These days, the political left is trying to pass big pieces of legislation. They want legislation to bring immediate assistance to individuals and families, reducing a range of inequalities that persist in American life. That legislative agenda ranges from family and parental leave policies to universal pre-K and universal health care plans, expansion of the child tax credit, decarcerating the U.S., creating more housing and housing-first policies and, maybe most notably, passing the Green New Deal. Often, liberals blame Republicans for stopping big legislation from passing, but a new book questions the role liberals have played in creating mistrust in government and preventing the ease with which large spending bills are passed.
“We need to have a more mature attitude towards government in which we recognize it as a flawed but necessary institution.” — Paul Sabin, author of the book, “Public Citizens: The Attack on Big Government and the Remaking of American Liberalism”
Listen: How liberals can instill trust in government.
Paul Sabin is a history professor at Yale University. He is the author of the book, “Public Citizens: The Attack on Big Government and the Remaking of American Liberalism.” The book focuses on environmentalists, social critics and consumer advocates like Ralph Nader, who illustrates the evolution of liberal public interest politics going back to the 1960s, Sabin says.
“Nader both shows some of the heights of that politics, the passage of many of the crucial laws of the early 1970s, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other crucial pieces of legislation,” Sabin says. “But then he also, in some ways, shows the lows of that [with] the 2000 election [when he ran as a third-party candidate].”
He says there needs to be a stronger push to make political changes at the state and local level, but also to instill trust and faith in the government institutions that already exist. “We need to have a more mature attitude towards government in which we recognize it as a flawed but necessary institution,” says Sabin.