Our norms are always evolving. Immigration, pot legalization, same-sex marriage and “big business” are the issues that Rosenthal’s claims portend progressivism’s triumph. Yet, most of these are only incidentally progressive. Marijuana legalization or support for same-sex marriage is far more likely caused by a growing ‘live and let live’ mindset than any burst of leftist idealism. And if the ‘live and let live’ mindset starts bleeding into other area of American life — say education, health care or religious freedom– the left is in trouble.
In the end, the progressive agenda demands that you trust the state to control economic outcomes; an idea that is yet to be proven especially popular among Americans. Will it be? Who knows? But right now what does seem to be growing is skepticism towards government. Especially among the young. When Gallup asks, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” it doesn’t bode well for the left that a plurality– Independents, Republicans and Democrats – say its government. Fifty-three percent of Americans claim to believe government does “too many things.” (Forty percent think its powers should be expanded.) Add to this the fact that, according to Gallup, a record number of Americans (42 percent) are rejecting partisan labels and identifying as political independents. Sounds like there’s a growing number of voters with a libertarian disposition– though most would never articulate it that way.