party of government” … in a country where there are massive subsidies for energy and military industries, crippling  financial class bailouts for well-healed “investment managerial” gamblers,  and ever more devastating withdrawal of minimally necessary functions of government in the socially  fundamental arenas of education, health care, and food and shelter. 

    Would that David Harvey and Cornel West, Timothy Mitchell and Wendy Brown, and others of their caliber, had been present to critique Mr. Alterman’s timidity. And to have failed to represent that the Business Roundtable, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Pew Trust and numerous others have collaborated to see that business learns to spend as a class on determining the direction of our politics, government and economy is a grave oversight.

  • Atillahn

    There is no such thing as “Fairness” The people who have built the world were people who always wanted more for themselves. There are no rules or values – those are only in people’s heads.

    America was built by people who wanted as much as they could grab themselves, be real. There is no golden past where wonderful liberal policies pervailed over human nature. Sorry, that world has never been, the sky is blue on this planet.

    Liberals fail because they think that humans want to share everything. We are the top preditor on this planet, decended from all the other life here that competes tooth and claw to exist and it is always, “eat or be eaten.” 

    People who think that there are high moral rules and that we can all “just get along” have a speical name. No, not “Libera;” – “Lunch.” (All the religeous are no better, they are just more obdeiant to their popes, rabbis, and ayatollas.) 

    Welcome to Earth.

  • Keyser5632

    Regarding Mr. Alterman’s discussion of the loss of self-confidence (one the part of liberals), I suggest that everyone read the following:
    Gilbert Murray, Five Stages of Greek Religion, Chapter IV, 2002, 1955, 1951, 1912, Dover Publications.

    Very good work by Mr. Alterman.
    Thank you.

  • MikeC

    Show some fighting spirit? Didn’t Obama disappoint his liberal base time and time again? At every significant turn in the road, he gave in to moderates and conservatives, negotiating away all the leverage he had going into his first term. Hard to get excited about a president who cares more about how republicans see him than the important issues he has failed to address (secrecy, indefinite detention, secrecy in U.S. spying on its own citizens, failing to support marriage equality, Wall Street regulation, failure to hold the prior administration accountable for war crimes, failure to hold Wall Street CEOs responsible for the housing meltdown etc, etc. Get excited about that? Got to be kidding.

  • Chris

    When Clinton sign to repeal the “Glass-Sealing Act of 1933″ and “Dodd-Frank Wall Sreet Reform Authorizing the Federal reserve Board to limit interest rates on time deposits”  there
    is not much hope or future for Liberals. They have been
    sold out. Mr. Clinton and Obama had a vito power and did not use it to protect the liberals- working men and women,
    senior citizens, unemployed, poor etc. Everyrhing that was in placed in 1930 by F.D.R. to protect the people is gone. 

  • Chris

    People vote against their own interest!

  • Piksnilderf

    Not big fan of the word liberal.

    Why? I imagine there are those that associate, to varying degrees, the word liberal with: questionable sexual orientation, lack of respect for those in the military, baby killers, drug users, tax loving, communists, etc.

    “Conservative” has less of those connotations; to some it is equated with a patriotic all- American citizen standing proudly in defense of the “liberal” onslaught on steadfast American values.

    I prefer to be described as a Progressive as in someone who sees the world as it is and believes it could be better.

  • zuzu

    Have lost a lot of respect for Alterman’s powers of analysis after this interview. 

    There was no vast redistribution of jobs and benefits in the 1970’s. Feminists did not start attacking Blacks. What is he talking about? 

    Lord knows, Liberals have been terrible at messaging and our so-called Liberal leaders gave been timid in actual legislation—but the rightward drift of the country into a corporatocracy has much more complicated roots than Liberal moralizing or over-reaching.

