Broadening the Diagnosis: Zizka has an interesting comment on the disengagement of the academic left:

[T]he media-domination myth and the liberal-university myths are both relics of a time (the 60's, and diminishingly up until 1980 or 1984) when it was more or less true. And a lot of liberals did pick up that professorial persona -- masterful, bland, civil, open-minded, ironic, and condescending. When this worked, it worked; someone who's firmly in command can afford to concede little points here and there, have a self-deprecating sense of humor, etc.
It doesn't work any more, partly because a lot of people didn't go to college at all and also because a lot of college students didn't admire their professors much if at all . . . Once the authority was gone, all the other mannerisms became detriments. In particular, professors have kept the above-the-battle pose of being liberal, but too independent to identify themselves with a party line -- much less fight like a junkyard dog for a point of view. I have seen Krugman criticized . . . for lack of professionalism just because he does fight -- not because he's wrong, and not because the critic disagreed with him, but because he violates professorial decorum and is projecting the wrong persona.
All told, between the intimidation factor of the "liberal media" smear, the confusion sown by the "objectivity and neutrality" fetish, and the enforcement of the particular academic persona I just mentioned, a lot of "liberals" are out of the action. On top of that . . . the retreat into private life and personal liberation (both personally and politically -- for some Democrats, choice, privacy rights, and hate-crime laws are almost the whole Democratic platform) has left a big part of the left platform high and dry.

So far, I've stuck mainly to questioning some fairly common and straight-forward assumptions about why the left doesn't fund think-tanks and related organizations. But Zizka is certainly right that this failure is part of a much broader cultural and political story.

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