Of the groups that voted strongly for Barak Obama in the past election, (women, minorities, young people), nearly half do not have a negative view of Socialism. This is an amazing statistic since we are talking about the United States, where Socialist is about as derogatory a thing as you can say.
It is also in stark contrast to the Tea Party movement, where a faction within the Republican party does everything it can to drag the party over to its radical views. Right now Republican leadership is doing everything it can to tame the effects of these people, all while they threaten to defeat any Republican politician in primary elections that doesn’t toe the line and adhere to their agenda. The Tea Party movement could wind up completely marginalizing the Republican party if they are allowed to have their way.
So why is there such a stark contrast between people in the major parties who hold more extreme views? The Tea Party certainly has a passion inducing issue with the government debt, (or more accurately the size of government, these issues get mixed up, but the argument has always been more about the size of government as opposed to debt). But Progressives were given an opportunity to have something similar to rally around when the Occupy Wall Street protests were going on, and income and wealth disparity isn’t more complicated than the size of government.
I think it may have something to do with fear. The Tea Party movement inspires so much fear in Progressives that they will support whomever they must to keep them from having power. They aren’t about to start quibbling over a Progressive’s credentials when the wolf is at the door. It might be easy to say that Conservatives are just as afraid, after all prior to the election it wasn’t uncommon to hear things like, ‘I worry about what will happen if Obama gets re-elected. I think this country may never be the same’. But that concern isn’t really fear, it is outrage. Since the election we have some Conservative talking heads like Mark Levin pondering how the country may be saved outside the election process, or others like Sean Hannity talking about how the Republican party needs to stay true to the TPers. These people are self righteous enough that the kind of fear which would allow them to support moderate candidates to avoid losing elections doesn’t exist, unlike for many Democrats.
And this is probably a blessing, let’s suppose half the Democratic party became so radicalized that they wouldn’t support any candidate who wasn’t in favor of nationalizing the banking sector and putting the bankers responsible for the financial collapse in prison, let’s suppose half the Democratic party wouldn’t support any candidate not willing to cut defense spending by 75% and open free day care centers. If this were to happen then Democrats would be facing the same hurdle the Republican party faces now, fractured, alienating a lot of the electorate, on the verge of becoming inconsequential. So really the Tea Party has done Democrats a favor, all those closet Socialists can bide their time until the old white capitalists, and their throngs of angry white guy supporters fade away, the revolution, the great shift to the left, can happen slowly.
Because that shift is occurring, the pendulum is finally starting to swing back. Obama’s election was close, so I don’t even count that, but what I do count is the poll I mentioned at the start, all the senate races that Democrats where supposed to lose but won, some with candidates that are far left, like Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin, and I do count the ballot initiatives that passed, the first popularly passed initiatives to allow gay marriage, initiatives to legalize marijuana. (I mean, really, marijuana wouldn’t have had a ghost of chance ten years ago). Would I like to have a government that slashed the defense budget to pay for free daycare? Sure I would, and I will be happy to fight for things like that, but I do that acknowledging that I am just staking out the far reach of the movement, and I am happy to look back and see the tide coming in behind me. It doesn’t feel so lonely on the far reach anymore.