September 2nd, 2018
It’s Labor Day.
It’s a good time to talk about democratic socialism.
Senator Bernie Sanders, of course, has been a democratic socialist since the 1960s. Back then, he was considered a progressive liberal, slightly to the left of LBJ. He hasn’t moved left: the country has moved drastically to the right.
Despite the best efforts of Democratic centrists and the corporate media, he did astonishingly well in the 2016 primaries, rising from a 3% no-chancer to a 40% existential challenger to the smug and somewhat tepid Hillary Clinton, forcing her to accept a compromise party platform that included fighting for a minimum wage of $15/hour and fighting for universal health care rather than the patchwork Obamacare.
She promptly abandoned both positions after the conventions, and millions of working and poor people stayed home. A small, but very stupid segment of Bernie voters actually voted for Trump. Clinton unexpectedly lost the rust belt states where Bernie ran well and where Trump pushed his false populism the hardest.
The lesson was unmistakable; there was a groundswell of support for leftist, New Deal-type policies. Not a bad compromise $12 an hour like Hillary wanted, but an indexed $15 an hour. Not the weak compromise Obamacare, far better than what America suffered under the old system, but far short of Medicare for all.
Democratic centrists will forget about workers’ rights the day after Labor Day: democratic socialists make it a centerpiece of their platform. Most importantly, they will stand up to the Republican fascists, the thieves, the liars, the authoritarians and the traitors that the captive corporate media keep insisting are “conservatives.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat incumbent House Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District. An unalloyed leftist, she called for a “political revolution” including higher education for all, gun control measures, an end to private prisons and the abolition of ICE. She won, upsetting Crowley, an eight-term entrenched Democratic centrist who was being groomed for party leader, another Democratic Washington General to the GOP’s Harlem Globetrotters.
People have gotten tired of Democrats who talk a good game about rights and worker rights, but are nothing but ineffectual foils for the out-of-control Republicans. She will win in November, and the media will express surprise. After all, socialists can’t win.
Except they are, more and more, as a growing revolt against the fascistic policies of the GOP takes root.
More recently, a Democratic Socialist scored a major upset in the Florida primary for governor. The race was seen as a contest between two tepid centrists, and Politifact ( https://www.politifact.com/florida/article/2018/aug/27/fact-checking-florida-primary-candidates-governor/ ) lumped the eventual winner in with the “also runnings,” dismissing him with just once sentence: “Gillum, an African-American who has emphasized his working class roots, has drawn the backing of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and the progressive wing of the party in a state that Sanders overwhelmingly lost in the 2016 primary.” A week later, Politifact hasn’t even updated that.
Andrew Gillum, of course, won. The corporate media said,“He can’t win, because he’s a socialist.” But he won. And not by a tiny margin.
He is African-American, and that rises the fear of the GOP to a blind racist panic. They look at what Fox News calls “Soros-backed Gillum” and see a potential Obama, only an Obama who isn’t a tepid centrist. Gillum looks as ready to fight for his beliefs as a cat with its back arched. He’s the worst nightmare the GOP could have.
His GOP opponent, Ron DeSantis, immediately unleashed some dog whistles marveling at how articulate Gillum is (He is definitely more articulate than the brain-damaged Trump) and coming up with the singularly oddly-phrased, “We can’t let him monkey this up.” Some neo-Nazis promptly jumped in with a truly vile robo-call that had a purported Gillum speaking in a minstrel voice while jungle noises sounded in the background. DeSantis promptly condemned the tactic, but the tone has been set. This is the party of Trump, a liar, a racist, a tin-horn dictator and a possible traitor, and the rot spreads from the top. And DeSantis describes himself as “A Trumpist, through and through.”
Gillum will win, and the media will be astonished. He’s a commie! He can’t possibly win!
Even the Guardian is playing that game, as they did in the 2016 primaries. Gillum, at most a New Dealer, is “Left wing”. DeSantis, a proud Trumperdoo, is described as “conservative.” Trump is about as conservative as a rabid dog.
The Democratic Socialists of America (dsa.org) describe themselves thusly: “We believe that working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few.”
I take a similar tack: People should not be existing to support the economy. The economy should exist to support the people.
They support strong unions, good wages, abolition of Citizens United, and Medicare for All. And they will fight for them.
If you share those beliefs, support DSA and other candidates willing to fight for those beliefs. The “Third Way Democrats” had their chance, and showed they aren’t willing to fight. It’s time to move on.
Be wary, however, of frauds, morons and charlatans. The DSA had one candidate this summer who claimed to be a Columbian immigrant. Turned out she was born in America, and while her father was from Columbia, he was naturalized before she was born, which made her memories of being raised in a remote Columbian village rather farcical. Every party gets those: the Dems had John Edwards, the Greens have Jill Stein, and the Republicans…well, the Republicans seem to prefer frauds, morons and charlatans. They are, after all, the party of Trump.
They are a danger, and gravitating to a weak center isn’t going to stop them. If you want to fight these fascists, you have to start right now.