- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2017

THE COST OF IDENTITY POLITICS

Arriving Tuesday: “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics” by Mark Lilla, a Columbia University humanities professor and, yes, a liberal Democrat.

The 160-page book is a “tough-minded, and stinging look at the failure of American liberalism over the past two generations,” says publisher Harper Books in advance notes.

“Although there have been Democrats in the White House, and some notable policy achievements, for nearly 40 years the vision that Ronald Reagan offered — small government, lower taxes, and self-reliant individualism — has remained the country’s dominant political ideology. And the Democratic Party has offered no convincing competing vision in response. In the contest for the American imagination, liberals have abdicated,” the publisher explains.

The book makes the case that liberalism is now mired in identity politics that emphasize self-absorption and social movements rather than productive party politics. The Democratic Party itself, meanwhile, is knee-deep in self-examination and analyses about what went wrong in 2016. Perhaps the party needs to tend its young.

“As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate,” writes Mr. Lilla.

THE ‘RESISTANCE’ PERSISTS

“With members of Congress in their districts for the four-week August recess, thousands of constituents will join in the Resistance Recess, a nationwide call-to-action with more than 200 events taking place at elected officials’ town halls, and public appearances, or at self-organized ‘constituent town halls’ and speak outs,” advises MoveOn.org, which organized the monthlong effort.

The progressive group plans to “hold GOP members of Congress accountable for their votes on health care repeal” and speak out on immigration, environmental causes and other matters. The group is offering extensive community training for town halls, protests, petitions and neighborhood “listening projects,” plus tips for recording videos of events.

“This movement represents a resistance against Donald Trump that is strongly united in both action and strategy. That’s why thousands of constituents across the country will unite at local events, with or without their congressperson, during the August recess to demand that their members of Congress hold Trump accountable and block his agenda,” says organizing director Victoria Kaplan.

Local New Yorkers will stage a pro-immigration rally outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday.

TLC FOR IWO JIMA

Some much deserved tender loving care begins Tuesday in the nation’s capital. The revered U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial — often referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial — will get new gilding on its engravings and pedestal, plus a meticulous cleaning and wax of its five immense 32-foot bronze figures, a 60-foot flagpole and granite base. There also will be updated lighting, new landscaping for the surrounding parkland and improved infrastructure, according to the National Park Service.

The rehabilitation is a big project. It also uses no taxpayer funds.

The upgrade was made possible through a $5.4 million donation from businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, a man who believes in what he calls “patriotic philanthropy.”

Besides his many donations to academic, art or hospital-related institutions, Mr. Rubenstein has donated close to $100 million in recent years for historic preservation projects to restore the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other major sites. Now it is Iwo Jima’s turn.

“It is a privilege to honor our fellow Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to attain and preserve the freedoms we enjoy. I hope this gift enables visitors to the Iwo Jima Memorial to better appreciate the beauty and significance of this iconic sculpture and inspires other Americans to support critical needs facing our national park system,” Mr. Rubenstein said on announcing his donation.

The Marine memorial draws 2 million visitors a year and was dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Nov. 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps. The entire original cost of the statue — $850,000 — was donated by individual Marines, friends of the Corps and members of the naval service. Again, no taxpayer funds.

MCCAIN’S DEMOCRATIC FANS

Sen. John McCain has attracted a notable number of Democratic fans since he cast a pivotal vote against the repeal and replacement of Obamacare last month. A new Gallup poll finds that 71 percent of Democrats now view him favorably, compared to 51 percent of Republicans.

Democratic approval of the Arizona Republican has jumped 22 percentage points from a 2015 poll; his favorability among Republicans has fallen 10 percentage points since that time. Among Americans overall, he earns a thumbs-up from 58 percent — up 5 percentage points in the same time period.

“The Democratic and Republican shifts in opinions of McCain have created a rare instance in which a politician receives better ratings from supporters of the opposition party than from his own party’s base,” writes Gallup analyst Jeffrey M. Jones.

“Gallup has documented only one other case in which a politician had significantly higher ratings from the opposition party than from his own party. McCain’s friend and former Senate colleague, Democrat Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, had higher ratings among Republicans than Democrats in two 2006 polls.” Mr. Jones continues. “Lieberman’s consistent support for the Iraq War was at odds with most elected Democrats’ views, and his pro-war positions caused Democratic identifiers to sour on him while Republicans came to view him positively.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 80 percent say they have “steady and predictable work” throughout the year.

• 66 percent work under tight deadlines or under “high speeds.”

• 62 percent say their job is monotonous.

• 58 percent say their boss is supportive, 56 percent have “very good friends” at work.

• 38 percent say their job offers good prospects for advancement.

Source: A Rand Corporation/Harvard Medical School/University of California survey of 3,066 U.S. adults fielded throughout 2015 and released Monday.

• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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