As a rural, white, male liberal from Republican country, I appreciate your perspective but I have some counter-balancing observations.
- Liberal, academic “smugness”: have college-educated people, who happen to lean liberal, been smug? Or have they expected a bit of meritocracy and respect for their work and achievement? There’s a reason that experienced and educated people expect a degree of deference in their areas of expertise: they’ve earned it.
- Who’s chiefly responsible: I'm not sure why liberals would feel “smug” politically. Conservatives have largely been in power for decades. Republicans hold 33 Governorship and 32 state legislatures. The have held the House, Senate and the majority of Supreme Court seats. The past three decades have given us either conservative or centrist Presidents. If a conservative in 2016 feels let down by their Government, there’s a high probability that they have been let down by Republicans.
- Moral relativism: as a liberal, I too feel that the left has been too willing to embrace the moral relativism of political centrism (by definition, centrism is the relative position between the two ends). The left was allowed our pursuit of compromise to justify our ignoring of soft racism, misogyny and bigotry. We’ve allowed moral absolutes like healthcare and education be privatized and exploited by profiteering.
- Divorce not possible: I doubt that succession will occur but I do see an increasing divide between people that, unfortunately, no longer share the same core values. I’m not sure that’s a classical “left / right” divide, but rather a divide between those that believe in fulfilling the responsibilities of self-determination and representative democracy, and those that value their personal liberty, freedom and enrichment over everything else. Technology, globalization and easy movement of intellectual labor will allow like-minded individuals to increasing congregate in geographic areas. Yes, on the Federal level will will still need to co-exist but we will slowly see our “disagreeable cousins” at only a handful of family holidays.