The Left Is Already Winning the 2020 Presidential Race

For the first time in 40 years, bold progressive policies are setting the terms of the debate.

Theo Anderson

(Design by Rachel K. Dooley, Photos via Getty Images)

The foun­da­tions of the estab­lished order are crack­ing. The day after demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ist Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez won her Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry, the Mer­ri­am-Web­ster Dic­tio­nary report­ed a 1,500 per­cent increase in search­es for the word social­ism” on its web­site. Over­all, social­ism and fas­cism have become its most-searched words, a telling commentary. 

On virtually every issue, opinion polls show that more than half of Americans support the progressive position.

The cor­ner­stone of the pass­ing era is hos­til­i­ty toward tax­es, reg­u­la­tion and pub­lic invest­ment. The era began with the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan in 1980, but it was a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dent, Bill Clin­ton, who expressed its mot­to most mem­o­rably. The era of big gov­ern­ment is over,” Clin­ton pro­claimed in his 1996 State of the Union. The white flag of sur­ren­der has flown over the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty ever since, with an all-too-brief inter­lude dur­ing Barack Obama’s first pres­i­den­tial campaign.

Per­verse­ly, it was a dem­a­gog­ic Repub­li­can who sensed the emer­gence of a new era and rode its cur­rents to the White House. He may be a liar and a char­la­tan, but Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion-turn­ing insight was that vot­ers don’t want small­er gov­ern­ment. They want gov­ern­ment that works for them — and not for cor­po­ra­tions. In addi­tion to xeno­pho­bia and white Chris­t­ian nationalism,Trump cam­paigned on mas­sive infra­struc­ture invest­ment, great” health­care for every­one, tak­ing on the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try and drain­ing the swamp” of polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion. Sim­i­lar (but authen­tic) plat­forms of robust pub­lic invest­ments and checks on cor­po­rate pow­er have turned Oca­sio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders into polit­i­cal sensations.

At least on paper, even the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty seems to be catch­ing on that cor­rup­tion — defined as the cap­ture of gov­ern­ment by wealth and spe­cial inter­ests — is the new big gov­ern­ment.” In May, Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship released a three-page plan for fix­ing our bro­ken polit­i­cal sys­tem and return­ing to a gov­ern­ment of, by, and for the peo­ple,” promis­ing to beef up ethics laws and com­bat big mon­ey influ­ence.” If these promis­es are to be any­thing more than emp­ty ges­tures, though, there is a long way to go. A May analy­sis by OpenSe­crets showed that incum­bent con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats had tak­en an aver­age of $29,000 apiece from lob­by­ists since 2017, while Repub­li­cans had tak­en $30,000. In August, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee over­turned a ban on con­tri­bu­tions from fos­sil fuel companies. 

Uni­ver­sal health­care is a case study in how the cur­rent sys­tem saps the ener­gy for push­ing major leg­is­la­tion through Con­gress. The major­i­ty of Democ­rats claim to want Medicare for All, but cen­trist Democ­rats, behold­en to the insur­ance and hos­pi­tal indus­tries, are con­tent to tweak Oba­macare; they only sup­port uni­ver­sal cov­er­age by some vague mech­a­nism, at some uncer­tain point. Pro­gres­sives, mean­while, began ral­ly­ing behind spe­cif­ic leg­is­la­tion in 2015: Medicare for All bills in the House and Sen­ate. Local chap­ters of orga­ni­za­tions like Demo­c­ra­t­ic Social­ists of Amer­i­ca (DSA) and Nation­al Nurs­es Unit­ed began push­ing for sin­gle-pay­er bills in indi­vid­ual states, help­ing move the issue into the nation­al debate.

That split with­in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, mul­ti­plied across a range of issues, is an unmis­tak­able sign of trans­for­ma­tion. The Left is in a phase of intense insti­tu­tion-build­ing sim­i­lar to that of the Right in the 1970s and 80s, with new and new­ly ener­gized think tanks — Demos, Data for Progress, the Roo­sevelt Insti­tute and the Democ­ra­cy Col­lab­o­ra­tive, among oth­ers — and an elec­toral infra­struc­ture made up of groups like DSA, People’s Action, Jus­tice Democ­rats, Our Rev­o­lu­tion and Work­ing Fam­i­lies Party.