  • Anonymous

    In a word: CORRUPTION. Made possible by the CITIZEN, IGNORANCE, apathy, misinformation and rejection of common sense (lack of reliance on facts/science), responsibility and morality on the part of CITIZENS.  Made possible by the way history is taught (for those that have any kind of ‘decent’ education), the co-opting of the MEDIA, and a whole culture which is based on MYTH and MONEY.  Those is power want to manipulate and keep their priviledge, keep the inequality — nothing new there. What’s different is that they HAVE bought the Press, the Gov’t, the Zeitgeist of this culture. And until people wake up – I’m sorry to say, I think fascism gains again – by inches, by leaps and bounds. Those do not want to face aspects of reality, who sell out, who think small, have to woken up in other ways…personal experience. The greed and corruption and lies are, however, so great that it will and is now reaching a dangerous tipping point.  Will it go into deeper fascism, as HUMAN NEEDS are not being used and understood well enough by ‘liberals’ but are being exploited well by the elite?  I’ve just been reading Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States. It’s a long struggle.   And I think the word is: CORRUPTION. Even the idea of ‘your children’ has been co-opted successfully by those that want to strangle gov’t (and keep power in the hands of the elite) by talking about the gov’t deficit — which is indeed a threat to our children — because of the HUGE expenditures (60% to Military), cutbacks in tax collection from the superrich ‘job creators’ (give me a break). Corruption — that might the be only word to sell as a liberal/progressive that has a current myth ‘fit’ in the money-based reactions of US citizens who might vote. 

  • Theobromine

    The word “Progressive” hides a thief that would steal my money from MY charities and pet projects for theirs. I give plenty. Keep your Progressive hands out of my pocket and I’ll listen to your “pie in the sky” world views.

  • 4AverageJoe

    Who gains the most?
    The social and civil rights gains of the liberals from the last two generations are in part due to organizing effort. The gains are also just a reflection of changing demographics; as globalization, and market forces have forced people to go where the jobs are in this country. Over the past 2 generations, we have dropped some of our prejudice and bigotry because we rub elbows with others in the workplace, and in our communities and classes.
    Gains of actual curbing of financial and corporate greed have been slim. The large corporations are ‘agnostic’ as to where their profits come from, and who their customers are. But they take a firm, self defining stand on government regulation.
    The thing Mr. Alterman left out of his argument:
    privatizing profit and socializing risk.
    We have a more culturally diverse constituency in the new, near poverty majority in this country. We find common cause with those around us. That is not from a concerted effort on our part, just a reaction to what is around us.

  • Theobromine

    Glass- Steagal Act. Look it up.  One of the things  it meant -that banks could not be insurance companies and Insurance companies could not be banks. Presidents have Veto power – way to spell! I thought liberals went to college! You are right – they need protection – from their own ignorance and laziness!

  • Theobromine

    EXACTLY! We are predators! (Note spelling)
    There is an altruism in humans that wants to share with those whom they choose. Not a forced extraction of our resources for the corruption of liberal ideals.

    Heck, the labor unions are more corrupt than the banks and politicians put together

    The workers provide a lot more than their lunch! The Union bosses live like Saudi Kings .

  • Theobromine

    This is exactly the failure of the “flower children” baby boomers. They are doing too little too late. Time for them to “Man up” and find out what has been happening the last few decades. That’s WHY you have been a liberal/progressive. You don’t know the facts. Try a site such as
    Labor unions are the No 3 contributor to the political elections in my state – giving your hardworkers’ confiscated millions to corrupt politicians everywhere!

  • Karl Hoff

    A wonderful and honest discription of the world we live in, but what was left out was that our entire electrical system that still powers the world was developed by Nikola Tesla who died nearly pennyless, that Thomas Edison said,” I invent to make money and make money to invent” never made much money, Albert Schweitzer gave up the comforts of life to help the sick and poor of the world, Mother Teresa gave her entire 1/4 million Peace prize to the poor, Philo Farnworth battle much of his life to get justice when his invention of the telivision was stolen only to not watch one because of it and the list goes on and on of the real heros that money played little in the quest of improving life for all. One of the problems we have is those who choose to do something that makes the world a better and not be constantly seeking to be the center of attention are often over look……..Not by me!

