“They need to wake up and pay attention to what people actually want,” Ms. Conner said of Democratic leaders. “There are so many progressive policies that have widespread support that mainstream Democrats are not picking up on, or putting that stuff down and saying, ‘That wouldn’t really work.’”
.. Energized to take on President Trump, these voters are also seeking to remake their own party as a ferocious — and ferociously liberal — opposition force. And many appear as focused on forcing progressive policies into the midterm debate as they are on defeating Republicans.
.. Fifty-three of the 305 candidates have been endorsed by the Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, the Progressive Change Campaign and Our Revolution, organizations that have helped propel challenges to Democratic incumbents.
.. Mr. Brewer, who backs Gretchen Whitmer, a former State Senate leader and the Democratic front-runner for governor, said Michigan Democrats were an ideologically diverse bunch and the party could not expect to win simply by running far to the left.
“There are a lot of moderate and even conservative Democrats in Michigan,” Mr. Brewer cautioned. “It’s always been a challenge for Democrats to hold that coalition together in the general election.”
.. The pressure from a new generation of confrontational progressives has put Democrats at the precipice of a sweeping transition, away from not only the centrist ethos of the Bill Clinton years but also, perhaps, from the consensus-oriented liberalism of Barack Obama. Less than a decade ago, Mr. Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, derided the “professional left” for making what he suggested were preposterous demands — like pressing for “Canadian health care.”.. urged Democrats to recognize the intensity of “anger, fear and disappointment from people in our own party,” especially those new to the political process.
“They’re young, and a lot of them are folks that weren’t around or weren’t engaged when Obama ran for the first time,” Mr. Johnson, 36, said. “So this is their moment of: Let’s take our country back.”
.. primary voters have chosen candidates who seem to embody change — many of them women and minorities — but who have not necessarily endorsed positions like single-payer health care and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
.. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, a left-of-center Democrat who ran for president in 2016, suggested the party wants “new leaders and fresh ideas” more than hard-left ideology.
“Sometimes that may be filled by a leader who calls herself a Democratic socialist, and sometimes it’s not,” said Mr. O’Malley, reflecting on the political convulsion that touched his home state. “Sometimes it’s with a young person. Sometimes it’s with a retiree. Sometimes it’s with a vet.”
.. avowedly moderate standard-bearers, such as Senator Doug Jones of Alabama and Representative Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania
.. among Democratic stalwarts, there is a sometimes-rueful recognition that a cultural gulf separates them from the party’s next generation, much of which inhabits a world of freewheeling social media and countercultural podcasts that are wholly unfamiliar to older Democrats.
.. But within deep-blue precincts where Democratic insurgency appears strongest, talk of accommodating the center is in short supply.
The Progressives Who Don’t Hate Trump
Even Bernie Sanders has said not-unkind things about the president.
I was at a friend’s daughter’s confirmation party in eastern Long Island, N.Y. The family Volvo and the Tesla bore Bernie Sanders stickers, one from 2016 and the other from 2020. “The thing about Trump . . .” I began, and the father interrupted me: “. . . he’s not all bad, right?” he said. “I actually like some of the things he’s doing.” He mentioned North Korea and trade protectionism. He cast his eyes about, worried about being overheard.
My friend didn’t vote for Donald Trump and doesn’t intend to in 2020. But he doesn’t despise the president nearly as much as he—being a leftie—is supposed to. I hear that from a lot of my fellow progressives.
.. Centrists who supported Hillary Clinton go crazy when Mr. Trump tweets. His gleefully crass style drives them bonkers. His contempt for identity politics appalls them. Many progressives, on the other hand, are primarily motivated by economic and class justice.
.. That isn’t to say that the Bernie Sanders people approve of family separation or pretending that police brutality isn’t real. But left populists are not entirely unsympathetic to economic nationalism or stronger border controls. For them, American workers come first, and Donald Trump is the first (far less than perfect) president in most people’s lifetimes to walk that talk.
.. And the senator observed last year that Mr. Trump has “very strong political instincts” and knows how to “connect with people.”
.. party leaders will have to face an uncomfortable truth. For a lot of lefties, Trump hatred won’t be enough to get them to vote. They just aren’t that not into him.
.. If Democrats want a united front against the Republican, they’ll have to acknowledge that Mr. Trump has re-created the Reagan Democrat phenomenon among the white working class and its allies. They’ll have to do something to keep the populist left inside the tent.
.. Mr. Trump isn’t the president progressives would have chosen, but his appropriation of policies previously championed only by Mr. Sanders may prove to be a neat trick. He may neutralize enough of the Democrats’ left flank that he won’t be despised enough, by enough of the Democratic electorate, to bring about a wave election.
Teeing Off on Trump
When voters have to choose between left and right incivility, Democrats will lose.
