A declaration by the Democrats’ official candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maine is proof that the party’s infiltration by hardline socialists is continuing apace as the off-year congressional elections of November approach.
And while it is hyperbole to say that Democrats are embroiled in an ideological civil war, it is fair to say that members of the Democratic Party’s old guard are not happy about this leftward ideological drift.
This new realignment with radicals makes Maine candidate Zak Ringelstein the only major-party Senate candidate –apart, of course from Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate— to admit to being a dues-paying member of the small-c communist group Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Since it was founded in the early 1980s by socialist activist Michael Harrington, the DSA has had little impact on elections, but the popularity of Sanders, whom the group endorsed for president in 2016, is giving the group newfound political clout.
Ringelstein’s coming out as a revolutionary radical brings the number of DSA-endorsed candidates at the federal, state, and local levels to 42. The Left’s feverish disdain for President Trump has pushed DSA membership across America reportedly to the 45,000-mark.
Only a week ago, Ringelstein, who won his Democrat primary on June 12 with 67.6 percent of the vote, said he “wasn’t ready” to join the DSA, which is dedicated to the overthrow of American capitalism.
But apparently the nonstop media love fest for socialists in the weeks since a DSA member unexpectedly trounced a key member of the House Democratic leadership in New York made Ringelstein’s decision for him.
The June 26 primary election victory of 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over 10-term U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley has cast a spell over Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory on a utopian leftist platform of abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, imposing single-payer healthcare on everyone, providing free college education, guaranteeing jobs for all, as well as a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, made her a leftist folk hero overnight. DNC Chairman Tom Perez promptly hailed her as “the future of our party.”
Which brings us back to Ringelstein.
“I stand with the democratic socialists, and I have decided to become a dues-paying member,” he said. “It’s time to do what’s right, even if it’s not easy.”
Not easy? It couldn’t have been too difficult for Ringelstein to arrive at his courage-free decision. He was already DSA material before he opened his mouth.
Ringelstein participated in a staged publicity stunt on June 22, bringing toys and books to a child detention center in Texas and then refusing to leave after being informed he would not be allowed inside. He was being held on a criminal trespass charge. “Zak is now a political prisoner of the Trump regime,” stated the candidate’s Twitter campaign account that day.
Ringelstein was released early the next day. From Edinburg, Texas, he tweeted what amounted to a campaign advertisement:
I just got out of jail. Thank you for everyone’s love and support.
Let me be real: jail is terrible. But my experience was nothing compared to the children and families who are jailed indefinitely. Pray for them, not me. #mepolitics #FreeTheChildren
His campaign so far has largely consisted of hateful class-warfare propaganda, leftist demagoguery, and empty-headed clichés.
Previously, he released this statement:
I'm running for U.S. Senate because our democracy is under attack from the corrupting influence of big money. From income inequality to climate change to public education and more, issues that are critical to the future of America are being ignored because powerful people are paying our politicians to look the other way. Mainers deserve a senator who is going to fight for their interests, not the interests of campaign donors.
Now with his full-throated embrace of the DSA, Ringelstein can add the abolition of market-based economics and the destruction of America’s free institutions to his list of campaign promises.
Those who fancy themselves moderates among the Democrats are pushing back against the perceived hard turn to port being executed by DSAers like Ocasio-Cortez and other candidates for office.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) insists Ocasio-Cortez’s victory does not indicate a significant trend. "They made a choice in one district," Pelosi said. "So let’s not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that."
Pelosi rejects the idea that socialism is gaining ground among Democrats.
"It's ascendant in that district perhaps," Pelosi said in a reference to New York's 14th congressional district, where Ocasio-Cortez is running. "But I don't accept any characterization of our party presented by the Republicans. So let me reject that right now."
Joe Lieberman, the former vice presidential candidate and Connecticut senator, savaged the New Yorker in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
"Because the policies Ms. Ocasio-Cortez advocates are so far from the mainstream, her election in November would make it harder for Congress to stop fighting and start fixing problems," he wrote.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America, whose platform, like hers, is more Socialist than Democratic. Her dreams of new federal spending would bankrupt the country or require very large tax increases, including on the working class. Her approach foresees government ownership of many private companies, which would decimate the economy and put millions out of work.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t speak much about foreign policy during the primary, but when she did, it was from the DSA policy book—meaning support for socialist governments, even if they are dictatorial and corrupt (Venezuela), opposition to American leadership in the world, even to alleviate humanitarian disasters (Syria), and reflexive criticism of one of America’s great democratic allies (Israel).
The socialism that Ocasio-Cortez, Ringelstein, and Sanders cheer on doesn’t poll well.
A Hill.TV/HarrisX American Barometer poll published this week found that 76 percent of respondents would not vote for a “socialist” political candidate, compared to 24 percent who would.
The Hill newspaper reports that:
Although Sanders remains highly popular among Democratic voters (and Americans generally), in the American Barometer survey, 64 percent of Democratic respondents said they would not vote for a "socialist." Among respondents who said they voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election, 59 percent said they would not support a self-described socialist.
These data may be music to Republican strategists’ ears, but they are at risk of being misread. Republicans risk overplaying their hand if they assume that Americans are uniformly opposed to socialism.
After all, socialism is popular among younger Americans (even though a big chunk of them probably have no idea what it actually is) and a radical socialist named Barack Obama whose hatred of the values of his native land compelled him to promise to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” beat two GOP rivals to win the White House.
Americans are only one silver-tongued politician away from having a socialist in the White House – again.