Ever since Ronald Reagan, the Democrats have been tarred and feathered as the party of "tax and spend" and "big government". This line of attack will only get worse with Bernie Sanders' long time association with Democratic Socialism.
Unless Democrats present a more flexible, forward looking agenda, one that effectively deflects the worst political fears of the middle classes than they will surely loose in the upcoming election cycle.
One of the most disastrous political moves of socialist parties of all kinds and of all places in the twentieth century was their association and, in its most extreme form, identification with the state.
Socialist platforms and policies that aligned themselves with the state through massive expansion of state power, more often than not through self-serving bureaucracies, have had a mixed record of historical success.
It should be recalled that one aspect of Marxian thought was that society would pass into socialism from a state of advanced capitalism. Thus, in the Twenty-First century, socialists should be looking for ways to harness the dynamism of capitalism rather than seeking ways to perfunctorily and self-defeatingly dampen it.
Arguably, the present state of the forces of production are ample, deep, and innovative. It is not necessarily an inexorable contradiction to currently use the profit motive to further socially desirable ends. Increasing overall state power and its societal penetration, inordinate taxation, and the creation of new bureaucracies are not the only way to achieve social and economic transformational justice.
There are other ways. For example, a Green New Deal could be constructed through a mix of progressive legislation, economic incentives in the form of tax breaks and research subsidies, and a general coordination of government economic policy particularly in research and development with private business and industry. In this way, tax rates would only have to register a marginal increase and the creation and expansion of bureaucratic power would be kept to a minimum.
The American people must be made to understand that there is nothing inherently progressive and/or socialist in the expansion of state power and exorbitant taxation. Modern day progressives must think out of the box and present new ideas of progressive politics that utilize the inherent dynamic elements of present day capitalism to further societal ends.
Thus the way forward cannot just be progressive politics as usual but must include the successful political presentation and implementation of various platforms and methods offering a new vision of "lean progressivism".