  • Frizbane Manley

    Right … read “Deer Hunting With Jesus” by Joe Bageant.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Mr. Moyers.Many thanks for the Eric Alterman and Ross Douthat interviews. Presenting them in the same telecast was ingenious. The combination was both extraordinarily informative and I believe a possible key to reconcile many of the country’s cultural differences. “The Case for Old School Faith and Politics” however seems a bit misleading. Alterman clearly calls for a return to a classic form of liberalism but Douthat doesn’t seem to suggest a return to an Old School Faith. On the contrary, Douthat provides a valuable deconstruction of the old school faith. In doing so he uncovers the political heavy-handedness and heresy within western Christian traditions. Douthat brought a very important consideration to the table. He spoke of the ever-present faith component in all our ideologies. Whether western Christianity or classic Enlightenment Reason, faith in the structures of both compel their adherents to fight for their respective ideological causes. Christian ideology clearly depends on faith for its truth claims. Eric Alterman said as much for liberal ideology when he concluded:  “If there’s one challenge that faces liberalism– liberals today, it is to find a way to revive people’s faith in the ability of government to improve their lives.” And when he claimed Liberals, “believe in the enlightenment. It’s because they believe in reason. It’s because they follow their thoughts to their logical conclusion. Now exactly what policies that leads you to is always changing and always open to argument. But they don’t say, “This is what God told me to do.” They don’t say, “This is what the dialectic of history told me to do.” The importance (as well as the irony) of what he says seems integral to coming to terms with the problems of language and communication. Alterman appears to believe his form of reasoning is objective and therefore self-justified, while his counterparts rely entirely on their subjectivity for their justification. I’m not sure he meant to say this but his language certainly pits one faith against the other. It denies the very realty of how faith holds our modern liberalism together. And sadly this denial remains a fundamental reason why liberals see conservatives as wrong at best and evil at worst. (See the Bill Moyers’ interview with Jonathan Haidt.) Both sides and everyone in-between clearly rely on their faith and faith interpretations to support their ideals and causes. Truth, beauty, moral goodness, equality, liberty and justice are the ideas by which we are judged and the ideas we judge everyone else. To this point, history has failed to provide objective consensus and or definitions of these ideas. We only have shared and unshared cultural constructions of the ideas. Political theory and religious doctrine bring interpretations of them but this fact hasn’t slowed both sides from demanding and imposing their moral interpretations of these great ideas. Clearly this is seen in our religious formulations. But for some reason, although just as clearly evident, the subjective impositions of today’s Liberalism seem to go unnoticed by 21st Century liberals. Until they do I suggest the divides in our country will continue to become more hostile. 


  • Lance Drake

    Dear Mr. Moyers,  Your recent guest, Eric Alterman, is a perfect example of a person arguing on behalf of his own personal interests – I call him a member of the “Me-First” club – and believe him to be representative of many who would define themselves as Republicans.  

    Our country will be lost to the “failed policies” of people such as Mr. Alterman.  In 4-22-2012 NYTimes, “Down With Everything” as written by Thomas Friedman, is the perfect explanation for everything that is wrong with the thinking of Eric Alterman. 

    If body language is any clue, watch Mr. Alterman’s eyes – he always look to the side when he is delivering what he knows to be a lie – this affectation (tell ?) is seen quite often in his discourse during your interview.

    Thank you so much for your program.

    Best Regards,
    Lance Drake

  • Alan MacDonald

    Eric Alterman mentioned something in this interview that caught my attention because I watched the show within a few hours of watching ABC’s “This Week” this Sunday, and George Will mentioned the same issue — voter ‘coalitions’ in America.

    On ABC’s “This Week” political eminence grise, George Will, concluded with the observation that,
    something about the Democratic coalition that limits that. Because
    Barack Obama could be all things to all people in 2008 and can’t
    anymore, the reasonable assumption is he’s going to get less than 52.8,
    which is exactly what he got last time.”

    While Eric mentioned almost the same block that ‘coalition’ voting blocks cause in blocking any change in America, when he said: “Lyndon Johnson said, by signing the Voting Rights Act and the Civil
    Rights Act and losing the South forever– he didn’t just lose the South,
    he turned the primary constituencies of the Democratic Party, in the
    North, against one another. And from that moment on it became much,
    much harder to put together a progressive ‘coalition’.”

    Yes, George and Eric, the
    manipulation of coalitions by both parties has been structured such that
    both Vichy parties are evenly matched, and most political pundits think
    that little can be done to dramatically alter coalitions or build a new
    coalition that breaks out from this fated two-party stalemate and
    disastrous downward spiral.

    But in 2012, the only possibility for
    a new coalition that will eclipse, in a single election cycle, this
    entrenched and comfortable hold of the status-quo duopoly is the
    coalition that is naturally and quickly building around the seminal
    issue of ‘anti-Empire’ in all age, race, gender, and geographical
    segments of America.