This pro­gres­sive resur­gence is reflect­ed, as well, in the land­scape of the 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry. The five prob­a­ble con­tenders in the Sen­ate — Bernie Sanders, Cory Book­er, Kirsten Gilli­brand, Kamala Har­ris and Eliz­a­beth War­ren — have among the Senate’s most left-lean­ing vot­ing records, and they’re vying to dis­tin­guish them­selves by intro­duc­ing pro­gres­sive legislation.

Gilli­brand is the most strik­ing exam­ple, and the best mea­sure of where the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s ener­gy lies. Once a cen­trist, she has tacked steadi­ly left in recent years and is now one of the party’s lead­ing voic­es for the #MeToo move­ment and immi­gra­tion reform, in addi­tion to becom­ing an ener­getic eco­nom­ic pop­ulist. In April, for exam­ple, she intro­duced a bill to require that post offices offer basic bank­ing ser­vices, like check­ing and sav­ings accounts and low-inter­est loans. It’s a par­tial solu­tion to the abus­es of the pay­day loan indus­try that could help the esti­mat­ed 9 mil­lion unbanked” peo­ple in the Unit­ed States.

The effects of all this, as with the effects of the Rea­gan rev­o­lu­tion” of 1980, will take decades to ful­ly man­i­fest. But they will like­ly radi­ate out and reshape our pol­i­tics for a gen­er­a­tion and beyond. 

Val­ue Voters”

The Repub­li­can ascen­dan­cy of the past 40 years has been dri­ven by a net­work of insti­tu­tions bankrolled by wealthy donors and cor­po­rate inter­ests, har­nessed to the con­ser­v­a­tive movement’s pas­sion for a few key issues, espe­cial­ly its hatred of abor­tion, same-sex mar­riage and pub­lic edu­ca­tion. Over the decades, the Her­itage Foun­da­tion and oth­er qua­si-schol­ar­ly insti­tu­tions, in sync with pop­u­lar rightwing media oper­a­tions, have giv­en con­ser­v­a­tives a uni­fied agen­da and framed it as an apoc­a­lyp­tic bat­tle between good and evil. Broad­ly, the goal was to rad­i­cal­ly lim­it the fed­er­al government’s involve­ment in the econ­o­my and vast­ly expand its pow­er to leg­is­late Chris­t­ian Right morality.

In the 1990s, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic establishment’s third way” exposed the party’s lack of a sim­i­lar set of prin­ci­ples. The heart of the third-way par­a­digm was the idea that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty could sur­vive the lib­er­tar­i­an and val­ues vot­er” onslaught only by meet­ing the GOP halfway, tack­ing between right-wing inter­ests and the com­mon good. Bill Clinton’s most influ­en­tial pol­i­cy suc­cess­es, like the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, the wel­fare reform bill of 1996 and dereg­u­la­tion of the finan­cial ser­vices sec­tor, tend­ed to serve cor­po­rate inter­ests while betray­ing work­ing­class and minor­i­ty voters.

The Occu­py move­ment of 2011, which pushed eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty front and cen­ter, was the first sign of a tec­ton­ic shift in our pol­i­tics. The Sanders cam­paign of 2015 – 16 was the sec­ond. Both cast inequal­i­ty as a moral out­rage, with the same urgency and fierce­ness that evan­gel­i­cals bring to the abor­tion debate. Writ­ing in the Guardian, Sanders denounced oli­garchy and called income inequal­i­ty the great moral, eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal issue of our time.”

And it isn’t only about eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty. The nation’s moral imag­i­na­tion is broad­en­ing as inequal­i­ty writ large takes cen­ter stage. We know too much about the con­se­quences of cli­mate change, espe­cial­ly in the most vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties, for it not to be a moral issue. The same is true of access to qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion. The many videos of police abuse, the sto­ries of sex­u­al assault, and the protests and move­ments they spawned — #MeToo, Black Lives Mat­ter, NFL play­ers tak­ing a knee— have helped to gal­va­nize and focus the pro­gres­sive resur­gence, along with Trump’s demo­niza­tion of racial and reli­gious minori­ties and his pride in sex­u­al assault and misogyny.

