Peter Beinart (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Peter Beinart is out with a major new argument in The Daily Beast about what the political future might hold in store for us. The headline writer calls it “The Rise of the New New Left,” and it begins by citing the recent victory of liberal populist Bill de Blasio in New York’s mayoral primary. “The deeper you look,” Beinart writes, “the stronger the evidence that de Blasio’s victory is an omen of what may be the defining story of America’s next political era: the challenge, to both parties, from the left.”
The argument is generational: that the class of politicians who govern us now take for granted that our ideological debates take place between the goalposts of Reaganism and Clintonism—as manifested not least in the case of Barack Hussein Obama. He notes how Obama established himself in The Audacity of Hope as a child of Reaganism (“In arguments with some of my friends on the left, I would find myself in the curious position of defending aspects of Reagan’s worldview”) with a distaste for Reaganism’s left-wing opponents—who enforced a tyranny of “either/or thinking” that only leads to “ideological deadlock.” Obama emerged as a true avatar of Third Way politics. But the Third Way was at its heart about embracing the dynamism of the market and denying the necessity of activist government to protect people from its ravages—and for kids today, the experience of being ravaged by the free market is their dominant impression of the world. Ravaged by usurious student debt. Ravaged by subprime mortgage scams. Ravaged by structural unemployment. Ravaged by the arrogance of unaccountable plutocrats. And on and on. So much for today’s kids embracing the Third Way.
They are also, he continues, less susceptible” to “right-wing populist appeals”: they are less white and less religious than the populations these appeals are designed for, and also “more dovish on foreign policy.” And above all, they are far to the left of their parents economically: “In 2010, Pew found that two-thirds of Millennials favored bigger government with more services over a cheaper one with fewer services, a margin of 25 points above the rest of the population. While large majorities of older and middle-aged Americans favored repealing Obamacare in late 2012, Millennials favored expanding it, by 17 points.” And “unlike older Americans, who favor capitalism over socialism by roughly 25 points, Millennials, narrowly favor socialism.”