Once widely regarded as a ‘taboo’ and a ‘dirty word’, socialism – especially Democratic Socialism – has apparently started to seep into the mainstream in recent years, in part thanks to self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. and New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
An August 2018 Gallup poll found Democrats had a “more positive image” of socialism than of capitalism, with 57% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents saying they had a positive view of socialism versus 47% who had a positive view. positive of capitalism.
Sanders will join Fox News Channel for a town hall co-hosted by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum on Monday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET in Bethlehem, Pa.
“Opinions on socialism among Democrats and Democrat-oriented independents are particularly important in the current political environment, as many observers have argued that the Democratic Party is moving more towards a socialist leadership,” Gallup noted at the ‘era.
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Socialism – a term that first emerged in the early 19th century, according to the Washington Post – has “meant different things to different people at different times and places, while maintaining a stable core of themes and purposes: social control (as opposed to private control) of the means of production, and of all the societal, humanitarian and politico-economic changes that this implies, particularly with regard to the freedom and autonomy of workers ”, wrote the columnist of ‘Opinion Elizabeth Bruenig in August 2018.
But what exactly does it mean to be a democratic socialist? And how did Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, and other politicians who align themselves with political philosophy describe its meaning to them?
Read on for a brief overview of democratic socialism.
First, what is democratic socialism?
Democratic socialism derives from both democracy and socialism, according to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) website. Political theorist and activist Michael Harrington helped form the DSA in 1982.
“Democratic Socialists believe that the economy and society must be run democratically – to meet the needs of the public, not to benefit a few,” the group says, noting that to achieve a “fairer society” , many “structures of our government and our economy must be radically transformed by greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.”
Democratic Socialists are in favor of decentralization; they don’t necessarily want to create “an all-powerful government bureaucracy”, but neither are they in favor of “big corporate bureaucracies to control our society,” the website reads.
Those who align with political ideology generally support pro-union politics, tuition-free public universities, universal health care, and using the tax money of the rich to fund welfare programs. , among other ideas, TIME reported in October 2018.
“[What they want] is not a violent overthrow of capitalism, but working within the system by legal and peaceful means [such as] electoral and social movements ”, then declared to the magazine Maurice Isserman, professor of history at Hamilton College.
What issues are the Democratic Socialists currently focusing on?
“Medicare for all”, strong unions and electoral power are three of the DSA’s current campaigns.
What did Sanders say about being a democratic socialist?
Sanders, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and now one of many contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, explained what political ideology means to him at a CNN town hall in February.
“These are not radical ideas,” said Sanders, 77.
“What democratic socialism means to me is to have, in a civilized society, the understanding that we can ensure that all of our citizens live in safety and with dignity,” he said. “Everyone should have health care. You cannot advance in this country, in this world, unless you have a decent education.
“We must, as a right, put an end to the types of discrimination – racism, sexism and homophobia – that exist. For me, when I speak of democratic socialism, what I am talking about are the rights of the ‘human rights and economic rights,’ he continued, before listing his policies – such as tuition-free public universities, minimum wage increases and universal health care – which he would adopt. if he was elected president.
What about other democratic socialists like Ocasio-Cortez, Julia Salazar and Rashida Tlaib?
New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, 29, echoed Sanders when he spoke to Business Insider in March.
“So when millennials talk about concepts like democratic socialism, we’re not talking about that kind of ‘Red Scare’ bogeyman,” she said. “We are talking about countries and systems that already exist and have already proven themselves in the modern world.”
“We are talking about single-payer healthcare which has already been successful in many different models, from Finland to Canada to the UK,” she added, before going on to say that democratic socialism enforces “basic levels of dignity so that no person in America is too poor to live.”
Julia Salazar, who represents the 18th District of the New York State Senate, is also a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, telling October, a beer-centric magazine, that she has been a member of the DSA for two years and that it is “committed to trying to build democratic socialism.” “
On a personal level, Salazar, 28, said that being a democratic socialist “means fighting to ensure that each person has the power to determine their own destiny.”
“That we all have access not only to basic needs, but also to what we need to thrive in society. Housing is a human right, not something that should be at the mercy of the market. Health care is a human right, in the same way, which should not be accessible only on the basis of income or status, ”she added.
Representative Rashida Tlaib, who represents Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, also spoke out on political ideology – telling In These Times in August 2018 “that means a strong partner”.
“When I talk about fairness, fair justice, I am leaning on a whole group of people who understand how the structures in place are set up against people, people of color and the working class. It helps me have an organization and people to lean on. It’s important to have that kind of partnership, ”said Tlaib, 42.
Democratic Socialism and American Politics
Isserman told NPR in July 2018 “This is the most important moment in DSA history.”
The group has gained increasing visibility in recent years, from around 7,000 members to 50,000 since President Trump was elected in 2016, according to a 2018 Axios report.
The growing membership, combined with great victories for Democratic Socialists, are strong examples of the group’s “growing movement”, the publication added.
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Are there models of democratic socialism in the world today?
No country to date has fully instituted democratic socialism, according to the DSA website, which noted that some countries – Canada, Sweden and France, among others – have withdrawn from political ideology in terms of health care, child care and beyond.
Republicans, in particular, often refer to countries where socialism has arguably spread – like Zimbabwe and Venezuela, among others – to discredit some of the group’s ideologies.
“Critics say the United States is a poorer, less efficient society,” Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University, also told TIME.