Eric Alterman's new book, Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America, provides a welcome review of what it means to be a liberal and discusses the evolution of how Americans view liberalism. (In his view the last true liberal was FDR.) Nixon bragged about being a liberal, and George Bush believes in big government but just not paying for it. Under Clinton the size of government fell by 1%; under George W Bush, it has grown by 3%. Liberals believe in individual freedom, but know they need government in order to protect those freedoms from societal forces; so they have become pragmatists. The charges against liberals actually fit the media conservatives better than the liberals, he argues, but the conservatives have set the agenda.
Alterman said some interesting things about Ralph Nader during an interview with Leonard Lopate on WNYC. When asked if Nader was a liberal, Alterman replied Nader is a Leninist who believes that things have to get better before they will get worse and therefore really wanted Bush to win because he knew things would be bad and that was the only way to get the country back on track.