    Best luck and love to the “Occupy Empire” movement.

    Liberty, democracy, justice, and equality

    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine

  • Alan MacDonald

    Karl, you might enjoy Morris Berman’s fabulous new book, “Why America Failed” in which he critiques the death of the American Dream because of its perversion from that of political freedom from Empire, to one of lust for mammon.

    Morris focuses on the national character of hustling in a con-artist or grifter sense, for which we might say of Ronald Reagan, “let’s
    win one for the grifter”.

    Or as Morris said himself, “But the ‘hustling’ way of life enshrines
    just the opposite: it says that virtue consists of personal success in
    an opportunistic environment, and that if you can screw the other guy on
    your way to the top, more power to you. “Looking Out for No. 1” is what
    really needs to be on the American dollar.”


  • Karl Hoff

    Thank you so much for your reply. So true what you say about the con-artist. Soon all ads will just give everything away. Their favorite word is it’s free, right! I believe that the mistaken thinking is that too many think that it takes the masses to make change, when history clearly shows that all changes start with either one or a small few and when they make the changes through their persistence and right path, people in time follow without war, which allows the least number of people hurt in the transition. Isn’t it strange that so many people are 100% sure that the world is head towards failure in nearly every way, such as the economy, water, energy and the whole way we distribute wealth, while at the same time are not doing what is need to survive when it happens. Our ancestors survived without all the toys we have today and without them, there would be no us. I now live in many ways like those in the 1920s, and all I can say about that way of living is: “Life is good!!!

  • David Lupo

    I am not sure I caught much of what Mr. Alterman was getting at. It seems like he was saying—subversively—that liberalism destroyed itself by siding with people like Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights cause. I could not identify his salient points, and am not sure what he was really getting at. 

    The riots of the 1960s that he mentioned were not supported by the community they happened in, though he states they were. He contradicts himself on how liberal we are as a culture and society. 

    He says that we should give up having the idea about having a government that helps people. Who then will help? The corporation? What would our founding ancestors say?

    I don’t plan to get the book.

  • Anonymous

    I found the choice of Eric Alterman as the representative for liberalism quite dissatisfying.  Although he recognizes the dangers of government by corporations & the wealthy, Alterman comes to erroneous conclusions as to the reasons for the decline of liberalism & misplaces blame thereto.

    First, there’s the “loss of confidence” nonsense.  Liberals don’t have a problem with confidence levels.  Liberals have a problem with resources, or rather, lack thereof.  Economic conservatives are backed by corporations & the wealthy, which fund an endless multitude of propaganda channels (Fox News, talk radio, think tanks, heck, even the mainstream media!), not to mention political campaigns & ancillary political entities (e.g., super PACs).  These channels have, for at least the past 40 years, been at worst lying and at least misleading the public on liberalism, making it into some sort of boogeyman to be feared.  Like socialism, many/most Americans don’t know what it is exactly, but they’ve been brainwashed into having a knee jerk negative reaction against it.

    Second, there’s the misplacing blame for advancing social inequalities.  Time and again Alterman blames liberals for taking it too far.  It seems that in Alterman’s mind, the government shouldn’t have forbade discrimination in housing, education, employment, etc.  He sounds more like Ron Paul than a “liberal.”

    But Alterman’s biggest failure is not focusing on the true reasons for the decline of liberalism.  He touches on them (extremely well-funded conservative propaganda, the role of money in politics), albeit briefly.  Furthermore, Alterman fails to realize liberals do NOT have many champions in government.  The politicians of BOTH major political parties have been bought & paid for, with very few individual exceptions.  Bill Moyers should redo this segment with someone who recognizes these things.

  • Anonymous

    Alterman is compelling.  It is true that liberals have lost their confidence.  I don’t believe society has moved significantly to the right as he implies toward the end of his interview. In my city, Houston, the number of people who want government to help remedy inequality is up 10 percent from the previous poll.  It is just that without confidence, liberals are not leading this movement politically — they are missing an electoral opportunity. 

  • Anonymous

    I found his thesis compelling and credible. And for all his effort, I suspect that Mr Moyers found the same. He seemed to age visibly during the conversation. 

