By Kjersti McDonald
Health care for all.
Stronger unions, a living wage, guaranteed benefits.
Eliminating (or at least decreasing) income inequality by seizing the means of production and requiring businesses and corporations to take into account the happiness, wellbeing, and ability of their workers to support their families and lead fulfilling lives.
I’m not talking about Communism. And it’s not quite the near-utopia depicted in Star Trek. I’m talking about the Democratic Socialists of America.
If you’ve been even barely following the news this year, I’m sure you’ve heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic Socialist who beat 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley for the Democratic nomination for Congress in New York’s 14th district this June. It was the win heard round the world and has turned Democratic Socialism into a buzzword for pundits, bloggers, journalists, and social activists.
There’s been quite a bit of pushback, especially from ye olde Fox News and its loyal audience, not to mention the current administration and its cronies. Ocasio has been made out to be this monstrous Communist who will recklessly overturn our current economic and social systems in one fell swoop, should she convince The Millennials™ to jump aboard the Democratic Socialist starship.
And that might just happen.
It’s not like the ideals she is advocating for are that radical. We’ve been discussing most or all of them as a society for many years, at least since the New Deal era of his excellency, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. That was in the thirties, guys. This was a time where regulations for virtually everything were put into place, and it saved our country. That was socialism in a democratic society. I mean, it was essentially Democratic Socialism.
Ocasio’s platform does set out to tackle a hefty set of issues. Just to name a few from her website:
- A federal jobs guarantee
- Medicare for All
- Housing as a human right
- Gun control/Assault weapons ban
- Higher education for all
- Clean campaign finance
- Criminal justice reform
- Mobilizing against climate change
- Supporting the LGBTQA+ community
…… and more!
The Democratic Socialists of America take issue with Capitalism’s predatory nature, the vast income inequality it fosters, and the staunch refusal from corrupt politicians to do anything about it. The DSA wants to put the control of the economy back in the hands of the people, insisting on government control of current institutions that exist in the free market (like health care and higher education), and proposing that other industries be run through employee-owned cooperatives.
As a country that basically worships Capitalism as *insert higher power of choice*’s gift to civilized society, shifting our country’s framework in such a drastic way seems like the ultimate impossible feat. But although the DSA may seem like a bunch of idealists with their heads in the stars, they still prefer a pragmatic approach. Right on their website www.dsausa.org, they state that any shift in the right direction, however small, is one they will back, and that above all else, they aim to work with any and all leftists and progressives to start moving our government and country in a more fair and equitable direction.
If you haven’t seen it, “Where to Invade Next,” Michael Moore’s 2015 documentary, takes Moore on a journey to a handful of different countries where he finds these socialist values in action, and working…very well. Free higher education. Health care for all. Benefits like mandated paid vacation and maternity/paternity leave. Rehabilitation-focused prison systems. Equal rights amendments. Women in power. Decriminalization of drugs. Quality education systems that produce the smartest kids in the world without standardized testing, homework, or grueling, strict curriculums. Moore went on a journey to find the best of what other countries had to offer that America didn’t have, and he found Democratic Socialism. Despite your feelings on the guy, it’s a definite must-watch.
The seemingly-revolutionary ideals that Moore purports to steal for America fall in line with what you’ll find on Ocasio’s platform. And although Ocasio has certainly become the newest poster child for the DSA, she is not an anomaly. Julia Salazar. Lee Carter. Summer Lee. And more are coming.
There may be an unintended consequence from this dystopian pushback the right has dealt us these past couple of years, and that is that those Millennials™ who were seen as “apathetic,” “entitled,” and “lazy” are sick of the bullshit. Many are over the status quo and the corruption and the blatant disregard for basic human rights. And if people are looking for a movement committed to righting these wrongs, they might just find it in Democratic Socialism.