Are you tired of not knowing the difference between Socialist and “Democratic Socialist?” After Rep. Joe Crowley’s defeat to 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the question started to circulate again. While some have used the word “socialist” to describe Ocasio-Cortez, the definition of the term doesn’t quite fit into her political platform.
Overall, “socialist” is kind of a four-letter word in the American political climate. The concept of complete social control, either by the state or the workers, over private property and the distribution of income tends to bring up fears and resentment toward the Soviet Union and an age of Soviet spies nestled within the United States government. Ultimately, socialism wants to rid the ability of big corporations controlling any aspect of society and aims to have it distributed via a democratically elected government.
Democratic Socialism, however, isn’t socialism. Think of it as “socialism light,” because it doesn’t want to completely remove control of the more important aspects of the nation from the government. In fact, what Democratic Socialists want is for the government to take better care of its people and provide a range of services for free.
Much like Ocasio-Cortez’s platform, for example, a Democratic Socialist would want healthcare, college tuition, and housing all provided to the people as a right. Democratic Socialists still hold onto the principles of democracy and hope to steer clear of the authoritarian government system that’s often associated with socialism.
If that doesn’t quite clear things up, the Democratic Socialists of America website had this to say about its platform: "At the root of our socialism is a profound commitment to democracy, as means and end. As we are unlikely to see an immediate end to capitalism tomorrow, DSA fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people."
While adding the word “socialist” to “democratic” may seem like putting a bandaid over a wound that perpetually bleeds red (get it?), there’s no need to fear Ocasio-Cortez or the DSA’s platform. It aims to remove political influence on money and wants to give power to the otherwise ordinary people.
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