The old per­ceived trade-off, between appeal­ing to a broad mid­dle of the elec­torate and hav­ing a trans­for­ma­tive agen­da, is becom­ing out­dat­ed as pro­gres­sives coa­lesce around ideas that speak to the peo­ple who’ve been exclud­ed from our sys­tem,” says Adam Lioz, polit­i­cal direc­tor at Demos Action. It’s an excit­ing moment in pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics, in that can­di­dates rec­og­nize that putting for­ward a bold plat­form is actu­al­ly the prag­mat­ic thing to do.”

This is how new polit­i­cal eras emerge. Just as the cap­ture of gov­ern­ment by spe­cial inter­ests in the 19th cen­tu­ry pro­voked the rise of the Pro­gres­sive move­ment, the per­va­sive cor­rup­tion of our pol­i­tics is now rein­vig­o­rat­ing it. The evan­gel­i­cal Right’s pas­sion hasn’t fad­ed, but its focus on sex and repro­duc­tion no longer dom­i­nates nation­al dis­cus­sions about moral­i­ty. To talk about inequal­i­ty and cor­rup­tion is to talk about right and wrong, fair­ness and jus­tice. We are all val­ues vot­ers” now. 

Trans­lat­ing pro­gres­sive val­ues and votes into pol­i­cy is the task ahead. That can seem like a near­ly hope­less prospect, giv­en the cur­rent make­up of Con­gress and the Supreme Court. But it starts with putting for­ward a strong agen­da to frame the debate. That’s what the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment did for the Repub­li­can Par­ty in the 1970s and 80s. Across a range of issues — notably eco­nom­ic injus­tice, cli­mate change, state vio­lence against minori­ties and cor­rupt elec­tions — it’s what the pro­gres­sive move­ment is doing for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty right now. 

Eco­nom­ic Injustice

With about 28 mil­lion peo­ple still unin­sured in the Unit­ed States — and with med­ical bills the lead­ing cause of bank­rupt­cy — the rad­i­cal inequal­i­ties of the health­care sys­tem remain one of the nation’s great moral fail­ures. The num­ber of cospon­sors of the sin­gle-pay­er Medicare for All bill in the House, HR 676, is a mea­sure of how deci­sive­ly left­ward the con­sen­sus has shift­ed. From 2013 to 2015, the num­ber of cospon­sors fell by one, from 63 to 62. It has since near­ly dou­bled, to 123.

The cam­paign for a high­er min­i­mum wage, led most promi­nent­ly by Fight for $15, has, since 2014, put strug­gles of min­i­mum-wage work­ers front and cen­ter, win­ning a $15 wage in at least 35 cities, states and coun­ties. In 2017, Democ­rats in the House and Sen­ate intro­duced the Raise the Wage Act, which would hike the fed­er­al min­i­mum wage to $15 by 2024 and index it to the medi­an wage after that.

War­ren and Sanders are the high­est-pro­file pro­gres­sive advo­cates in this realm. If either runs in 2020, they will help to set the terms of the debate. War­ren has already released a pro­pos­al requir­ing that 40 per­cent of a corporation’s board of direc­tors be elect­ed by work­ers, known as code­ter­mi­na­tion.” It would also require that social inter­ests, not just share­hold­er inter­ests, be a key fac­tor in cor­po­ra­tions’ deci­sion making.

Warren’s pro­pos­al has no chance of becom­ing law any­time soon, but it has plant­ed a flag for a rad­i­cal idea (in the U.S. con­text), attract­ed media cov­er­age, pro­voked dis­cus­sion and shaped the debate over how cap­i­tal­ism is prac­ticed. It’s a prime exam­ple of how ideas become main­stream, leg­isla­tive agen­das are formed, and a par­ty out of pow­er remains relevant. 

