What the left really seems to want is a return to the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt — a New Deal 2.0 for the 21st century.
Don’t believe me? Consider the policy platform of the person who’s suddenly become the symbolic leader of the so-called democratic socialist left: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old candidate for Congress from New York City who won an upset primary victory in June against the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House. Ocasio-Cortez favors Medicare for all, gun control, campaign finance reform, tightened regulations on finance, access to higher education for all, significant cuts to defense spending, policies to make housing more affordable, and a federal jobs guarantee.
That list is obviously more left-wing than what we’ve come to expect from the Democratic Party over the past three decades. Yet there’s also nothing on it that goes beyond the policy agendas of mainstream left-leaning parties across the Western, liberal democratic world. Indeed, many of our allies already have such policies in place — and many center-right parties in those countries support them as well. That list is also perfectly continuous with the ambitions of the original New Deal, which was proposed, in part, to help forestall the emergence of a more extreme, anti-liberal form of politics from out of the misery of the Great Depression.