Leftist Eruption Threatens to Capsize Democratic Party
The latest tremor in the leftist earthquake shuddered this weekend as the California Democratic Party sent a stark message to Washington: You can take your stuffy old “liberals” and shove them in a closet. We’re goin’ socialist, baby!
65% of the state party chose to put their endorsement behind State Sen. Kevin de Leon, a far-left radical who has been instrumental in turning California into a safe haven for illegal immigrants. The vote was a shocking blow for longtime California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who nabbed just 7% of the vote.
While Feinstein remains well ahead of de Leon among California voters, the significance of the endorsement cannot be missed in Washington. It follows, of course, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset primary victory over Rep. Joe Crowley in New York and Bernie Sanders’ historic near-upset in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. So-called “democratic socialism” is on a serious upswing on the left, and you can already see the effects it’s having on the party as a whole. Several mainstream Democrats, particularly those with dreams of 2020 floating in their eyes, have signed on to such issues as free universal healthcare and abolishing ICE. No one wants to be caught toeing the neoliberal line when the Commies come out to vote.
Unfortunately for the party as a whole, left-wing radicals may show the most enthusiasm when it comes to caucuses and rallies and online meme-ing, but it’s not clear that any of that will translate to general election success. The Democratic Party depends on their radical base to an extent – no doubt about that – but it is not the force of electoral power that is, say, their strength among urban minorities. It is not outmatched by the power they have (or, used to have) with working class whites in the Midwest, “Rust Belt” region. If the party is to have any hope of staying viable on a national basis, they are going to need moderates to stick with them. It’s far from a certainty that moderate Democrats will vote for people like de Leon, Ocasio-Cortez, and other Democratic Socialists.
While this sounds like a winning formula for our side, though, we can’t help but be a little nervous. Yes, this lurch to the left may hurt Democrats in the near-term, but don’t underestimate the power of a rolling snowball. We’ve already seen how leftists can turn a fringe issue mainstream in the blink of an eye. Yes, there was a huge backlash in 2016. But like Obama always said, the arc of progress has a lot of back and forth built into it. And that concerns us. It concerns us to see polls that show millennials more willing to embrace socialism than capitalism. More willing to embrace hate speech laws than the First Amendment. And so on.
It’s tempting to cheer on these radical socialists right now, just for the pleasure of watching Schumer and Pelosi shiver in their boots.
But we’re not blind to the possibility that this could turn really ugly, really fast.