SA’s transition from racial autocracy to constitutional democracy has presented liberalism with a number of challenges. For the DA, traditionally the political flag-bearer for liberal thought, a primary obstacle has been to expand into a party with mass appeal and away from its historically narrow constituency, without compromising its bottom line. Its response has often been worrying, as it tends to indulge expediency at the expense of principle in the pursuit. But the challenge has manifested other problems, often overlooked in debate over position and strategy. Take its leadership, for example. The party, desperate to grow, has come to sacrifice such things as time and experience, just as it has principle and political philosophy, as it seeks out messiahs rather than leaders. The result has been a great many leaders, sometimes parachuted directed into the party, sometimes elevated far above their station, generally backed more on the basis of popular appeal and emotion, than thei...

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