For those looking for a silver lining in the disturbing rise of socialism among young progressive Democrats, one need only observe the abject fear the firebrands are instilling in the tired, old establishment politicians on the blue side of the aisle.
Display of Power
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has thrown his hat into the 2020 presidential ring. Hickenlooper made his fortune running several profitable craft beer restaurants. Yet despite his rosy business success story he has been disconcertingly timid about identifying as a capitalist in today’s Democratic Party. “I think it’s kind of a silly question,” Hickenlooper told CBS News in trying to evade the subject. He later added that he didn’t want to be labeled in any way and weakly avowed that the party is “a big tent.”
Hickenlooper isn’t alone. Expressing support for capitalism has become a dancing-on-eggshells affair for Old Guard Dems, which goes to show the muscle the younger progressives are flexing within the party today. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who are also running for president, have both taken pains to declare that they are not “democratic socialists” in the vein of a Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) but they were quick to denounce income inequality and drum up other AOC economic talking points as they did so.
Progressives unafraid to embrace the S-word say it is modern capitalism and not the tragic history of socialism that should be on public trial in 2020. “I think the question needs to be turned on its head. And I think it’s disingenuous to ask the question, but if you want to ask the question be prepared for me to ask you how to defend the kind of capitalism that we’ve been seeing right now,” political commentator Arnie Arnesen told Sinclair Broadcast Group. Arnesen mentioned rising income inequality and the loss of U.S. jobs to cheap overseas labor as marks of a “capitalism that’s out of control.”
John Carroll, an assistant professor of journalism at Boston University, believes these are the sentiments driving millennial affection for socialism. “Younger people have a different view of capitalism because of the economic situation many of them find themselves in,” Carroll told Circa. “You’ve got student debt, you’ve got the high cost of health insurance, you’ve got low wage jobs. All that adds up to a condition that young people want an alternative to.”
The face of young Democrat socialism does not hide her disdain for the current system. “Capitalism is an ideology of capital – the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a conference in Austin, Texas, stating that this mindset came at the expense of people and the environment. “So to me capitalism is irredeemable,” she bluntly concluded.
Taking It Further
Extinguishing capitalism completely is undoubtedly a step too far for most Americans but these young socialists embittered at “unfair playing fields” may be able to provide a salutary service to the nation by eliminating a certain high-profile group of crony profiteers along the way. Aging Dem dinosaurs like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have accumulated vast fortunes during their “public service” tenures. The non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics listed Pelosi as being worth a staggering $100 million in 2015, while Feinstein has seen her personal net worth reach $194 million, mostly through her husband’s investment dealings in China while Feinstein served on Senate panels that dealt with Chinese trade issues.
Older Democrats are quaking in their shoes over merely being asked if they are capitalists or not. Eventually, the questions are going to get more personal. The capitalism/socialism divide will then be best seen as a potent weapon in the generational war raging within the Democratic Party. It is a war the Nancy Pelosis are not winning.
This country most emphatically does not need socialism. However, it does desperately need to remove the corrupt politicians in both parties who serve the donor class ahead of the people they purport to represent. This begs the question: can one still celebrate the decline and fall of Swamp establishment pols like Pelosi even while decrying the self-described socialists who will be wielding the wrecking ball?