The American Left Resurgent: Prospects and Tensions

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1757 ... February 7, 2019

The American Left Resurgent: Prospects and Tensions

Rafael Khachaturian and Sean Guillory

The American political system is experiencing a crisis of hegemony. The moderate, bipartisan center that had been the mythical linchpin of American politics during the “long Cold War” is facing the possibility of a terminal decline. Donald Trump’s election has put this crisis into stark relief, having turned the Republican Party’s decades long flirtations with white ethnonationalism into an overt endorsement.

At the same time, the organized left is also resurgent. This revival was first exemplified in Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, and turned more durable with Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign during the 2016 primaries. Sanders’ social democratic message galvanized the Democratic Party’s progressive base, and spurred the rapid growth... and the electoral victories of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The DSA and other left organizations outside the Democratic Party have achieved the unimaginable by returning “socialism” to the mainstream.

The American left currently finds itself on unfamiliar political terrain. Interest in socialism is growing, especially among a younger generation. Outrage toward Trump’s racism and xenophobia, millennials’ anxieties about their economic prospects, and a deepening skepticism about the ability of establishment to address these problems has caused many to seek answers on the left. The American left hasn’t experienced such a rapid influx of activists and adherents since the 1960s.

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