Alan Brinkley

Alan Brinkley is Allan Nevins Professor of History at Columbia University and the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century.

Recent Articles

Becoming Obama

The life of Barack Obama is a tale of post-civil rights movement racial politics.

(White House/Pete Souza)

The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick Alfred A. Knopf, 672 pages, $29.95

What's Next?

This time there are no excuses -- no thwarted popular majority, no fatal butterfly ballots or hanging chads, no renegade Supreme Court decision, no Nader factor. This was a defeat, pure and simple -- not a landslide, not an unambiguous mandate for the policies of the Bush administration, but unmistakably a defeat. So where do Democrats, and liberal-progressive Democrats in particular, go from here?

Liberty, Community, and the National Idea

Is a renewed emphasis on the value of community the answer to our political woes? Not if it's defined in purely local terms.

Nothing is so central to America's image of itself as the idea
of individual liberty. It is, we believe, what spurred many of
the first European settlers to leave their homelands and come
to our shores. It drove the revolutionaries who broke with England
and created a new nation. It shaped the Constitution and, above
all, the Bill of Rights. And it has been, we claim, the defining
characteristic of our democracy for more than two centuries.

Liberalism's Third Crisis

This isn't the first time liberals have faced reverses and needed to reframe their ideas.

This is a pivotal moment in our recent political history. The 1994 elections may or may not represent a lasting realignment of party loyalties. But even if they do not, they are clear evidence of something at least equally important. They reveal how massively government, politics, and the liberalism that has for decades largely shaped them have lost popular support, even popular legitimacy.