Granted, the millennial generation does espouse more liberal tendencies than its predecessors, something that may endure (or maybe not; you can find polls showing young Americans as disinterested in politics and open to non-democratic alternatives as ever before). The Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements, which are gratefully (and in the case of Occupy, belatedly) being taken seriously by the political press, do offer opportunities for new thinking about race, justice, and the economy. He even misses a more tangible and in some ways more successful movement: the “Fight for 15” to raise the minimum wage to previously unthinkable levels.
But Beinart employs a kind of cheat code by separating out foreign policy (which is “following a different trajectory, as it often does”) from domestic policy, thereby sidestepping the chief concern of the Republican primary—and increasingly, the country. Just two terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, dwarfed in size by the attacks of September 11, were enough to make terrorism the number one problem facing America, with its highest percentage in a decade, according to Gallup. It’s hard to fully claim that America is moving to the left when the issues animating the public lean strongly to the right.
Even allowing Beinart to limit the argument to domestic policy, I think it breaks down when he extends his analysis from the general public to the political class.