+“Socialism debate roils Democratic primary” | The Hill | Johnathan Easley
“Three low-polling contenders – former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) and former Rep. John Delaney (Md.) – are unloading on socialism or taking shots at “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal, which have gone mainstream in the Democratic Party since being embraced by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.).
Hickenlooper and Delaney made waves with their warnings about socialism and Medicare for All at the California Democratic Party convention over the weekend in San Francisco, where they were booed mercilessly by the liberal crowd.
Now they’ve become targets for the party’s energized left wing, including Ocasio-Cortez, who encouraged Delaney to “sashay away” from the race after he said that Medicare for All would result in hospital bankruptcies and cost 150 million Americans access to health insurance.”
1) Surely we’ve realized that “the socialism debate” among Democrats isn’t about real, honest to goodness socialism as it’s practiced in Cuba and Venezuela. No serious candidate for the Democratic nomination is talking about “government-owned” or “nationalized” means of production. Mainstream media isn’t, and neither is the majority of Democratic voters. Particularly for younger voters for whom the appeal of capitalism is declining, “socialism” (as I’ve written in “What Young Voters Want When They Want Socialism“) is short-hand for a less rigged and rapacious, more restrained and fair type of market economy than the brand that ascended with 80s-era Reaganism and Thatcherism and crashed with the 2008 Financial Crisis. In this light, critiques of 40 years of neoliberalism are serious challenges to centrists like Hickenlooper, Bennet, and Delaney. It’s the last conversation they want to have because they don’t even know how to have it now that Trumpism has slaughtered their sacred cows.
2) Once the Democratic Party transitioned away from unions and the working class as its policy and financial base to suburban professionals (and, subsequently, Wall Street and Silicon Valley), “corporate Democrats” bought into tax cuts, deregulation, austerity, and shrinking the size of government. Margaret Thatcher famously said, “There is no alternative” when enacting such policies and the centrists believed her.
3) Reagan and Thatcher’s ideas did not die with them, but neither are they still alive. As if still infected with their virus, undead centrist Democrats shamble about, unable to tell new generations of voters that the Green New Deal and Medicare For All are untenable because they themselves were complicit in “starving the beast” along with anti-big government Republicans. Instead, they hiss and groan “How’re we going to pay for these programs?” to distract us from their zombified lack of big ideas.
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