Why do liberals love Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

Is the US going to be a bit like Europe?


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ZEIT ONLINE: What exactly should the President do?

Deneen: His efforts to fight the coronavirus and the bailout are first hopeful signs of what he wants to achieve in his first 100 days. Joe Biden is likely to seek to combat economic inequality and thereby heal at least some of the deep wounds in society. However, it is likely that early in his term in office he will raise some issues that I don't think are necessary and that will add fuel to the fire. For example, he also announced a first law, an immigration law, that would pave the way for eleven million undocumented immigrants to citizenship without strictly enforcing existing immigration laws. Ultimately, however, to be successful, Biden must have the support of more workers, not just the laptop shift. Its central question should be: Can we improve the lives of the people, wherever they come from, who have not graduated from one of the best universities in the United States, that is, those who are not graduates from Harvard, Yale and Princeton?

ZEIT ONLINE: So will the US become more like Europe in the long run when it comes to economic and social policy?

Deneen: In a way, yes. But the question in America will increasingly be: what will this type of social democracy look like? The Democratic Party will lean more towards the European model. While the Republican Party elite would like to return to more liberal economic policies, Republican Party voters, including Trump voters, are likely to seek social democracy with more conservative social values. America differs from most European countries in this regard. In the long run, we will get more economic reforms coupled with efforts to strengthen families, communities and religion.

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ZEIT ONLINE: But many Americans equate Europe with socialism.

Deneen: Average voters, including Trump voters, will not move as far to the left as Democratic MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But there is a big difference between the Trump elector and the Republican Party elite. The elites are much more liberal economically, while the conservative voters are much more in favor of broad welfare benefits. For example, there is some openness to general health insurance if it is seen as fair.

ZEIT ONLINE: In your opinion, how should one deal with liberalism, an ideology that has brought mankind great achievements over the centuries?

Deneen: I acknowledge what liberalism has achieved. It is the political extension of the Christian belief in individual human dignity. But in the end liberalism failed, partly because it was too successful. We humans have become too detached from one another. Those who benefit from liberalism still defend it, but the benefits are increasingly limited to a smaller and smaller group of people, i.e. a meritocracy or global elite.

But the class of service providers that liberalism has produced sees the development more and more as a big lie. We in the West are beginning to understand an old Aristotelian teaching: We now know what happens when you go to extremes. When we live in extreme forms of individual freedom and individualism, but lose solidarity and the common good. The difficulties the United States faced with the pandemic also reflect the nature of individualism. The cost of individual freedom must be taken into account if society is not only to benefit some, but to make the prospect of a good life available to all.