    Bill’s own disappointment in having to acknowledge the truth of Alterman’s critique — which must have cut deep as this was Bill’s own progressive history being challenged — was palpable. Perhaps this is why the conversation seemed to get heavier and never really shifted to questions of what Alterman would actually do where he to have a stab at influencing the status quo. Which is a shame.

    However progressives who do not acknowledge Alterman’s assessment are doomed to repeat the failed recipe: dreams, high rhetoric and impotent promises of heaven on earth. 

    This is a time for fallen angels to get real, I am afraid Mr Moyers. It’s time to find a way of bringing some serious values to bear without the Hollywood soundtrack.

    I agree with Mr Moyers that media toxicity is probably the greatest structural problem and would appreciate more discussion of how to recast a progressive message without unnecessary frills to meet this appalling cultural challenge.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Why does there have to be  continuity in management of the struggle for justice and fairness, especially when the old brand has genuinely earned a bad name? People without know they need something. They know more about what they need than Eric Alterman or David Brooks. We have come to a place where the majority of citizens lack the means of honestly earning the things they know they need. Alterman is more concerned with a dead brand than he is with providing  access and opportunity.

    How do I know he is stuck in the past?
    1. He accepts the permanence of the Conservative vs Liberal rubric. (unchanging binary intellectual concept; us and them) Contrast this with the Occupy consensus that both labels have discredited themselves by becoming  noise machines; self-serving and Oligarch serving falsehoods.
    2. Several times Alterman described our Black population as an impediment to justice and fairness. (He went so far as to claim MLK’s dream check had been cashed.) He subconsciously harbors a reflexive racism that impairs his aspirations for this society.No wonder he claims identity politics is paramount.
    3. Classism: (paraphrase) Those not well-born require specific, pre-formulated selection and material assistance to “self-actualize.” (Consider that for a few moments, especially in the context  of observation#1.) Again, it  does not allow for needed variation.
    4. He claims that attempts at restoring justice are tantamount to running the personal lives of others. My gosh, if you want to correct an embezzler you might have to reclaim the ill-gotten gains. I would not call forced abortion, or forced pregnancy, “liberal” as much as I despise what liberalism has become. If the law punishes a community  for terrorizing those who are slightly different that is for their own good, for the good of the entire community.
    Aggression unchecked tends to become rampant. (Yugoslavia, Rwanda- not that these crimes occurred in  a vacuum)
    5. Alterman fails to indict conservative (and some liberal) leadership for complicity in rigging the economic system to increasingly favor the already wealthy and powerful. It’s like the corporate driven onslaught beginning before Reagan was a natural phenomenon, and unpreventable. Maybe he means that our more egalitarian economy then was poorly constructed so that it was overwhelmed like the nuclear plants at Fukishima. If so, he is an apologist for an Elitism that never took working class needs to heart.
    6. (and from the extra material) Liberals can succeed by getting tough. Sometimes I think a tough Liberal is a totalitarian. Roosevelt’s pragmatism seems to be Alterman’s model. If ignoring the abuse of certain segments of society to gain political power, and cutting loose programs that save lives to please right wing extremists is toughness I will embrace softness every time. The problem is not insufficient hardness: It is halfway measures. Obama continues to punk the caring majority with useless tinkerings such as the Buffet Rule and delaying the increase in student loan interest rates. The opportunity is there for a bold appeal to the sense of fairness still alive in most people, and for the rebuke of those who have extinguished that light of empathy in  themselves. A “real man” would discuss free higher education as a public good and demand all high earners and corporations pay Eisenhower era rates, at least. The pot is boiling over into the fire (literally with climate change and the delay of sustainable practices) and the old school wants to put a brick on the lid. Eric Alterman is “old school” and is not a visionary. He’s remains a vassal in the imposed corporate feudalism.

