You would not be wrong to look at the current efforts of the DSA, and the growing network of leftist publications and podcasts like Jacobin and Chapo Trap House, and see a reverse portrait of the modern conservative movement as a young ideology. At local chapter meetings, held not just in New York City and Chicago but in places like Wichita and Oklahoma City, veteran activists and newcomers meet to learn about and debate political questions—the very civic space that many routinely mourn as America’s having lost. Attendants are then called to put what they’ve learned into practice—or praxis, as a Marxist might say. This can be done on behalf of disadvantaged people in their own communities, or in national campaigns like the push for Medicare for All.

To turn the passion of those ground-level activists into transformative political power will require the DSA to continue growing—not as big as its detractors might think necessary, but a good bit. Should it do so, establishment Democrats could well find that the organization has the infrastructure and ideological coherence not just to mount real challenges to establishment politicians, but to rally a constituency large enough to challenge the liberal consensus itself. A constituency for socialism.