It’s nice to have a hopeful argument, but I’m not sure I buy it. First, general principle- don’t rely on demographics. There’s a long litany of bad predictions based on the supposedly immutable political characteristics of supposedly surging demographics. Maybe that’s just a flinch on my part, but I can’t see where thinking demographics is on your side really helps. Assume it isn’t and work to make up for it.
Second, what I see is partly a general move leftward but mostly a collapse of liberalism, as it becomes clear that it both can’t and won’t support the progressive end of politics. Perhaps you have better ones, but for me the image that encapsulates this in all of its smugness, cowardice, and projected self-loathing is Paul Krugman and his readers being actually scared of Bernie fucking Sanders, of all people.
BUT I think at least some of this energy being generated by the collapse of the neoliberal order is going rightward. If the polling cited here isn’t picking that up it could be because the energy on the right will express itself differently than it has in the recent past. It would hardly be the first time the right reinvents itself.
So, superficially at least, liberals can point to a reenergized right — like liberals are now doing with Trump — and saying “you need us to stop them,” which is wrong but plays with some people. On a more structural level, I usually define liberalism as ideology that attempts to siphon energy from revolutionary and reactionary movements and channel it towards other ends, usually towards preserving or reforming a given existing structure (one of the reasons I have little patience for the “conservatives CONSERVE things, it’s right there in the name!” argument). A sort of apotheosis of temporizing.
The question is whether our liberals (or, to use the European phrase, liberal-conservatives) have the necessary adaptability to do anything with this moment. It’s hard to say, and my own loathing for establishment liberalism does not make me the best judge. Hmmm… I wonder if I could turn my coat and advise them on this for pay… academic job market is pretty grim these days…