The Socialist corner of the Democrats is growing and it is young, hungry, and violent.
Illustration by Selman Design; Photographs by Tammy Bradshaw, Seth Wenig/Associated Press, Mark Makela for The New York Times, and Jeff Swensen for The New York Times
On June 30th, Michelle Goldberg, an opinion columnist at The New York Times, published an op-ed, highlighting the recent growth of Democratic Socialist candidates upending many moderate Democrat incumbents in state Legislatures and even the U.S. Congress. The article comes several days after the shock defeat of "Joseph Crowley, a 19-year incumbent, chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party and potential heir to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi," by a 28-year-old democratic socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Since her primary victory, Ocasio-Cortez has been paraded by nearly every liberal talk-show and channel in the main-stream media, giving her a strong platform to project her positions on American issues and her socialist agenda.
Outlets like Fox News have tried to discredit her achievement, pointing out that a 28% turnout in the district is not a serious figure to giver Ocasio-Cortez a mandate on leading a socialist revolution within the Democratic Party. Other pundits have gone further and said that when she wins the midterm, which she will win because of the voter demographics of the New York's 14th Congressional District are extremely Democratic, Ocasio-Cortez will be lost in the sea of 435 U.S. Congressmen.
Although those comments may be valid, she isn't a lone wolf in this fight for democratic socialism. According to The New York Times, the Democratic Socialists of America (D.S.A.) "has exploded since the 2016 election --- when, of course, avowed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders ran in the Democratic primary --- from 7,000 members to more than 37,000."
Now, the D.S.A. is no a political party, but operates more like an activist organization. With that said, 37,000 voters isn't a lot to worry about, but that many activists is a figure that shouldn't be ignored, especially at the rate the D.S.A. is growing.
The leadership of the Democratic Party are taking notice of the growing influence of democratic socialists too. Technically the leadership has taken the threat seriously since 2016, when the Democratic National Committee, with the guidance and support of the Hillary Clinton Campaign, manipulated the 2016 Democratic primary in her favor. They were afraid of the socialist growth behind Bernie Sanders then, but it doesn't appear that the current leadership is opposed now.
In a recent interview on The Bill Press Show on Tuesday, DNC Chairman Tom Perez said that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "represents the future of our party." After referencing his daughters' "excitement" over her, Perez "praised her spirited campaign" and success in defeating the incumbent Congressman Crowley.
"...represents the future of our party."
If the Chairman of the DNC says that socialism is the future of the party, than the recent success of the D.S.A. shouldn't be shrugged off by pundits and columnists at Fox News and other conservative media outlets.
So why is democratic socialism on the rise?
The D.S.A.'s constitution envisions "a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships."
According to Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times, D.S.A.'s message resonates well with millennials. Although she didn't name the source, Goldberg provides survey data "that 61 percent of Democrats between 18 and 34 view socialism positively." In her op-ed, Goldberg claims that "the combination of the Great Recession, the rising cost of education, the unreliability of health insurance and the growing precariousness of the workplace has left young people with gnawing material insecurity...they have no memory of the widespread failure of Communism, but the failures of capitalism are all around them."
Goldberg's insight into and explanation of millennial socialists is credible and surprisingly moderately fair; she recognizes the "widespread failure of Communism" and doesn't condone a righteous view of the movement's positions and ideology.
You don't find that everyday in the opinion section of The New York Times.
National Review writer Jonah Goldberg, yes, another Goldberg, shares Michelle's opinion on the worldview of D.S.A. members, relating the "increasing trend of young people embracing socialism and far-left policies is partially attributable to the fact they have little memory of the Cold War," as seen on The Story with Martha MacCallum on Fox News. On July 2nd, Jonah Goldberg told MacCallum that "The Cold War is so far behind us...that socialism has lost its connotation and association with the rivers of blood that were spilled in its name."
"The Cold War is so far behind us...that socialism has lost its connotation and association with the rivers of blood that were spilled in its name."
It is an interesting statement, one that could be extended to explain the rise in white supremacy groups and neo-Nazi's. But, like anything in history and socio-economics, there are several variables to every equation and outcome. It can't be as simple as, millennials are socialists because they have forgotten the socio-economic and political issues of the Soviet Union.
Nevertheless, it can't be a coincidence that the rise of democratic socialism in the United States has coincided with the rise of anarchist Antifa, the alt-right, and violent incites from liberal pundits, artists, and politicians.
Is democratic socialism fueling these symptoms? Or, are the symptoms fueling the growth of democratic socialism?
According to Church Militant, a Catholic publication and online media outlet, "many Americans fear that radical leftists are threatening society, with as many as a third of the population concerned with civil war will break out within the next few years."
"31 percent of Americans fear that the United States might experience a second civil war in the next five years."
The article by Church Militant, was published on June 27th, bases it's arguments on political division and violence on a Rasmussen poll, conducted on June 21st and 24th, that found "59 percent of Americans are concerned that opponents of President Donald Trump may resort to violence...26 percent are 'somewhat concerned' and an additional 33 percent are 'very concerned.'
Rasmussen's poll continues to illustrate that "31 percent of Americans fear that the United States might experience a second civil war in the next five years...11 percent said it is 'very likely,' and 20 percent deemed civil war 'somewhat likely.'"
Regardless of what side you listen too, it is clear that the radicalized ends of America's political spectrum are rising and the tension between the two are creeping more and more into the public sphere.