Liberalism in the Age of Reality TV
Given the incompatibility of line-drawing as a strategy for limiting government with liberalism’s core commitments, it is welcome to see a growing interest in alternative approaches among political theorists sympathetic to the project of liberal democracy. In the last chapter, I explored one such approach proposed by Jeremy Waldron. Waldron argues for “the dignity of legislation,” contending that for too long liberals have denied the fundamental work that takes place in the legislature, where a liberal polity comes together to make decisions about the legitimate scope and reach of political power. While a recognition of the impossibility of liberal line-drawing might lead to greater appreciation of the significance of legislative politics in a liberal regime, one must be careful not to venerate legislative politics, as Waldron does, at the expense of seriously engaging ongoing concerns about excessive coercion in a liberal regime. In the end, Waldron’s institutional optimism about seating democracy in the legislative branch may contribute to the very kind of complacency that enables oppression in the first place.
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