“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station,” Rep. Waters said in her normal habit of discourse—a shout—“you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them.”
.. The media is calling this “the civility feud,” though the word “civility” looks quaint and innocent among this crowd.
.. Can the Democratic Party control its left?
.. History suggests that centrist and independent American voters become uncomfortable when the news is dominated, as increasingly it is now, by the left pushing politics by other means. Voters in the past have turned rightward for solutions.
.. Richard Nixon in part rode the “law and order” issue into the White House during a publicly disordered time. Ronald Reagan ran on order, too.
.. Eventually, Democrats saw they would continue to lose elections if they nominated left-wing presidential candidates like George McGovern or Walter Mondale, and so they turned to centrist Southern governors such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
.. Supporting Sen. Sanders’s Medicare-for-all option is now mandatory writ for the party’s 2020 contenders.
.. The national Democratic template is set: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is it.
.. The always-whirling Mr. Trump is capable of spinning himself off his gyroscope. What he has going for himself is that his opponents are crazed. Mr. Trump knows this, because he keeps feeding their mania.
.. Psychologists will study for years how a candidate and now president whose substantive threat to “our democracy” consists mainly of unprecedented boorishness drove normally temperate people into a frenzy.
.. When the right tips over, it mostly gets grouchy, spending its energies defining people out of conservatism. The problem for the Democratic Party is that its left wing’s frenzies can turn ugly. If politics doesn’t go their way, they go into the streets, or invade a restaurant to shriek at a cabinet secretary.
Over the past week or so, two activist groups in Oregon—Occupy ICE PDX and Direct Action Alliance—have shut down the federal immigration-service building in Portland. “If they arrest us on federal property,” said one organizer, “we’ll shut the roads down. You can’t stop us.”
.. if the choice is between two brands of incivility, the Democratic version generally loses.
The price of electing saviours in Latin America
ON JULY 1st Mexicans are set to elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador as their next president. Since they twice rejected him, in 2006 and 2012, by coalescing behind the opponent with the best chance of winning, that requires some explanation. Mr López Obrador is of the left, but he is a would-be saviour rather than a social democrat. Instead of a better future, he promises to return Mexico to a better, safer past of strong, paternalist government. He invites voters to trust in him, rather than in democratic institutions. As the last two contests showed, in normal circumstances he would not win.
.. But Mexicans are not looking for politics as usual. Under the outgoing president, Enrique Peña Nieto, they suffer rampant crime and corruption, and mediocre economic growth. Each day 85 people are murdered. Voters “want blood”, in the form of systematic punishment of corrupt politicians
.. Many think that centrist politicians have failed them and that things cannot get any worse.
.. Brazilians are in a similar mood ahead of their election in October.
.. one of the front-runners in the opinion polls is Jair Bolsonaro, a crudely authoritarian, misogynistic and homophobic former army officer. Brazil, unlike Mexico, has a run-off vote; Mr Bolsonaro may well figure in it but is unlikely to win it.
.. A recent poll found that 62% of respondents aged 16-24 would leave if they could.
.. It is not the first time Latin Americans have turned, in an emergency, to would-be saviours. In 1990 voters in Peru found one in Alberto Fujimori, an obscure former university rector. A political outsider, he was elected when his country faced a terrorist insurgency, hyperinflation and economic meltdown. When he sent tanks to shut down the congress two years later, polite society was appalled but ordinary Peruvians cheered. Mr Fujimori won a second term in 1995.
..Or take Venezuela. The collapse of the oil price in the 1980s and 1990s weakened a stable social democracy, hollowing out its welfare state, causing bank failures and exposing corruption. In anger, Venezuelans turned to an army lieutenant-colonel, Hugo Chávez, who had led a failed coup ..
.. As the oil price surged again, he became a popular hero. But long before his death in 2013 he had propelled his country towards its current feral state of corruption, brutality and penury.
.. Colombians in 2002 were suffering the tightening grip of the FARC guerrillas over much of the national territory as well as a recession and a banking crisis. They normally chose moderate presidents, but they elected Álvaro Uribe, an intense conservative who promised to be “the first soldier of Colombia” and to double the size of the security forces.
Mr Fujimori and Mr Uribe saved their countries, but in both cases there was a dark side. Mr Fujimori governed as a dictator and resorted to systematic bribery. Mr Uribe appointed officials with links to right-wing death squads.
.. When voters choose candidates they normally wouldn’t, the negative consequences are long-lasting. In Venezuela, Colombia and Peru these include political polarisation.
.. This lasting polarisation is what may face Mexico and Brazil. It is the high price that countries pay when the political establishment fails in its most basic functions of protecting the lives of citizens or preventing the pilfering of public money. When that happens, it is hardly surprising that voters look elsewhere. But the problem with saviours is that, sooner or later, countries have to try to save themselves from them.