Despite the hysteria about the rise of the “alt-right” — a fringe movement confined mainly to the internet — the rise of the “alt-left” is a much bigger threat.
While there was no shortage of “violence” toward Barack Obama following his victory in 2008, the worst “violence” you’d see would be violent rhetoric. There weren’t crowds of masked protesters marching through the streets during Obama’s inauguration breaking the windows of stores, setting cars on fire, and assaulting anyone who could be identified as “the opposition.”
While some Trump protests have been peaceful (the post-inauguration Women’s March had zero arrests, for example), if we’re going to talk about growth on the fringes of the political spectrum, it’s on the left.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
The surge of activism sweeping the U.S. since Donald Trump’s election has energized the nation’s largest socialist organization, which has tripled in size over the last year to claim more than 19,000 dues-paying members. That’s a record for the DSA, which was founded in 1982.
The Democratic Socialists of America’s membership spike seems driven by three factors: younger Americans, who polls say are more open to socialism than previous generations; the 2016 Democratic primary campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist whose race ignited a grassroots following but also left bitter feelings about the Democratic Party; and the galvanizing effect that Trump’s election has had on left-leaning Americans, who have increasingly turned to grassroots activism.
I suppose there’s a silver lining in that a tripling of membership only totals 19,000!
There aren’t stats on the growth of decentralized far-left groups like ANTIFA, Black Lives Matter, and other highway blockers, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence for a rise in membership (or at least in activism). Their actions have shown that we should be a heck of a lot more afraid of them than the “alt-right.”
Although, on the bright side, there is substantial evidence that the kind of protest tactics that such groups use make people more likely to support Donald Trump.
[Note: This post was written by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]