The 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers shook the foundations of the global economy. Ten years later, the bank's failure and ensuing global financial crisis have fundamentally altered the Democratic Party.
On Sept. 15, 2008, the investment bank with more than $600 billion in assets filed for bankruptcy protection, sending U.S. stock markets plummeting. It was a major jolt in what would become the worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression. The post-2008 economic meltdown led to a spike in unemployment, a steep drop in equity values and federal bailouts for large banks and major automakers.
In the years following the crisis, an exasperated political left turned its rage not only on the wealthy bankers and corporations at the center of the storm, but also the politicians who liberals felt did not do enough to punish those responsible. The 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement mobilized masses in the world's financial heart in New York. The following years saw the rise of populist politicians such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent socialist who mounted a surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
After the economic mess, the Democratic Party undeniably moved left. That has made its officials more unabashed defenders of the government's role in protecting workers and consumers from economic catastrophe, notable Democrats and party observers say.
"I think [the financial crisis] has generally reinforced the confidence with which we leading Democrats defend a strong role for government. The importance of appropriate regulation," said former Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who helped to craft the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that became law in 2010. It passed when Democrats had solid majorities in both houses of Congress.
"The era of saying 'the era of big government is over' is over. No Democrat says that anymore," he added, referencing the famous phrase from Democratic President Bill Clinton's 1996 State of the Union address.