Chris Hughes: or, liberalism isn’t just gay marriage

I read this story at Salon in light of The New Republic resignations.

Consider a troubling anecdote in a new column from the Post’s Dana Milbank. This fall, Alec MacGillis, a senior editor who resigned in last week’s mass exodus, proposed a piece on Apple’s tax avoidance schemes. MacGillis pitched the story shortly after Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, came out as gay. In an email exchange, Hughes shut down MacGillis’ idea, declaring that “Apple has acted squarely within the law” and that such a piece would be “tone deaf” after Cook’s “incredibly heroic” announcement.


Hughes’ statement reflects the fundamental bankruptcy of a liberal cast of mind which holds that enlightenment on social issues is the defining feature of modern liberalism; economic injustices and inequities are secondary or tertiary concerns, if they are concerns at all. This liberalism — more precisely, neoliberalism — makes its peace with the plutocracy.

See, this is why Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee makes me nervous. Per this poll it appears that most voters regard Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street as a fundamentally good thing. I do not.

Those close ties to Wall Street are good if you accept that the economic system that produced so much wealth for such a small group in New York is fundamentally fair and just. American capitalism is fundamentally OK, it just has a few minor hitches. Wealth inequality in the US is not a problem compared to say, gay marriage.

Which is to say that once whatever social issue of concern has been fixed for these Democrats (gay marriage, immigration, abortion rights, whatever) then the status quo becomes perfectly OK. Chris Hughes can marry whom he likes, so the fact that American wealth distribution is so skewed isn’t a problem. Hillary Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street are OK because, well, she’s probably more liberal on abortion than the Republican nominee will be.

So in this troubling view, liberalism only applies to social issues. Economic issues? Nope, everything is fine here. There are rich liberal people, so you can all go home now.

Fuck that.

Liberals should work towards helping the poorest in society. If we see inequality we’re supposed to say, “Gosh, I wonder WHY there’s so much inequality? Is it just?” We’re just not supposed to have one pet issue and then, once that’s fixed, pack our bags and go home. OK, we have a black president, we can ignore the problem of African-American incarceration. We can ignore the Eric Garner killing. Everything is OK now.

If you’re only a social-issues liberal, or a one-issue liberal, I’m not sure we’re really on the same side.

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