Joel Kotkin, OC Register
Much has been written about the right-ward shift of the Republican Party, but far less about a mounting left-wing movement among Democrats. While the media tends to dismiss the right-wingers of the GOP as “wingnuts,” it typically refrains from categorizing even the extreme left of the Democratic Party in a similar manner.
President Barack Obama has accelerated this leftward trend in two ways. First, his administration, particularly in contrast to that of former President Bill Clinton, has laid the rhetorical basis for a move to the left by shifting the party agenda on social, environmental and economic policies. Clinton may have declared that “the era of big government is over,” but under Obama an ever-expanding federal government has become the essential raison d’êtrefor the party.
Yet if Obama’s soaring rhetoric set the stage, his weak record of achievement has sparked mounting concern among left-leaning activists. Obama’s success has hinged in part on the far-left portions of the party controlling their more-fevered passions, particularly about ever-increasing income inequality and bans on fossil fuel use.
But now many on the political left are openly critical of the president, notably for his close ties to the moguls of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. These moguls have been the predominant beneficiaries of his economic policies while middle-class incomes have continued to languish – and even fall.
This disenchantment can be seen among many professional progressives and their allies in the associated media. Michael Moore, for example, recently suggested that in the future Obama would be remembered simply for being the nation’s “first black president.” This disenchantment is also spreading to the Left’s grass-roots, with the president’s favorability ratings dropping even in such progressive bastions as New York and California.