US politics puzzle Europeans. We have a two-party system, and the majority of Americans are deeply loyal to one party or the other – elections are decided by the 20 percent who’re willing to change their vote come polling day. The thing is, though, most of the time there hasn’t been a huge difference between the parties on most issues. That’s not surprising – they’re both descended from the same party, after all, and both of them have traditionally been what the rest of the world would call center-right. That might be changing, though. A lot of people are worried that the democrats might be moving to the left, out of traditional American political territory – and doing it pretty quickly. Are they right to be concerned?
- In the run-up to the 2016 election, 43 percent of Democratic Party delegates voted for Bernie Sanders to be their presidential candidate. Sanders isn’t even a member of the Democratic Party; he’s a self-confessed socialist, far to the left of traditional Democrat politics. Veteran journalists were astonished that almost half of delegates were willing to vote for such a radical candidate – and this shows clearly that the party’s membership has moved a long way left of where it was even a decade ago.
- Sanders plans to run again in 2020 – he announced his bid early – and he’s seen as a viable candidate.
- However, the odds on Sanders winning the nomination are a lot longer than they were last time round – and this isn’t because sanity has returned to the Dems. It’s because there are several other potential candidates who’re almost as radical as Sanders is. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are all way out on the left of the party.
- The party is also willing to put forward much more radical candidates for House and Senate races. A good example is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’s only been in Congress a short time and is already generating plenty of headlines for us. Another open socialist, with a viciously anti-capitalist agenda, she’s quickly become the darling of the Democrat grassroots.
- There are signs that senior Dems are starting to worry about this shift. Ocasio-Cortez was recently criticized by Nancy Pelosi and others over her apparent anti-Semitism – a common prejudice on the far left. She’s also attracted flak for her “Green New Deal” – a massive socialist program that would totally reshape the US economy.
- It’s easy to see why leading Democrats are worried about this. There’s a reason the US has traditionally had two roughly center-right parties, and that’s because most Americans want a center-right government. Moving to the left might attract naive students and crusty old California activists, but it’s not going to play well with the average US citizen.