A. Barton Hinkle
January 8, 2014

Writing in Commentary not long ago, Seth Mandel drew out a nice point about the resurgence of the Democratic left: “Complaints over the last few years about the GOP being pulled to the right by conservatives,” he wrote, “were not about liberals’ desire to meet in the middle and compromise, no matter how much they might decry the supposed extremist drift of the right. What they wanted was their very own Tea Party.”

The Occupy movement briefly seemed to provide one, but it lacked the Tea Party’s staying power. Still, the passions that animated the Occupiers have breathed new life into the left, from the East Coast — where Bill de Blasio won election as New York’s new mayor on a promise to end economic inequalities — to the West, where Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative Party, won a seat on the Seattle City Council by campaigning for a $15 minimum wage.

Victories like those have inspired imitation: Several candidates in the Northeast have expropriated de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” theme for their own campaigns, and President Obama ended 2012 with a speech calling economic inequality “the defining issue of our time.”

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