EDWARDS: The Democratic Socialists Of America Aren’t Winning Elections, But They Are Influencing Democrats


Lee Edwards Heritage Foundation
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The largest socialist political organization in the country, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), wants to turn the Democratic Party into the Socialist Party. And it seems to be making some significant inroads.

Earlier this year, the DSA officially endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been touring the country with another rising socialist star: New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Nov. 5 off-year elections were a coup for the DSA as well; several of their candidates won the seats they were running for.

For example, at the DSA’s national convention, the delegates addressed each other as “comrade.” They passed a resolution calling for the abolition of private property and the acceptance of public housing as “a human right.” They supported the centralization of our economy as set forth under the Green New Deal, which would initiate public ownership of all major energy systems and resources, i.e., coal, oil, and natural gas. Their code name for the Green New Deal, by the way, is the Red Deal.

Sanders is their candidate, first, last and always. If he does not win the nomination, they say they won’t endorse another candidate, attesting to their ideological purity. The long-range goal of the more radical socialists is to leave the Democratic Party and establish their own electoral and political infrastructure. More “moderate” democratic socialists would be content to make Sanders’ socialist reforms a permanent part of the Democratic Party, that is, to turn the Democratic Party into the Socialist Party.

The DSA’s foreign policy is a grab-bag of leftist and anti-nationalist clichés. They would have the United States approve the Iran nuclear deal, end sanctions on Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, honor the Paris climate accords, and reverse recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The DSA convention called for self-determination and full sovereignty for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and all “indigenous” nations.

Convention delegates encouraged DSA members to seek jobs in key industries like K-12 public schools, and health care to multiply rather than “scatter our efforts.” They approved the abolition of ICE and all forms of border protection as well as the “uninhibited transnational movement of peoples.” They endorsed reparations for African Americans and the 1619 Project, which distorts U.S. history and the story of American blacks beyond belief. They endorsed universal voting rights and the elimination of Voter ID laws, full amnesty for all asylum seekers and a pathway to citizenship for all non-citizen residents. And to demonstrate just how democratic they are, they excluded law enforcement officers from DSA membership.

Although denying any connection to the socialism of the former Soviet Union and North Korea, large posters of Karl Marx decorated the convention, and Marx was frequently cited by delegates. Delegates also cited recent national surveys that indicated four in 10 Americans have a positive view of socialism. But they failed to mention that most respondents were unable to define socialism and did not know that the first law of socialism is, “Abolish private property.”

Socialists and their fellow travelers do not want to accept the fact that Israel, India, and the United Kingdom all traveled the socialist road after World War II but rejected socialism for the simplest of reasons: It did not work. As soon as these quite different nations turned capitalist, they entered an era of significant economic growth and widespread individual prosperity. India, for example, now has the largest middle-class in the free world.

Many radical resolutions were passed and many fiery speeches were made at the DSA convention, but few bothered to ask the essential question: “How much is this going to cost and who is going to pay for it?” Sanders has said he is going to tax “the 1 percent,” but all the taxes of all the billionaires and all the corporations in America would not cover the estimated $27 trillion cost of Sanders’ budget.

In its attempt to create a socialist paradise, the DSA will inevitably come up against Margaret Thatcher’s common sense appraisal: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Lee Edwards, Ph.D., is the distinguished fellow in Conservative Thought in the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation. He is the author of several books on the history of conservatism, including “Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution.”

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