Friday, September 13, 2013

Peter Beinart on New York Elections and Rise of a New Left in American Politics

For Peter Beinart, national political indicators are to be seen in Bill de Blasio's win in the New York Democratic primary. Beinart argues that for the last two decades, the American political conversation has been to a great extent a conversation between Reaganism and Clintonism, a conversation that, with its starry-eyed infatuation with terms like "capital" and "free" and "market," tilts ideologically towards the right. But a new millennial generation now coming of age, which has been disproportionately the victim of that starry-eyed infatuation of both Reaganism and Clintonism with the capitalist free market, is now shifting the conversation to the left: 

Economic hardship has not always pushed Americans to the left. In the Clinton-Reagan era, for instance, the right often used culture and foreign policy to convince economically struggling Americans to vote against bigger government. But a mountain of survey data—plus the heavily Democratic tilt of Millennials in every national election in which they have voted—suggests that they are less susceptible to these right-wing populist appeals. For one thing, right-wing populism generally requires rousing white, Christian, straight, native-born Americans against Americans who are not all those things. But among Millennials, there are fewer white, Christian non-immigrants to rouse. Forty percent of Millennials are racial or ethnic minorities. Less than half say religion is “very important” to their lives.

Beinart concludes that "[t]he door is closing on the Reagan-Clinton era." And he thinks it may be one Hilary Clinton who finally seals it shut.

And one can only hope for that sealing shut and for a renewed and thoroughgoing critique of the shallow notion that once we've waved around the magic words "capitalism" and "free market," we've done our moral duty and have no need at all to analyze what makes free-market capitalism moral--or, as the case may well be, conspicuously immoral.

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