The same is true of a bill intro­duced by Sen. Bri­an Schatz (D‑Hawaii) to make edu­ca­tion at pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties not just tuition-free, but debt-free. Under the plan, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment would match the high­er-edu­ca­tion fund­ing of par­tic­i­pat­ing states. In turn, states would be required to award need-based grants that cov­er the full costs of col­lege. Schatz esti­mates that the cost of the pro­gram, if every state took part, would be under $100 bil­lion. The Debt Free Col­lege Act” has nine cospon­sors, includ­ing Book­er, Gilli­brand, Har­ris and Warren.

Cli­mate Change

A robust move­ment has coa­lesced around cli­mate change, includ­ing well-estab­lished orga­ni­za­tions like 350​.org, Sier­ra Club and Food and Water Watch, along with new orga­ni­za­tions like the Sun­rise Move­ment. All the poten­tial Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates agree that cli­mate change pos­es a threat to the future of civ­i­liza­tion, but the issue lacks the high-pro­file, pas­sion­ate advo­cate in the Sen­ate that eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty has found in Sanders and Warren.

Much of the pol­i­cy ener­gy is com­ing from the state lev­el and the House, where the Off Fos­sil Fuels Act, spon­sored by Rep. Tul­si Gab­bard (D‑Hawaii), is a ral­ly­ing point for pro­gres­sives. Food and Water Watch calls it the most aggres­sive piece of cli­mate leg­is­la­tion ever intro­duced in Con­gress.” The act, sup­port­ed by a wide range of social jus­tice orga­ni­za­tions, would tran­si­tion the Unit­ed States to 80 per­cent renew­able ener­gy by 2027 and 100 per­cent renew­able ener­gy by 2035. It has more than 40 cospon­sors. Ocasio-Cortez’s high pro­file will like­ly give it a boost once she takes office. Her plat­form calls for becom­ing 100 per­cent free of fos­sil fuels by 2035.”

Green New Deals” of var­i­ous lev­els of ambi­tion are com­mon in pro­gres­sive can­di­dates’ plat­forms. Randy Bryce, the pro­gres­sive Demo­c­rat who’s run­ning for the seat occu­pied by retir­ing House Speak­er Paul Ryan (R‑Wis.), calls for a fed­er­al fund that would pay work­ers to adapt exist­ing infra­struc­ture for cli­mate change. 

In Sep­tem­ber, Data for Progress released a Green New Deal plan that estab­lished the goal of cre­at­ing 10 mil­lion new jobs in 10 years through a com­bi­na­tion of pri­vate-sec­tor growth, work­force train­ing and a green-job” guar­an­tee: a fed­er­al oblig­a­tion to pro­vide a job at a liv­ing wage to any­one who seeks one. A YouGov poll com­mis­sioned for the report found that, all things being equal, 51 per­cent of eli­gi­ble vot­ers would be more like­ly to sup­port a can­di­date run­ning on a green-job guarantee. 

State Vio­lence Against Minorities

The Clin­tons’ new­found defen­sive­ness about their record on crim­i­nal jus­tice is one mea­sure of how pol­i­tics have changed. In 2015, Bill Clin­ton admit­ted that the three strikes” law he signed in 1994 had locked up minor actors for way too long.” Then, Hillary Clinton’s racial­ly charged com­ments about going after gangs and super­preda­tors” — com­ments made dur­ing a 1996 speech in praise of that bill — became an issue dur­ing her 2016 pres­i­den­tial bid. 

Demo­niz­ing immi­grants and peo­ple of col­or is inher­ent to Trump’s white Chris­t­ian nation­al­ism. But out­side of the GOP base, ris­ing aware­ness of the rad­i­cal injus­tices of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem have put Clin­ton-era poli­cies in a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent light. 

Influ­en­tial books like Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, cou­pled with the pow­er­ful Move­ment for Black Lives, have reshaped the crim­i­nal jus­tice nar­ra­tive. Har­row­ing videos of police vio­lence against African Amer­i­cans have awak­ened the nation­al con­science. The Move­ment for Black Lives, a col­lec­tive of more than 50 orga­ni­za­tions, has a wide-rang­ing plat­form that calls for the elim­i­na­tion of mon­ey bail, end­ing the use of crim­i­nal his­to­ry in deter­min­ing eli­gi­bil­i­ty to work and vote, and for an imme­di­ate change in con­di­tions and an end to all jails, deten­tion cen­ters, youth facil­i­ties and pris­ons as we know them.”