    *And now you will tease that I squabble with an ally.
    I doubt you know me at all.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    I left this out of #6: Somtimes I think a tough  liberal is a totalitarian… and a tough conservative is a fascist.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    You summed things up with your insightful label: “both Vichy parties” and I wondered how you define the occupying Nazis in the current scheme.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Who would expect a programmer to detect a poker tell!? Yep, Eric is a sell-out. You may enjoy my critique of him above. It is disappointing that Moyers hosts two guys this week who have been touting their books all over creation for weeks, books that are utterly esoteric (and mistaken) and Brooksian (David, the pleaser of power I mean). Moyers, like Obama, could be so much more comprehensive and risk-taking. This puzzles me.
    At his age?
    I laughed when you mentioned that toady, Gorge Swill. Mr. Thomas Flatearth is even worse, but at least he’s clever in his half-truths.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    This “combination” I found nauseating like maple syrup on spaghetti. (see Elf starring Will Ferrell)
    M&C bit off a piece of the noise machine, and spit it back at us.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Yep, emphasis was way off target. 
    It boils down to whore’s race politics as per usual.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    This is the Ravi  Batra Corruption Thesis (retired economist from SMU) and morally it fits fairly well. But it neglects the “power corrupts” aspect. Many Occupiers believe that the polarization of wealth and income caused corruption to intensify. So the cause is material mis-distribution and not so much
    human ethical inadequacy. Admittedly, people are  weak, but there are coercive temptations that are irresistible. Anyway, an economy can’t work with wealth in too few hands. (Be careful about the fascist subtexts and subliminal messaging  in Zeitgeist. It makes viewers intolerant of those who are different.) I agree that the first step is to cap wealth and income (a maximum wage law and stronger taxation of the powerful) We could work together.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    He, is an historian!?! Not hardly!

  • GradyLeeHoward

    I know Joe Bageant and consider him a selfish, predatory person, despite his accurate observations about class in the USA.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Read “Classism for Dimwits” by Jacqueline Homan instead.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Clinton and Obama are two of the finest Pro-Business Republicans ever elected. This is a one party state.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Obama thinks if he rocks the economic boat it’ll sink. But he ought to be thinking about the lifeboats. We needed to abandon this economic ship some time ago.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    A pessimistic measure of human nature is the main tenant of conservatism. No allowance is made for environmental circumstance. That is the fatal error.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    You are correct that the best minds were absent (not  invited?). A warped agenda was set, like in a Congressional hearing, by hosting these two inferior thinkers.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Obama ain’t serious. He’s teasing us.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Long as the checks keep coming all is normal.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    You gotta be joking.
    How do you label yourself?

  • GradyLeeHoward

    People born after 1979 have always lived under perpetual depression, so I expect less from them.

  • Karl Hoff

    Good analysis. For a long time I have believed that the Democratic politicians seek to make a lot of money and deny it, and the Republican politicians seek to make a lot of money and brag about it.

  • David Lupo


  • Judith Guskin

    Dear Bill: Ryan says liberals want a “culture of dependency” but what liberals want is a “culture of responsibility” – responsibility for the growing inequality, for the environment, for transparency, for civic participation by all (and against state laws restricting voting) for a gradual but carefully designed approach to lowering our debt, and for the future in terms of affordable higher education. I agree we must be tougher. We must fight tea party candidates and support candidates who understand that we are all in this together. Ignoring our responsiblity to improve our institutions for the common good, will not improve the lives of those who think their money will insulate them from the struggles of those who are poor or  middle class. 

  • GradyLeeHoward

    No praise due, DL. You came to these same conclusions briefly two days earlier. I had to rerun Alterman and consider particulars to make up my mind.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    A lust for power also drives them.
    But if people only realized how in awe our leaders are of the Superrich there would be little acclaim. An employee considering the obedience and deference required at their own work understands how the President interacts with his bosses. “Right away, Sir or Madam. My busy-ness is no excuse for this neglect.” These butlers like Romney and Obama are trained for 25 years and more. Vote for Jeeves or James, as suits your whimsy.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Consider how classic Greek plays are a critique of Olympian orthodoxy. They need some epic playwrights now for comedies and tragedies of Austerity: the ascendant belief.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    I’m not hooking onto this doomed train of thought.
    Find me a schoolteacher who does not believe there can be fairness. 

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Punishing all people of color for riot damage parallels the racist arguments in Arizona to punish all Hispanics for isolated border violence (and that  ultimate horror, littering on range land).

