Summer Lee and the Democratic Party’s Journey to the Far Left


Summer Lee

Jonah Woolley, Writer

At 2:00 on September 21st, Obama’s 9th graders, along with select upperclassmen, were taken from their normal schedule to see a talk from Summer Lee, the Democratic State Representative-to-be in Woodland Hills. For most of us, this was no big deal; we just saw it as a free out from whatever our last class is, but to me, I saw something more behind Summer Lee’s fiery speech about education and her upbringing, a face of the change in the Democratic party.

It’s no surprise that American politics is becoming more divided and extreme, but most of the time when we talk about it, we think about Republicans. We think about white supremacists, Trump suggesting that we build a border wall, maybe Alex Jones going off the rails about some fringe conspiracy theory, but we typically never stop to look at the Democratic Party, which is also moving further to the extreme.

Just a quick comparison of Summer Lee’s policies versus Barack Obama’s or Hillary Clinton’s will show that Democrats have moved further left just since 2016. Obama, for example, supported fairly moderate ideas, such as strengthening public education, helping states moderate prices of healthcare, switching to cleaner energy and tackling wealth inequality. While Summer Lee does share some of these positions, she is very far left with many others, to the point that many socialist European countries are at, such as supporting single payer healthcare, free education through college and a $15 minimum wage.

The question now is why the Democratic party is moving further to the left, and the answer lies with Republicans. There is an undeniable correlation between Trump’s election and increasing Democratic extremism; as I stated earlier, Obama’s positions were quite moderate while he was a president, and this is likely as a result of the fact that his opponents, John McCain and Mitt Romney, were also much more moderate Republicans than current powerful Republicans.

The final question here is what effect this will have on American politics, and the truth is that this is actually good news for Democrats. Say what you will about political extremism, but you can’t dispute the fact that it makes citizens take action. During primaries this year, attendance for Democrats was 53%, up from 44% during the primaries in 2014, and considering the fact that primaries are usually overlooked by citizens, an improvement that drastic shouldn’t be ignored, as it probably means an even bigger turnout in November.

So, essentially, this is both a blessing and a curse for Democrats. While they are becoming more extreme, this is mainly a response to Republican extremism from 2016, and it means better turnout at the polls, and therefore good results for Democrats during a time when they’re in desperate need of some.