In the Mary­land guber­na­to­r­i­al race, Ben Jeal­ous pub­lished a 26-page crim­i­nal jus­tice plat­form call­ing for mar­i­jua­na legal­iza­tion, an end to cash bail, and the imple­men­ta­tion of a wide range of reha­bil­i­ta­tion and vio­lence-pre­ven­tion pro­grams. Andrew Gillum’s plat­form in the Flori­da guber­na­to­r­i­al race has sim­i­lar pro­pos­als. In Michi­gan, Dana Nes­sel won her pri­ma­ry race for state attor­ney gen­er­al on a plat­form that includ­ed pot legal­iza­tion. And Sum­mer Lee, in her race for the Penn­syl­va­nia leg­is­la­ture, called for an end to cash bail and to manda­to­ry min­i­mum sen­tences, and a mora­to­ri­um on new prison construction.

Pub­lic out­rage over the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) and Bor­der Patrol, the forced sep­a­ra­tion of immi­grant fam­i­lies and the president’s nev­er-end­ing demo­niza­tion of immi­grants have spurred broad sol­i­dar­i­ty with the immi­grant rights movement.

In Boston, Ayan­na Pressley’s win­ning U.S. House cam­paign pro­vides a case study in how the move­ment for racial jus­tice and the push for immi­gra­tion reform can come togeth­er. On crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, her detailed plat­form called for pot legal­iza­tion and sen­tenc­ing reform and an end to cash bail, preda­to­ry prison phone rates,” and state and fed­er­al fund­ing of pri­vate prisons. 

On immi­gra­tion reform, Press­ley sup­port­ed not only the usu­al items — block­ing fund­ing for Trump’s bor­der wall and end­ing enforce­ment and depor­ta­tion efforts by ICE — but more rad­i­cal and for­ward-think­ing poli­cies, like sup­port­ing migrants in their home coun­tries. The Unit­ed States has the resources and pow­er to help improve con­di­tions in coun­tries that com­prise the major­i­ty of forced migra­tion,” her plat­form notes. In July, three mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus — Mark Pocan (D‑Wis.), Prami­la Jaya­pal (D‑Wash.), and Adri­ano Espail­lat (D‑N.Y.) — intro­duced a bill to abol­ish ICE. They intend­ed it as a state­ment of prin­ci­ple and, as Vox not­ed, weren’t ready to be tak­en seri­ous­ly,” giv­en that the major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans oppose abol­ish­ing ICE and Democ­rats them­selves are split. House Repub­li­cans threat­ened to bring it up for a vote, with the hope of embar­rass­ing Democ­rats. The pro­gres­sives then announced they would vote against their own bill. But as with Warren’s plan for reform­ing cap­i­tal­ism and the more ambi­tious cli­mate change plans, such laws that push the moral enve­lope lay impor­tant ground­work for when pro­gres­sives and Democ­rats actu­al­ly have power. 

Cor­rupt Elections

Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Cit­i­zens Unit­ed deci­sion, the cor­rup­tion of our cam­paign-finance régime has been a high pri­or­i­ty tar­get for pro­gres­sives. Ulti­mate­ly, the pas­sage of any bold pro­gres­sive leg­is­la­tion relies on free­ing our democ­ra­cy from cor­po­rate capture.

Yet Trump, mad­den­ing­ly, has been more effec­tive at tap­ping into the anger and alien­ation it pro­duces than most Democ­rats. It was his most effec­tive cri­tique of Clin­ton; at their final debate, he taunt­ed her for fail­ing to sup­port cam­paign finance reform as a sen­a­tor because you take in so much money.”

