There is, in fact, no sharper difference between left-liberalism and right-liberalism than the estate tax, with its implicit principle that privilege ought not be transmitted generationally. There is no better rebuttal of Deneen’s contempt for liberalism. And there is no better way of standing up against the power of money in politics, the great theme that brought Bernie Sanders to the brink of the Democratic nomination. No less important, the willingness of the left, unlike the right, to gore its own ox might demonstrate to hard-pressed Americans that the liberal elite understands, as it once understood, the meaning of sacrifice.
But do liberals understand sacrifice? Liberalism did grave damage to its reputation in the 1960s by demanding real sacrifices from ordinary people and very little from elites, whose children were not the ones being bused to inner-city schools, nor drafted and sent off to fight in Vietnam. Has anything changed today? So many of the things liberals favor—globalization, a generous immigration policy, an increase in the minimum wage, affirmative action—do them real good and little harm, while impinging, or at least seeming to impinge, on Americans a few steps down the ladder. What do liberals favor that’s good for America broadly but not good for them? Still thinking?
This is not a problem for conservatives, who believe in the social value of selfishness. But liberals fancy themselves idealists. They need to prove it by pulling themselves off their perch. What about mandatory national service? Not killing anyone—that’s for professionals—but clearing brush in a national park. I would advocate eliminating legacy admissions at elite universities, as others like Richard Reeves of Brookings have argued, save that I can’t believe that institutions whose economic model depends on alumni donations will ever do that.
National service and even the estate tax are essentially emblems; perhaps sacrifice itself is a kind of emblem. But it is a language that Americans understand, and appreciate. If liberals are to find a way to speak to Americans who have been trained to regard them as the spawn of Satan, it will not be enough, as Hillary Clinton amply demonstrated, to have the best policies. The death-knell of liberalism really might prove to be premature if liberals can rediscover the deep sources of the collective “we” in the face of Donald Trump’s devastating strategy of “me” and “us.”
Source : https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/liberalism-trump-era/553553/