OPINION: Barack Obama’s Embrace Of Socialism Is A Troubling Sign Of Things to Come

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Justin Haskins Editor, The Heartland Institute
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On Monday, former President Barack Obama announced he’s officially endorsing congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist who is running to become the next member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 14th District.

In June, Ocasio-Cortez sent shockwaves throughout the Democratic Party when she defeated longtime liberal incumbent Joe Crowley, who many thought would win his race by a significant margin over the much younger and inexperienced Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez’s name was included on a list of 260 candidates Obama said he is endorsing in elections across the country this November. When he released the list, Obama said the candidates chosen were picked in part because they “aren’t just running against something, but for something—to expand opportunity for all of us and to restore dignity, honor, and compassion to public service.”

While it may not seem like much, the endorsement of Ocasio-Cortez is remarkable. Obama remains the most powerful figure in a Democratic Party that has been in the midst of an important internal battle since losing the House, Senate, and, most importantly, the White House in the 2016 election.

On one side are the Democratic Party’s shrinking caucus of moderate Democrats, who want to move the party closer to the policies of Bill Clinton and further away from those embraced by people like Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. On the other side is a growing majority of left-wing collectivists who believe that Democrats should embrace, rather than run, from a socialist identity.

Obama’s decision to back the far-left Ocasio-Cortez is a clear and remarkable sign that socialism is becoming the new normal in the Democratic Party—something that was once thought by many in the party to be unthinkable. Unlike many Democrats of the 1980s, Ocasio-Cortez openly calls for a single-payer health care scheme, “free” college education for all, the end of fossil fuels (to battle climate change), and a federal jobs guarantee.

As disturbing as all that may sound to those of us who advocate for free markets and limited government, these radical policies are just the tip of the iceberg. Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the United States.

 According to DSA, “corporate executives who answer only to themselves and a few wealthy stockholders make basic economic decisions affecting millions of people. Resources are used to make money for capitalists rather than to meet human needs. We believe that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own and control them.

In other words, the Democratic Socialists of America organization wants to end capitalism and effectively destroy property rights—precisely what Karl Marx spent most of his life advocating for.

Obama’s decision to endorse Ocasio-Cortez—and, by extension, her extremist views—should serve as a warning sign of what might be a troubling future for the United States. Should candidates such as Ocasio-Cortez continue to gain power within the Democratic Party, it’s entirely possible a full-blown socialist could end up becoming president in the not-so-distant future.

Bernie Sanders might not have been a fluke, but rather the beginning of a mutation of the Democratic Party, which is quickly abandoning the relatively moderate positions of John F. Kennedy in favor of the more extreme views of Marx and Fredrich Engels.

Socialism poses a significant danger to America’s economy. When economic decisions are made collectively and everyone in society is given wealth according to their needs and not their work ethic or talent, economic chaos inevitably follows, since there’s no reason—absent some threat of violence—for people to work hard in a world in which everyone receives the same amount of wealth.

The elimination of property rights isn’t merely a threat to America’s economic dominance, either; it’s also a complete rejection of virtually all the values evident throughout the Constitution, from freedom of speech to religious liberty to equality of all before the law.

Consider the following: If all property is collectively owned and managed (which is precisely what would happen in a country without capitalism), then what would Hindus do, for instance, if the collectively-owned agricultural industry were to decide to kill animals for meat? What would happen to the Roman Catholics in a society where everyone is part-owner of every birth control manufacturer in the country? What would happen to Mormons and the many Baptist groups who believe people shouldn’t consume alcohol?

When the majority in society has total power over the minority—an essential characteristic of socialism—then minority groups end up being forced to violate their deeply held beliefs. There’s no way to avoid this when property is collectively owned because the diversity and economic freedom commonly found in markets are strictly prohibited in socialism.

It may sound crazy, but this is where the socialists in the Democratic Party are trying to move the country. Of course, they don’t think economic ruin and violence will result from their plans—socialist revolutionaries never do.

Justin Haskins is executive editor and a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and the co-founder of StoppingSocialism.com. Haskins is the author of Socialism Is Evil: The Moral Case Against Marx’s Radical Dream. A digital version of the book is available for free by clicking here.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.