Achiev­ing deep reforms will be a gen­er­a­tion­long strug­gle, giv­en rul­ings by the Supreme Court that effec­tive­ly legal­ize unlim­it­ed spend­ing to influ­ence elec­tions. Con­se­quent­ly, rely­ing on small­donor dona­tions and refus­ing to accept mon­ey from cor­po­rate PACs have become defin­ing themes for the new crop of left can­di­dates. It was key to Ocasio-Cortez’s break­out bid.

These self-imposed lim­its aren’t the ide­al,” says Demos Action’s Lioz. But they’re nonethe­less impor­tant. They estab­lish cam­paign finance reform as a top pri­or­i­ty, if and when pro­gres­sives have pow­er in 2020,” Lioz says. 

There is a 100-day win­dow at the begin­ning of an admin­is­tra­tion in which law­mak­ers can make a strong leg­isla­tive push. Because so many can­di­dates have made cam­paign finance a key part of their plat­form, they’re more like­ly to feel oblig­at­ed to move on it.

At the fed­er­al lev­el, there are bills to cre­ate pub­lic-financ­ing sys­tems for both House and Sen­ate elec­tions. In the Sen­ate ver­sion, can­di­dates who opt­ed in would lim­it their spend­ing to small dona­tions ($150 per donor) and grants and match­ing funds from a Fair Elec­tions Fund. Book­er, Gilli­brand, Sanders and War­ren are among the 29 cosponsors.

The Road Ahead

On vir­tu­al­ly every issue, opin­ion polls show that more than half of Amer­i­cans sup­port the pro­gres­sive posi­tion. The movement’s sig­na­ture issue, Medicare for All, has 70 per­cent pub­lic sup­port, includ­ing 51 per­cent of Repub­li­cans and near­ly 85 per­cent of Democ­rats, accord­ing to a Reuters poll.

But things aren’t so sim­ple. The entire GOP strat­e­gy is geared toward main­tain­ing pow­er and pass­ing laws with­out major­i­ty sup­port — through ger­ry­man­der­ing, vot­er sup­pres­sion ini­tia­tives, gut­ted cam­paign finance laws and the kind of norm­break­ing that allowed Don­ald Trump to fill Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court seat. Achiev­ing the pow­er to push through pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy will demand the kind of cre­ativ­i­ty, feroc­i­ty and inge­nu­ity that the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment has demon­strat­ed for the past half a century.

State bal­lot mea­sures, for exam­ple, are a vast­ly under-exploit­ed weapon in the pro­gres­sive arse­nal. Yet they’re the best hope for enact­ing pro­gres­sive poli­cies in red and pur­ple states in the short term. One of their ben­e­fits is that they increase vot­er turnout by as much as 9 per­cent in midterm elec­tions and near­ly 5 per­cent in pres­i­den­tial elections.

Vot­ers in Maine have shown how it’s done, cre­at­ing a clean elec­tions pro­gram in 1996, updat­ing it in 2015, and approv­ing ranked-choice vot­ing in June — all through bal­lot mea­sures. In Novem­ber, Michi­gan vot­ers will decide the fate of mea­sures to legal­ize recre­ation­al mar­i­jua­na and cre­ate a non­par­ti­san com­mis­sion to redraw polit­i­cal districts. 

These are small steps, giv­en the depth of the nation­al chal­lenges we face and the cor­rup­tion in our pol­i­tics. But that’s what rev­o­lu­tions, con­ser­v­a­tive or pro­gres­sive, are made of. Mil­lions of activists and politi­cians grind on year after year, with few vis­i­ble signs of progress. Thou­sands of can­di­dates run in what seem like rel­a­tive­ly incon­se­quen­tial elec­tions. Bal­lot ini­tia­tives achieve incre­men­tal reforms. Noth­ing much seems to change. Then a Novem­ber 2016 hap­pens, and every­thing looks dif­fer­ent. Under-the-sur­face cur­rents sud­den­ly become vis­i­ble. A new era is born.

Theo Ander­son is an In These Times con­tribut­ing writer. He has a Ph.D. in mod­ern U.S. his­to­ry from Yale and writes on the intel­lec­tu­al and reli­gious his­to­ry of con­ser­vatism and pro­gres­sivism in the Unit­ed States. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @Theoanderson7.
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