Democrats, especially the ones who are running for president, have almost unanimously adopted the democratic-socialist platform. The one thing they can’t seem to agree on is whether to actually call themselves “socialists.”
During the South by Southwest festival in Texas, many of the top Democratic superstars took the opportunity to introduce themselves to the Party’s base as they jockey for position in advance of the 2020 presidential primaries.
Even in front of a friendly audience, though, several candidates couldn’t avoid stumbling over the Democratic Party’s ongoing identity crisis over its own ideology.
Although most of the current Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed extremist socialist policies such as the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All” — both of which would entail massive government takeovers of the economy — some of those candidates were unwilling to openly identify with the socialist ideology they are advocating.
“I believe in markets. Markets that work,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, adding that it would be “wrong” to classify her as a socialist.
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who recently announced that he was running in 2020, told CBS News that he also rejects the socialist label.
"I'm happy to say I'm a capitalist, but I think at a certain point the labels do nothing but divide us," he argued. "What I'm trying to build this campaign around is to say that as a country we've got to stop finding every excuse to divide ourselves and begin working together."
Representative Tulsi Gabbard was even more ambiguous. While she was willing to endorse Medicare for All, Gabbard recoiled from accepting the mantle of socialism, saying she didn’t want to fall into the “trap of labels” — which is just another way of saying that she doesn’t want to be honest with the American people about the true nature of her party’s radical agenda.
Plenty of other prominent Democrats are similarly reticent about letting the socialist cat out of the bag and are adding their own voices to the chorus of denials. According to The Hill, Senator Kamala Harris and former Representatives Beto O'Rourke and John Delaney have all explicitly refused to embrace the political ideology in recent days.
Of course, this public rejection of socialism comes amid a major surge in popularity for Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of whom have led the Democrats’ leftward charge while openly bearing the label of “democratic socialist.”
Ocasio-Cortez even set herself apart from the crowd at SXSW by stridently attacking capitalism, arguing that the economic system is “irredeemable” because "Capitalism is an ideology of capital — the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit.”
Oh, to be a Democrat running for president today — torn between embracing socialism in order to tap into the supporters and contributors of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, yet wanting to avoid actually being identified as a socialist for fear of what that will mean to swing voters in the general election against President Trump.
But don’t mistake the ongoing Democrat feud over labels for something that it’s not — aware that their socialist ideology is repugnant to a vast majority of Americans, some Democrats are simply desperate to rebrand themselves before the election.
After all, Warren, O'Rourke, Harris, and other Democrats who deny being socialists have also embraced the Green New Deal — a $93 trillion socialist project that seeks to establish a universal healthcare system and provide “guaranteed jobs.”
Don’t be fooled — the Democrats are definitely all-in for socialism; they just don’t want the American people to know it yet.