Yes, these are not the very best of times. The Lesser Depression, Rick Perry, Obama the helpless, etc. Commie secular liberals like me are feeling defensive, powerless, discouraged.
But perhaps, Ezra Klein and Stephen Skowronek tells us, we've got this wrong. We're under attack not because we're wimps, but because we're the grown up establishment (emphases mine) ....
The Done Deal - Ezra Klein - WaPo
Much of what I'm hearing at the American Political Science Association's convention is best summed up in table form, and so doesn't make for very good blog posts. But not all of it. Yale's Stephen Skowronek, for instance, made a very provocative argument questioning whether progressives should continue to look back to the New Deal for inspiration. The left, he said, likes to think of itself as an insurgency dedicated to transforming the scope of government. But today, that mantle properly belongs to the right.
... the basic insight seems correct: Liberals tend to underestimate how much they have accomplished, and how much ground conservatives have ceded, over the course of the 20th century, and even into the beginning of the 21st. Liberals tell themselves a narrative in which the last few decades have been dominated by conservatives, but conservatives look around and see a state that has been substantially shaped by liberals. Social Security was joined by Medicare was joined by Medicaid was joined by disability insurance was joined by the Environmental Protection Agency was joined by the Americans with Disabilities Act was joined by the Children's Health Insurance Program was joined by the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit was joined by No Child Left Behind was joined by the Affordable Care Act and so on.
Right now, the liberal dream, as embodied by ideas like the public option and universal early childhood education, is to push a bit further in the direction we're already going. The big conservative dream, as embodied by Rick Perry, is to somehow turn back the clock and undo almost a century of social-policy legislation. Where it was once the liberals who had radical ideas for what we should do with the state, it's now conservatives who are waging war on behalf of transformative policy change...
I emphasized the ADA because it still blows my mind. George H Bush signed that bill in 1990. Twenty years later it's relatively uncontroversial, but it was a major progressive victory. It's much more progressive, for example, than anything Canadians have.