Election Brings Socialist Ideals To The Forefront


Sophie Coyne

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks to the crowd at an event

Lauren Cincotta, News Editor

As the country prepares for the next presidential election, Americans are hearing a lot from different political parties about their agendas for the future of the country. Beyond the traditional democrat or republican ideology, new ideas are catching on with young voters. When Bernie Sanders first ran for president in 2016, he introduced new socialist ideas to the public, particularly young people, for the first time. Following the 2016 election, in which Sanders lost the democratic party’s nomination to Hillary Clinton, the U.S saw more lawmakers who identify as democratic socialists elected to Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most visible of these lawmakers. 

Ocasio-Cortez has forced progressive socalist talking points to the forefront of American politics during her time as a representative. Her Green New Deal was met with much disdain for its lofty goals and support for government control over industries and employment. Additionally, Ocasio-Cortez is a vocal advocate for medicare-for-all, federal job guarantee, free public college, and tax increases on wealthier people. She is only one high profile politician to publicly advocate for these things. These beliefs are especially popular with younger voters and have reached the mainstream fairly quickly. Among the current candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have been the most vocal for several of these causes. But are these candidates true socialists, and what would a true socialist look like? 

Socialist theory is rooted in making everyone equal. They argue for government control of resources and government oversight of wealth distribution. In theory, a socialist feels that everyone should be equal and the government should work to make everyone as equal as possible. Socialism has historical examples in places like Cuba. The extreme poverty, oppression, and suffering under socialist states occurred because corruption and too much government control. 

Capitalism is different. Most first-world countries including the United States are considered capitalist countries. Private companies or individual s control industries and the government has little oversight. In this sort of society, people look out for themselves and aim to accumulate their own wealth. There is not much the government can do to protect those who struggle in this system, beyond U.S programs that were created by President Roosevelt under the New Deal, such as welfare. 

 Democratic socialism is different from both of these concepts.  This theory would work along with traditional the U.S democratic structure. The government would increase their involvement in programs that benefit equality. By passing programs such as the Green New Deal or regulating college costs, democratic socialists argue that their methods could reduce inequality and give more people a chance to achieve the american dream. This message resonates with today’s voters because many young people are eager to change the landscape to better their odds of success.

 Democrats that favor a more moderate position are against some of the ideas that Democratic socialists have raised because they feel that following these plans would rob people of their choices. Opponents to democratic socialism, on both sides of the aisle want to preserve the freedom that Americans have to choose things like health insurance on their own. They argue that too much government control of resources would hurt the development of the American dream. This dream requires hard work by the individual to advance in the capitalist society. This idea is complicated for younger voters. Rising costs for just about everything have made the traditional american dream harder to achieve for the younger generation. 

The current system generates more economic hardship for people who want things like a college education, or develop medical conditions throughout their life. Democratic socialism is not the government taking over every aspect of American lives. It is a movement that is gaining traction because of the struggles of modern Americans. It is the government establishing a support system to those who want to get a higher education, or pay for their medical treatment without going into extreme debt. Democratic socialism is the government adapting to the modern world and helping its citizens live more productive lives.