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Once A Socialist Always A Socialist

  • Esha Sarai
  • Apr, 2019
  • 283
  • Americanism vs socialism

ONCE A DIRTY WORD IN AMERICAN POLITICS, SOCIALISM IS MAKING A COMEBACK, AND GUESS WHO? DEMOCRATS

For much of American history, socialism was a dirty word - more of a political smear than an accurate description of someone’s political ideology.

Socialism typically was confused with state ownership of the means of production, communism or even totalitarian governments. Socialist Party candidates struggled to attract popular support. At the height of the socialists’ popularity in 1920, Eugene V. Debs received roughly 915,000 votes in the presidential election.

But socialist ideas are increasingly popular in America, according to recent polls, to the point where Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination in 2020 are embracing economic, tax and social policy platforms closely allied with the socialist cause.

BIPOLARITY IN BLACK AND WHITE

‘There’s a nagging sense that we are being screwed here, that there are things that are not available to Americans that could be in a rich country like this,’ said Dr. Richard D. Wolff, an economics professor and author of Understanding Marxism. ‘So that there are some people like [billionaire Amazon owner] Jeff Bezos ... and the rest of us can’t figure out how to get our kids through their last semester of college.’

During his 2016 presidential bid, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-identified Democratic Socialist, mobilised a generation of voters seeking progressive policies like free college tuition and universal health care.

Although he lost the Democratic nomination to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the popularity of his policies has forced the Democratic Party to reexamine their more mainstream policies.

Even before Mr. Sanders declared his candidacy for president in February for the 2020 Democratic nomination, fellow presidential hopefuls had begun shifting further to the left with their proposals for expanded health care, tax policy and climate change.

A TALE OF TWO TRAGEDIES

Five of the six Senate Democrats who have announced their candidacy - Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mr. Sanders - have pledged to seek ‘Medicare for all’, once an unthinkable proposal for many Democrats because of its seemingly prohibitive high cost. Only Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has declined to endorse the concept.

SPEECH BUBBLE

‘Donald Trump and other Republicans persistently use the term socialism to denigrate their rivals’

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump and other Republicans persistently use the term socialism to denigrate their rivals - denouncing and mocking the proposals of freshman lawmakers such as Republican Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a former Sanders campaign staffer.

Mr. Trump recently tweeted, ‘I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called “Carbon Footprint” to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military - even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!’

Since Mr. Trump’s election in 2016, the Democratic Socialists of America, the leading national group of self-identifying socialists, boasts roughly 60,000 members, compared with just 5,000 in 2015, before Mr. Sanders’ first presidential run.

HEALTH CARE FOR ALL

Arguably the top issues for both self-identifying Democratic socialist voters and Democratic voters in general are universal health care.

When Mr. Sanders introduced a Medicare for All bill in 2013, he could not get a single co-sponsor. Today, a similar bill in the House, sponsored by progressive Republican Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington State, is expected to have over 100 signatures by the time the bill is formally introduced.

Medicare for All has become a litmus test for Democratic presidential hopefuls to prove their commitment to progressive ideas, according to political analysts.

But despite conservative and far-right opposition to the concept, 57 percent of Democrats have a favourable view of socialism, according to a 2018 Gallup poll TRUMP THE TERRIBLE

There is little consensus among Americans about what socialism means for American politics. Despite Republicans likening socialism to Stalinist Russia, the socialism proposed by left-wing candidates does not infringe on political freedoms, but instead advocates for increasing taxes on the rich to support policies such as universal health care, paying college tuition, and increasing the minimum wage.

‘Young people, particularly who didn’t go...

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