Chaos in the Democrat Party is threatening the Blue Wave. The rise of democratic socialism is overpowering the ability of Democrat leaders to control its fringe element and is alienating moderate and independent voters needed to take control of Congress.
Political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, is generating national news for her aggressive support of radical policies. In media interviews, Ocasio-Cortez explains, “I believe that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live.”
Her philosophy is expressed in policy positions that include Medicare for all as the way to deliver health care, free college or trade school, housing for the homeless, and a federal jobs guarantee with a $15 minimal wage.
Ocasio-Cortez also backs abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and supports gun control, including an “assault weapons” ban and preventing members of Congress from taking money from the gun lobby.
Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of socialism is not an isolated effort. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pushed his version of socialism during his 2016 presidential campaign, and the momentum he generated is igniting a new wave of democratic socialists including Ocasio-Cortez and others, as well as the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The Democratic Socialists of America claims it’s the biggest socialist organization in the U.S., and it opposes “… an economic order sustained by private profit …”
According to the Associated Press, “There are 42 people running for offices at the federal, state and local levels this year with the formal endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America, the organization says. They span 20 states, including Florida, Hawaii, Kansas and Michigan.”
The story says that Democrat Senate candidate in Maine Zak Ringelstein recently announced he is a Democratic socialist.
The rise of democratic socialists shows a deep split within the Democrat Party. Democratic socialists are appealing to working-class people who are not connecting with the progressive elite Democrats such as California Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Ocasio-Cortez shocked Democrats with her stunning primary victory over 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, an ally of Pelosi who was thought to be her possible replacement as the top Democrat in the House of Representatives.
On multiple occasions during interviews, Ocasio-Cortez refused to commit to vote for Pelosi as speaker if the Democrats win control of the House, assuming Ocasio-Cortez wins New York’s 14th Congressional District in November. On “The View,” Ocasio-Cortez said the future of the Democrat Party is with the working class that is represented by Senators Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., not Pelosi. Meanwhile, Pelosi denied that Ocasio-Cortez’s victory indicated democratic socialism was gaining momentum within the Democrat Party, saying its appeal was essentially limited to that one district.
Not all Democrats are dismissive of the threat posed by Democrat socialists. A group of moderate Democrats recently participated in a meeting called “Opportunity 2020” in Columbus, Ohio, to explore ways to halt the rise of democratic socialism before it damages the party’s midterm elections and 2020 presidential race hopes. An NBC News story on the meeting quoted Democrat elected officials expressing concerns that the extreme policies such as Medicare for all and abolishing ICE would backfire on Democrats.
Former FBI Director James Comey, a registered Republican who is rooting for big gains for Democrats this fall, urged Democrats not to “rush to the socialist left” in a Tweet because of political backlash from voters.
The anti-capitalism plank of the democratic socialist platform is also a red flag for business donors. Business leaders know and understand the power of capitalism and don’t want to be demonized as greedy or attacked for taking advantage of workers.
Ocasio-Cortez’s inexperience is also a risk. During interviews, her lack of knowledge about key issues is becoming apparent. She made wild claims about the reasons for low unemployment on PBS, and Politifact gave her a “Pants on Fire” rating for her misleading statements.
She also traveled to Kansas to campaign for progressive Democrat House candidates with Bernie Sanders. While the progressive attendees cheered the socialists from the East Coast, it’s likely the extreme policy ideas promoted by the socialist duo were concerning for moderate Democrats and independents in the deep red state — and a rallying call to Republicans.
Democrats are suffering from a lack of leadership, policy proposals, and a coherent message. That void is being filled by the democratic socialists and radical policy ideas that will scare voters. Thus the “blue wave” is looking smaller by the day.
Dr. Tom Borelli is a contributor to Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @tomborelli.