  • Karl Hoff

    Hi Grady, I too am not hooking onto the doomed train of thought. It has already left the station. If we continue to go down the nuclear road, we are doomed. If we don’t control our exploding  population we will be doomed. If we don’t switch to a form of energy that doesn’t produce CO2 we are doomed and worse yet, if we store it underground and it escapes, and because it is so heavy, it will hover close to the ground and in a few seconds kill everything in its path. My school teachers did not teach me very much that was as useful as what I learned watching what was going on in the world as I learned by watching PBS. Speaking out and pointing out the great unfairness does not say I believe that it is doomed. I fight against unfairness every day with every bone in my body.  Thank you for your reply.

  • Dnadanyi

    Joe died.

  • Dnadanyi

    Will Do-thanks. Going to PA soon with my old cat. Want to visit with Gladdie?

  • Dnadanyi

    Didn’t Bill Gates and his partner buy the future IBM operating system from someguy in his garage.  Didn’t they sell it to IBM before they actually bought it? Now they give drugs to people in Africa so that Africa does not create their own cheaper drugs-something about intellectual property rights.

  • Dnadanyi

    Also a few very greedy people with persistence can cause a huge amount of problems for a vast amout of people.  Read Age of Greed by Jeff Madrick. These greedy people are named and he explains how they have chipped away at our regulations to the horror of the world economy.

  • Dnadanyi

    They used to call it the oil depletion alowance now they rightly call it coporate welfare.

  • Karl Hoff

    Hi Dnadanyi, You definately nailed it in stating that it is really a few greedy against a few fighting for fairness, with the rest in varying degrees inbetween. Some want to join the rich, but haven’t succeed yet, and some want more fairness, but do nothing to stop the rich. In the end it has often been when it gets so bad that people define where they stand and then take action. Also, many times the rich depend on controlling only one commodity such as oil to gain their wealth and when that is gone they often go bust. That’s why I so admire those that make change through inventing a better way of living rather than going to war over it.  Thank you for your reply.

  • Karl Hoff

    As I have stated many times and will keep stating it. At Bill Gates peak he was worth 85 billion. That would take 85,000 years for anyone to equal when making a million a year. So what every he does in his life, it will always make me wonder what would the World be like if he and those like him just lived in moderation and let others have the money he and the other extremely rich hoard…..maybe a safe crime free, kind and friendly World where no one does without?  Thank you for your reply.

  • Anonymous

    Or “Rainbow Pie”. Both great books with insightful views on why some people vote against their own best interest.

  • Dark Hawk 98

    I have enjoyed reading and listening to Eric Alterman’s views for many years, dating back to his days as a blogger on the early iterations of the MSNBC website.   He is a thoughtful person who does not bloviate.  Much like Paul Krugman, he does not articulate his thinking in sound bites but in paragraphs.

    I will be buying his latest book.

  • Dark Hawk 98

     Based on this one interview I can see how and why you would conclude that Dr. Alterman is a vassal of corporate feudalism.  If however, you dig more deeply into his views over time you would draw a completely different conclusion.  is he a saint?  is the the pied-piper of liberal thinking? hardly.  He has advocated strongly over the years that the dominance of corporate plutocrats and the existent plutocracy needs to be addressed strongly and corrected;  a societal-wide correction of  power-balancing needs to take place just as you are alluding too Grady. 

    The model to use as a template for structural changes that need to be made has yet to be determined, we as a society have not settled on it yet.  That the beginning is this re-ordering has begun however, just look at the OWS and articulated compare their frustrations with those of tea-party folks.   On its face they appear to have much in common at certain levels.  Two sides of the same coin(?) hardly, since the driving force behind the tea-party is the Koch brothers but as far as the every day common folks who attend their rally’s? Similar concerns and frustrations that the Occupiers have. 

    My point? Don’t be so quick to dismiss Eric Alterman and his views because in so doing you prove one of his fundamental points which is, we liberals have wasted so much energy and time fighting amongst ourselves over trivial matters.

  • Jakehues

    re  Eric Alterman, 
    listen to the whole Ani poem, but: 

    Lyrics to Your Next Bold Move :

    Coming of age during the plague of Reagan and Bush

    Watching capitalism gun down democracy

    It had this funny effect on me

    I guess

    I am cancer

    I am HIV

    And I’m down at the blue Jesus

    Blue Cross hospital

    Just lookin’ up from my pillow

    Feeling blessed

    And the mighty multinationals

    Have monopolized the oxygen

    So it’s as easy as breathing

    For us all to participate

  • Anonymous

    You misunderstood what he was saying.