Prospects for the Left in the United States are far better than they seem to most observers across the political spectrum (excepting those who fantasize imminent revolutionary uprisings spear-headed by 79-year-old sociology professors). The economic crisis has bitten hard and deep. Millions of people have been impacted by high unemployment and home foreclosures, by decreased job benefits and job security, and by the realization that none of these afflictions will end soon. A sense of betrayal is settling into the popular consciousness. People are coming to believe that despite their hard work and “playing by the rules,” a long-term decline is placing the American Dream increasingly out of their reach. And neither the major parties nor the resurgent far right (the Tea Party movement) offers anything like an adequate response to or program for offsetting that betrayal.

The economic crisis activated, intensely and very publicly, the...

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