This Group Of Self-Described Socialists Is Growing In Numbers And Pushing Local Democrats To The Left

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Brandon Poulter Contributor
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  • A group of self-identified socialists called the Democratic Socialists of America have gained membership quickly over the past few years and established themselves in major American cities.
  • Democratic Socialists push far-left policies such as defunding the police, rent controls, defunding of fossil fuels and racial equity policies, according to their website. They’ve gained ground mostly in deep blue cities, pushing policies far to the left that even moderate Democrats oppose.
  • Democratic Socialists added tens of thousands of members to their group since the presidential campaign of Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders in 2016 and positions in local, state and federal governments.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is gaining steam in recent years and has been pushing the Democratic Party to the left, particularly in deep blue cities, advocating for policies that even moderate Democrats disagree with.

Democratic Socialists make up the left flank of the Democratic Party, supporting abolishing prisons, aggressive climate policies, rent controls and radical racial equity policies, according to the Democratic Socialist website. They’ve been aggressively adding to their membership over the past few years, as well as gaining ground in key deep blue cities such as New York City, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, calling for radical policy changes and opposing mainstream Democrats. (RELATED: REPORT: Left-Wing Presidential Candidate Who Wants Higher Taxes Owes $500,000 In Unpaid Taxes)

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 17: Democratic presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks on healthcare at George Washington University July 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The meteoric rise of the DSA came after the first presidential campaign by Democratic Socialist-endorsed Democrat Bernie Sanders in 2016, according to New York Magazine. The DSA had 6,000 members in 2015 but now boasts over 80,000 members, according to DSA Communications Director Chris Kutalik Cauthern.

Big cities in blue states are havens for Democratic Socialists, with a large number of them on city councils in deep blue cities. Recent gains in these cities for Democratic Socialists have pushed the politics of blue cities to the left.

New York City is a hotbed for Democratic Socialists, with at least six of the 51 members on New York City’s city council being Democratic Socialists, according to public statements and records reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation. There, they’ve attacked more moderate Democrats, like Mayor Eric Adams, who has proposed budget cuts for the city and who has also criticized Democratic Socialists and been involved with Twitter feuds with Democratic Socialist New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 26: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during a House Oversight Committee hearing titled “Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena: Implications on National Security, Public Safety, and Government Transparency” on Capitol Hill 26, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

New York City boasts Democratic Socialist and Democratic Councilman Chi Osse who has previously said, “A cis white man should not be the next speaker of the Council” and “Don’t trust white people with 0 friends of color in their circle.”

Osse has gone after Adams’ support for the police, frequently chiding the mayor. “Mayor Adams is choosing to invest in a militarized police force rather than in evidence-based public safety strategies,” he wrote in one tweet. Osse said on the “Resistance” podcast that his motivations for becoming a city councilman were his experiences at a George Floyd protest and his desire to fight “white supremacy.”

Democratic Socialist and Democratic New York City Councilwomen Tiffany Caban opposed Adams’ 2023 budget, calling the proposed cuts “dangerous and cruel,” in opposition to more moderate Democrats.

Los Angeles has at least three Democratic Socialists of the 15 members of the Los Angeles city council, where Democratic Socialists regularly depart from the orthodoxy, many of whom vote against budget increases for police departments, such as Democratic Los Angeles Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez and Democratic Los Angeles Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez.

Hernandez has called for abolishing the police, shutting down prisons and the decriminalization of hard drugs, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, police data showed robberies, burglaries, and thefts increasing in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has lost nearly 1,000 officers since 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Soto-Martinez and Martinez stood by the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors, in a press conference where she called on LAPD to stop responding to minor traffic violations, according to Los Angeles Daily News. Soto-Martinez also called it a “terrible mistake” when one of his staffers called the police, asking them to patrol the area more than usual to protect his broken down Lexus, according to the Fox News.

“For all of the working class to achieve collective liberation, we must constrain, diminish, and abolish the carceral forces of the state — from prisons and police themselves,” the DSA’s website reads.

Minnesota is also a hotbed for Democratic Socialists, with four group members holding local office there and three members on the Minneapolis city council, according to public statements and records reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation. Members of the Twin Cities DSA, which includes the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, have pushed hard for rent control despite Democratic Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey opposing the policy, saying, “I do not support a policy that has consistently proven to be counterproductive to housing supply and affordability,” according to ABC 75 News. (Democratic Primary Winner Declares Victory For ‘Socialism’)

The DSA also boasts five federally elected officials who identity as Democratic Socialists in the U.S. House of Representatives: Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Texas Rep. Greg Casar.

Positive views of socialism are down in the U.S. despite the DSA’s recent rise in membership, with 36% of Americans saying they view socialism somewhat or very positively, down from 42% in May 2019, according to Pew Research.

Adams, Osse, Caban, Hernandez and Martinez did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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