“It’s easy to argue that the American left is on the cusp of a great victory,” David Brooks writes in the New York Times. “The economic anxieties of the working class have gone unaddressed. The Resistance is passionate and politically engaged. Faith in capitalism is plummeting. Only 42 percent of millennials embrace capitalism, according to a Harvard University poll, while 51 percent reject it.
“The Republicans seem to be turning themselves into an aging minority party. Moderate Democrats are no longer a force. There are only two vibrant political tendencies in America right now: Trumpian populism and Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren-style progressivism. As Trumpism loses, progressivism will win.
“What can we say about the coming progressive regime? First, it will be a decisive break from the moderate liberalism of Bill Clinton and even Barack Obama. Second, despite some silly recent talk, it will not be Marxist.
“My sense is these ideas have been rejected by most on the left. It’s become clear, to those on the fair-minded left, that global capitalism has produced the greatest reduction in poverty in human history. The problems with capitalism are more discrete — mostly with the plight of the working class in rich countries.
“Moreover, there is no alternative. Economist Dean Baker has argued that it’s silly for people on the left to see the market as the enemy: “This makes as much sense as seeing the wheel as the enemy. The market is a tool, it is incredibly malleable.” It can be structured to redistribute wealth upward, or it can be structured to redistribute wealth downward.
“The goal for most on the left is not replacing capitalism, but reforming it to make it work better for all. That would involve two big tasks.”
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