What Explains the Decline of the Left in India and its Resurgence in the United States?
Why the Left in India is facing an Existential Crisis?
The recently concluded General Elections in India all but cemented the emergence of the Right and the Centre Right while eclipsing the Left that has now been pushed into irrelevance.
Indeed, as the Modi 2.0 government settles into its Second Term, chances are that the Left would struggle to even have a platform to articulate their positions given that they secured only five seats among the entire house.
Thus, it would not be remiss to state that the 2019 Elections are a watershed and a turning point in the history of the Left wherein it is now facing an existential crisis as far as its identity and purpose of existence are concerned.
Even the opposition ran a campaign that veered towards a Centre Right Platform rather than a purely centrist or a Centre Left one.
Thus, it is clear that the Indian voter is now more preoccupied with the Neoliberal Dreams rather than issues of who gains from economic growth and why the majority of the voters do not care about unemployment and the dismal state of the economy.
Indeed, when national security and communal polarization take centre stage, it is clear that the Left is on the decline in India.
The Resurgence of the Left in the United States
Having said that, one must now turn to the United States where there is a resurgence of socialist ideas and given the fact that there never was a Left in the US, it is indeed surprising that avowedly socialist candidates such as Bernie Sanders and the newly elected Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who happens to be the youngest ever Representative in the House of Representatives, represent a variation of the Left or outright socialist principles.
As can be seen from the close fight that Bernie Sanders gave in the 2016 Democratic Primary Season and concede the nomination after a very tight race means that there is an audience for the kinds of view that Sanders represents.
On the other hand, AOC, who upset many leading contenders for the Seat that she won, represents a decidedly Leftist position which means that for the first time in many years, there is a resurgence of the Left in the United States.
This is very startling for many as the US is a Free Market Capitalist Economy with the most extreme form of Laissez Faire economic systems and hence, the Left making inroads signifies a new direction in the way the political winds are blowing.
What Explains the Rise of the Right and the Decline of the Left in India?
So, what explains the Decline of the Left in a poor country such as India and its Resurgence in a Rich Country such as the US?
To start with, India is now in the throes of a Demography Led Transformation wherein the Old is Rejected and the New is embraced by its Youthful population.
As one book argues, the Youth in India who she called the Dreamers aim for a materialist lifestyle with aspirations of social mobility, they find resonance in the Right as they believe that it alone can deliver them the much needed economic redemption.
Moreover, Modi is a politician who as one commentator put it, has a Millennial Instinct for Viral Content is adept at messaging his Views and reaching out directly to the large sections of society who are mesmerized by his personality.
In addition, it is not clear how issues such as Climate Change resonate with the Indian voter apart from issues such as Redistribution of Wealth.
In other words, the Indian Voters now want their share of the Economic Pie which is perfectly understandable and they see the Right as the Party that would deliver materialistic Nirvana to them.
Are the American Voters Turning Their Backs on the Establishment and Veering to the Left?
On the other hand, while the same issues also dominate the Young and the Millennials in particular in the US, the resonance is more with people like Bernie Sanders who struck a chord when he proposed a radical change to the problems of Student Loans, Climate Change, and Material Prosperity.
In other words, these issues and their solutions have been framed better by Sanders and AOC which in addition to their liberal stances on Immigration have won them many supporters.
Though the US is as polarized as India, the youth there are more engaged with Climate Change and Fair Wages that might one day find their way to India as well.
Indeed, the moot point here is that material concerns are common in both countries and it is the Aspirational Voter who reposes faith in whosoever appeals to them as having the best solution.
Moreover, the US is also experiencing a Delayed Trauma Release from the Ravages of the Great Recession of 2008 and as voters demand that the gains from economic growth should include them as well, they are turning to the Left as a form of repudiating those who they see as responsible for Dream Hoarding.
Lastly, it is too early to write off the Left in India or to become excited about it in the US. Politics is a cyclical process where roles are reversed and where the winners of toady become the losers tomorrow and vice versa.
Thus, in a few years time, one might very well witness the opposite of what is happening now.
On the other hand, the Millennials are here to stay and hence, any politician or party would do well than to ignore them.
To conclude, economics, demography, messaging, personality, and political maturity are the reasons why the Left is in Decline in India and Resurgent in the US.
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