Democratic Socialists: They Are Not Just the Fringe Anymore

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

As conservatives, we love to make fun of people like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Sanders spending his honeymoon in the former Soviet Union and AOC’s goofy ideas like the “Green New Deal” are the stuff that give conservatives endless giggles. But after Republicans and conservatives are done chuckling at their ridiculous notions, we would do well to pay some attention to this group of people. We can no longer just dismiss them as “fringe,” and their influence is being felt across the nation—not a good prospect on the verge of an election year.


The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have been around in some form or other since the days of the Vietnam War. But it was Bernie Sanders and his run for President in 2016 that brought the DSA into modern political discussion. In 2016, Sanders got a bigger percentage of the vote from Americans under 30 than both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But Democrat Socialists like Bernie Sanders are not going away. In fact, it is a movement that is gaining momentum. So much so, that if there is such a thing as a “moderate” Democrat still around, their numbers are being dwarfed by the Democratic Socialists who are giving the Democrat Party as a whole a giant shove to the left. In 2014, the DSA claimed around 6,500 members. By election day 2016, that number had risen to 8,500 members. By July 2017, membership had ballooned to 24,000. Today, according to DSA Communications Director Chris Kutalik Cauthern, membership in the DSA is roughly 80,000.

Cities in states that are historically Democrat have been the first to fall prey to Democrat Socialist policies. Defunding the police, rent controls, doing away with fossil fuels, and racial equity policies are high on the list of Democrat Socialist priorities. In New York City, of 51 City Council members, at least six identify as Democratic Socialists. Even that small number has caused a bit of in-fighting. They have been critics of Mayor Eric Adams and his proposed budget cuts for the city, and had some online run-ins with Ocasio-Cortez. Another Democratic Socialist Council member made several anti-white statements.


Los Angeles is another city in the clutches of Democrat Socialists. Three of that city’s 15 Council members say they are Democrat Socialists. They have called for shutting down prisons and decriminalization of hard drugs. While crime in L.A. is reported to be down, data shows that black women and girls are at the most risk of being crime victims. The Los Angeles Police Department says they plan to hire more officers. Minneapolis is yet another place where Democratic Socialists have a stranglehold on the city where there are three Democrat Socialists on the 13-member City Council. Following the death of George Floyd, then-City Council President Lisa Bender declared, “We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe.” Democrat Socialists also pushed for rent control, despite Mayor Jacob Frey being against it.

Of course, this trend is not just locally. Among the 435 members of the House of Representatives, five identify as Democratic Socialists. In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Cori Bush (D-MO), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), and Greg Casar (D-TX). It has been thought that President Joe Biden has made a significant shift to appease the progressive left. Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed President Joe Biden’s run for a second term, although many like her have been disappointed that Biden has not made good on some of the left’s and Democrat Socialist’s wish list ideas.


Even though the DSA’s membership has risen, Americans’ view of socialism overall has dropped, from 42 percent in May of 2019, down to 36 percent in September of 2022, Democrat Socialists continue to get elected. A quick look at the DSA website makes no bones about what their agenda is. It is a collection of massive government programs, with no real answer except “tax the rich” as an answer as to how to pay for it all. It includes defunding the police, social and economic justice, a.k.a. wealth redistribution, and green new deal control and regulation. Republicans and conservatives are more than welcome to point at them and laugh, but we underestimate them at our own—and the country’s—peril.

There is already a House Progressive Caucus; how long until there is a House Democratic Socialist Caucus?



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