Liberalism’s ready for a comeback!

But too often progressives have spent more time complaining about what wasn’t done than in finding ways to build on what has been achieved. It took decades to complete the modern Social Security system and years to move from tepid to robust civil rights laws and from modest to comprehensive environmental regulation. Impatience is indispensable to getting reform started; patience is essential to seeing its promise fulfilled.

And both the liberals and Obama need to escape the bubbles of legislative and narrowly ideological politics and re-engage the country on what can only be called a spiritual level. Modern American liberalism is not some abstract and alien creed. At its best, it marries a practical, get-things-done approach to government with a devotion to fairness, justice and compassion. These sentiments are grounded in the nation’s religious traditions and also in our commitment to community-building that Alexis de Tocqueville so appreciated…

In 2010, American liberals should have been cured of any overconfidence. Now, they and the president need to rekindle the hope that this year will be most remembered not for the defeats but for the first steps taken down a more promising road.