American politics; like those in France, might be taking a sharp leftward turn. Such a swing would the biggest paradigm shift in U.S. politics in two generations and it would have profound implications for the entire world.
Despite the victory of Donald J. Trump and Republicans in November, leftists have actually been doing very well at the polls in the USA. The latest shocker was the special election to fill a vacant U.S. of House Representatives (lower house) seat in the Fourth Congressional District in Kansas on April 11.
Back in November Republican Mike Pompeo easily won the seat by 31 points. Yet just a few months later, left-wing Democrat James Thompson came within seven points of victory in the Fourth District. The seat was empty, because Pompeo resigned in order to take a position as director of the CIA.
Republicans in Trouble
Those results were shocking because the Fourth District should be safe territory for Republicans. It is white, rural, conservative and heavily Christian. Trump won it by a wide margin of around 30% in November.
Yet Thompson did very well there despite little or no support from the national Democratic Party. His Republican opponent Ron Estes needed help from Trump in the form of a Tweet and a recorded phone message to win, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Nor is Kansas the only place where Republicans are in trouble. In Georgia’s Sixth District Democrat Ossoff nearly won an outright victory in another special election, The New York Times reported. Ossoff was running to replace Dr. Tom Price; one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress. Price left his seat to become Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Like the Fourth District of Kansas, the Sixth District in Georgia is supposed to be safely Republican. No Democrat has won the Sixth District since the 1970s.
The Most Popular Politician in America is a Socialist
Both Thompson and Ossoff are leftists and they did very well in historically right-wing districts. Their success might be no accident, because there is data suggesting that American voters are moving to the left.
Self-proclaimed socialist and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) would have beaten Trump by 10.4 points in a presidential matchup a RealClearPolitics average of polls from May 6 to June 5, 2016, suggested. Real Clear Politics gave Sanders 49.7% of the vote and Trump 39.3%.
Sanders has become the most popular politician in America, New York Daily News writer Shaun King pointed out. King; who admits to having backed Clinton, believes Sanders would have crushed Trump in the election. There are some polls that support King’s contention.
Sanders was viewed favorably by 61% of the participants in a March 17 poll by the right-wing Fox News found. The same poll found that Trump had an approval rating of 43% and a disapproval rating of 51%. Around 32% of poll participants had an unfavorable view of Sanders.
These poll numbers and the recent Congressional contests point to a huge potential problem for Republicans. A large percentage of the Trump voters might have been leftists, intent on punishing the Democrats for nominating the centrist Hillary Clinton rather than the socialist Sanders.
Trump himself also adopted some of the same hard left positions as Sanders during the campaign. He opposed the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement and strongly condemned free trade in general. Indeed, Trump and Sanders’ statements on trade were often identical. Now that Trump is backpedaling on his trade policy, his popular appeal might disappear.
Average Americans’ Positions are closer to Sanders than Trump or Clinton
There are other polls that most Americans agree with Sanders’ positions on such issues as single payer healthcare, government subsidized college tuition and a higher minimum wage, King noted. The data supports King’s contention.
Around 60% of Americans favor single-payer health insurance system according to Gallup; and 54% of Trump voters liked subsidized college Inside Higher Ed reported. Around 66% of Americans support raising the minimum wage, The Huffington Post reported. Around 48% of them would like to see a $15 (€13.99) an hour minimum wage.
Sanders’ agenda of higher wages, single payer health insurance and subsidized tuition will hardly seem radical to Europeans but it is far to the left of most elected Democrats including the party’s congressional leadership. Yet as the polls above noted most Americans seem to like it. This suggests that a major upheaval of some sort is imminent within the Democratic Party and throughout American politics in general.
America’s New Left Wing Majority
It also suggests that national politics and policies in the United States are about to veer sharply to the left.
The results of the presidential election seem to point that way, the most Left-leaning Republican candidate (Trump) easily won that party’s nomination. Hillary Clinton was only able to fend off a strong challenge from Sanders by resulting to arcane party rules that gave a disproportionate number of votes to handpicked party insiders (the so-called “super delegates”).
Such a left-wing shift in U.S. politics has profound consequences for the world, because what starts in America does not stay in America. The free-market, anti-government, anticommunist conservatism of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan spread around the world. Maggie Thatcher was just one of many fiscal conservatives who followed their lead in trying to dismantle the welfare state.
Beyond inspiring the left in other countries; leftists in control on Capitol Hill or the White House would profoundly change the direction and tone of the U.S. government. The left’s agenda would include dramatic reductions in the size and budget of the U.S. military, nationalization of the health insurance system, the breakup of large banks, redistribution of wealth, increased income taxation, legalization of marijuana, stronger support for the United Nations, dismantling of the current global trade system, efforts to ban or severely restrict use of fossil fuels, expansion of the welfare state and radical interventions in the economy by government.
American politics are going through a paradigm shift to the left. The effects of that shift are going to be felt around the world.