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Takes a barrel of gall.

James Comey, the self-aggrandizer who Democrats blame for their defeat, is now trying to tell the Democrats how to run their operation.

“Democrats, please, please don’t lose your minds and rush to the socialist left,” he tweeted. “This President and his Republican Party are counting on you to do exactly that. America’s great middle wants sensible, balanced ethical leadership.”

As might be imagined, Democrats responded with scorn telling the former FBI chief to please shut up. “Last time you practised politics it resulted in a fiasco of historic proportions,” wrote Ronald Klain, former chief of staff to vice-presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore.

We recall of course that late in the campaign Mr. Comey reopened an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails with absolutely no evidence of there being anything culpatory in the newly uncovered batch. It was the campaign’s pivotal moment.

Another reason why Ms. Clinton failed is because her platform had all the allure of a drizzle. Vague centrist policy offerings. Contrary to Mr. Comey’s pitch, Democrats don’t want to make that mistake again. They want to show some claws. They’re moving left, eagerly so.

The question is how far? To hear some of them talk you would think Canada’s New Democratic Party had stormed across the border. Some are even suggesting it is going be Tea Party time on the left. An insurgency to topple the old establishment is in the making. The party’s hardcore, as with the Republicans a decade ago, will take over.

It’s not just the much publicized success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that has created the new dynamic. Bounding in from the ideological fringe, the 28-year-old Latina knocked off a 10-term party kingpin, Representative Joseph Crowley, for the party’s nomination in the Bronx. Her platform was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America. Noam Chomsky might have approved. The platform featured a universal jobs guarantee, fully-funded public schools and universities, housing as a human right, the elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the rejection of corporate money.

As evidenced by Bernie Sanders’ popularity, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is more than the flavour of the month. A rash of other strong left candidates have been doing well in nomination fights for the midterm elections by touting a similar agenda. Donald Trump has energized the Democratic Party, particularly the youth. If they’re not motivated by the outrage-a-day President, they never will be.

But Republicans are showing little concern over the prospect of their opponents veering portside. Washington-based Keith Martin, the former Reform and Liberal MP from north of the border who heads up the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, can see why. The Republicans will readily pin the socialist label on the Democrats, he says, scaring off much of the country from voting for them. “They’ll be an easy target.”

Being excessively confrontational or overly ideological has seldom been a winning formula for the Democrats. Party members might want to ponder what happened the last time they went the radical route. In 1972, led by South Dakota’s George McGovern, they were shellacked by Richard Nixon. Even though they were riding the anti-war tide, even though Nixon was Nixon, the Democrats suffered the worst defeat in their history, winning only one state, it being Massachusetts.

The party’s establishment is not blind to today’s budding rebellion. The eternal Dianne Feinstein, the powerhouse senator from California, has just turned 85. She’s running now for another six-year term. It’s never too late to learn new tricks and sensing the mood, the long-time moderate has moved left. On capital punishment she was never in favour of abolition. She is now. She was opposed to states supporting legalization of marijuana. She isn’t opposed now. But in a state that was 57 per cent white 25 years ago and is 38 per cent white today, she’s having a hard time keeping pace.

She and the party elders want to move leftward in measured proportion. But they can’t control the mood out there. The wrath is gaining momentum and given Mr. Trump’s unchanging propensities, given his destiny as a dynamiter, it will continue to build. The risk is that it could grow to the point where the Democrats’ traditional party structure will implode as it did with what is now on the heels of the Tea rebels, a Grand Old sham of a Party.

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