Yglesias has had a couple of interesting pieces about the implications of the Sanders campaign on the Democratic Party. First, after Iowa:
Most of all, uncomfortable though it may be, Democratic leaders are going to have to make more effort in the future to convince their supporters that they are genuinely trying as hard as they can to deliver the things they promise.
On the campaign trail, Clinton likes to emphasize her decades of experience fighting for children, health care, the environment, and other progressive causes.
It’s a message that shows that she and her campaign understand what the voters they are trying to reach care about. They admire people who have dedicated their lives to fighting for those causes. Except it’s not quite true that Clinton has dedicated her whole life to fighting for these causes.
Between serving as US secretary of state and hitting the campaign trail, she made millions of dollars delivering high-priced speeches — often to for-profit companies or trade associations with interests at stake in political debates. She didn’t do this to put food on the table for her family, as she and her husband were already rich thanks to Bill Clinton’s own buckraking adventures.
Fresh from his win in New Hampshire, it’s now clear that whether or not Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination outright, he’s already won in another, perhaps more important way: His brand of politics is the future of the Democratic Party.
Sanders is the overwhelming choice of young voters, scoring a staggering 84 percent of voters under 30 in the Iowa caucuses and projected to do better in New Hampshire.
Any young and ambitious Democrat looking at the demographics of the party and the demographics of Sanders supporters has to conclude that his brand of politics is extremely promising for the future. There are racial and demographic gaps between Clinton and Sanders supporters, but the overwhelming reality is that for all groups, the young people are feeling the Bern.
Whether the first Sanders-style nominee is Sanders himself or Elizabeth Warren or someone like a Tammy Baldwin or a Keith Ellison doesn’t matter. What’s clear is that there’s robust demand among Democrats — especially the next generation of Democrats — to remake the party along more ideological, more social democratic lines, and party leaders are going to have to answer that demand or get steamrolled.
And while we’ve all learned enough hard lessons about believing in demographic determinism since 2008 to not take the implications of these primaries too far, it seems pretty clear that a large swath of the Democratic base has learned some other lessons–that of the Tea Party. The era of centrist Democratic decision making isn’t over–after all, politicians need that Wall Street money after Citizens United. But the base isn’t going to accept that and neither should it. The polarization of American politics means that the centrist swing voter barely exists anymore. Democrats should demand their politicians actually represent their preferred policy choices. Certainly young voters are demanding that and that’s driving the Sanders boom, despite his very real flaws as a candidate and clear electability problems in the fall.