The American right thinks the country needs to be restored—made great again, whatever that means. The liberal center thinks it needs to be saved from right-wing barbarians—and maybe from some leftists whom liberals find alarming. The left thinks the country still needs to be built: as a stronger democracy, a more secure economy, and a more genuinely plural and inclusive nation.
In the March issue of the New Republic, I argue that the left sees things that others in U.S. politics prefer not to see: For workers, women, people of color, citizens and the undocumented alike, being “equal” in a technical sense—having equal rights and participating in democracy by voting in elections every few years—is not enough defense against deep inequality and vulnerability; we also need changes that will deepen the lived experience of liberty, equality, and democracy, so that people can become both safer and more powerful. The left—inasmuch as it's even one thing, which of course it isn't entirely—has always emphasized equality, democracy, and the challenges capitalism can pose for both. Those problems are now front and center in the United States and around the world.