Harold Meyeson, American Prospect - A generation gap as wide as the Grand Canyon seems to be opening up in the Democratic Party and American liberalism more generally. To some in the opposing camps, the divisions appear rooted in incompatible ideologies and counterposed strategic conceptions of how to promote the progressive cause. Look more closely, however—as both sides must—and the divide appears less fundamental, less socialism-versus-liberalism, less idealism-versus-pragmatism. The Democratic Party as a whole is moving left, but at two different speeds. What makes these differences seem so intense is less a sharp clash of beliefs, and more that the divisions have emerged in the course of an almost unimaginably high-stakes presidential contest.
There have been presidential campaigns before whose supporters at least appeared to be disproportionately young. Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 challenge to Lyndon Johnson over the Vietnam War was dubbed “the Children’s Crusade.” .... But no campaign has commanded quite so high a share of young people’s support (more precisely, young Democrats’ support) as that of the Vermont democratic socialist.
As mysterious as this may seem to countless political observers, “Berniemania” should come as no surprise. For the past half decade, there’s been increasing evidence of a leftward turn among Democrats and the young. There was the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose activists were overwhelmingly young and whose message polled positively—even if people’s reactions to the protesters themselves were mixed. There have been Black Lives Matter and the Dreamers—again, movements chiefly of the young. There’s been the Fight for $15, a minimum-wage movement primarily of young minority workers in dead-end jobs.
More broadly, there’s been the emergence of a distinct civic left, as the nation’s big cities have come under Democratic control. Today, 27 of the nation’s 30 largest cities have Democratic mayors, the greatest partisan imbalance, possibly, since before the advent of Jacksonian democracy. Not all Democratic city governments are notably progressive, as the example of Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel makes clear. But those cities that are have enacted minimum-wage hikes; mandated paid sick days; “banned the box” requiring job applicants to disclose arrests; cracked down on wage theft; and, in Seattle, given collective-bargaining rights to independent contractors. Even Emanuel saw fit to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 per hour.