The direct parallels between what has just happened in Britain and what is happening here in the United States are limited. Labour was driven from power five years ago and suffered an even more humiliating defeat in May. President Obama’s two election victories have kept Democrats in power in the White House.
Although Democrats have suffered humiliating defeats in two midterm elections in that time, they have not been faced with the kind of back-to-basic question about their philosophy and policies that Miliband’s defeat and resignation triggered there. And yet, Clinton has found herself struggling with many of the same forces on the left that just swept aside the Labour Party establishment.
Sanders, like Corbyn, has tapped into the economic unrest that remains in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, manifested in debate about income and wealth inequality and fed by resentment that the bankers whose actions helped trigger the collapse have paid no significant penalty, which average families have.
Clinton has tried to adapt. She is not clinging to New Democrat rhetoric, nor articulating, as Blair did, a defense of center-ground politics. Her rhetoric has tried to echo the times. Her policies have shifted less, certainly less than those Sanders advocates.Though Balz does not raise the point, one might also compare and contrast the Trump surge and UKIP (though the latter fizzled out when it came time to vote).
The public mood also has put a greater premium on authenticity, rather than skilled and practiced policies. Sanders is old school, rumpled and unpolished, out of the same mold as Corbyn, characteristics that are appealing to many people sick of packaged politicians. Clinton has yet to find this voice.
Conservatives are angry about what Obama has tried to do. Liberals are angry about what he has failed to do.