Writer and historian Eric Alterman appeared on the April 20 edition of “Moyers and Company” to discuss his new book The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
In a wide-ranging and thoughtful discussion, Alterman makes the case to Bill Moyers that while social liberalism is flourishing, economic liberalism has fallen on hard times. The majority of people in the United States believe that racism is wrong. Acceptance of the idea of same-sex marriage has charged ahead with surprising speed. And yet, only a tiny minority of people in the country self-identify as “liberal.”
Alterman believes that liberals in the U.S. have “overpromised and underperformed,” and ultimately become victims of their own belief in the rectitude of their ideas. Of course racism is wrong, says Alterman, but what are we going to do if the dismantling of a racist system doesn’t go as planned?
He believes that liberals need to go on the offensive and learn to be cannier and more flexible in selling their message and implementing their ideas. Just because it’s right, he maintains, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work.
Watch the interview, which originally aired Friday, April 20, below: