Barack Obama had a choice between liberalism and the Democratic party. He chose the latter, and it cost him dearly.
Liberalism, as an ideology, insists that government can do good and great things for the people and the world if the people running the government are smart liberals. The Democratic party says the exact same thing. But liberalism is an ideal, while the Democratic party is that ideal’s representative here in the real world — and in the real world, political parties always disappoint.
Just to be clear — and to avoid a lot of “Oh, yeah? What about Republicans?!” responses — this is true of the GOP, too. Conservative ideology holds that government should do only those things that only government can and should do, a list that is very short. For instance, government shouldn’t be in the business of playing favorites in the economy. It shouldn’t “pick winners and losers.” Rather, it should be a fair umpire and let competition work its magic. Alas, Republican politicians routinely fall short of this ideal, preferring to be pro-business rather than pro-market. That, in so many words, is why the Export-Import Bank is immortal.