Written by Niti Parekh
The 2020 election has seen a dramatic shift in presidential candidates representing the Democratic Party. Among the many senators and mayors running for president, some stand out for their communist views while others are billionaires who serve to form a strong cooperation. Serving the extreme left is Bernie Sanders whose policies are portrayed as “democratically socialist”, while candidates that are more conservative include Michael Bennet and Michael Bloomberg. If I were to make a scale between Sanders and Bloomberg as a measure of leftism in the Democratic Party, I believe a leftward push, that is, more candidates with more socialist policies, will be good for the overall health of democrats.
The current trend in politics calls for extreme measures. Quite simply put, the world seems to support radical change over moderate compromise. Whether it be Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India or President Erdoğan in Turkey, political powers everywhere have won support by basing policy on the fringes – not the center – of generally accepted ideologies. In the United States, President Trump won 2016 using unpopular political tools of fear and division. Many of his policies have been extreme, evidenced by the many Supreme Court cases and the impeachment trial.
Extremism in politics has resulted in deglobalization. This is best seen through decisions made by boards of S&P companies who are wary of expanding internationally because of this uncertainty. The far right approach has also sent financial investors to safe havens and to lower risk appetites which eventually slows down economic growth. World economies including the United States have seen a dramatic rightward push, and so it is only right that a leftward push through the more liberal parties is ensued to restore balance. By introducing leftism to the mix, it will then come to the elected candidate to find a middle ground.
As Newton theorized in his laws of motion, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Having the Democratic Party seriously look at the socialist agendas of many of its candidates responds correctly to the world stage and the policies being approved in the White House.
A leftward push is also good for the Democratic Party because it is in line with what their voters aspire and want from their elected government. Harvard’s political scientist Theda Skocpol, on being asked about leftism in the Democratic Party, said that members “are going to revitalize the roots of the Democratic Party, and they are going to feminize it…” Time’s Charlotte Alter said, “It’s not that the Democrats are being pulled left. It’s more that Democrats are being pulled local…”
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s popularity in the north-east and more importantly in the swing states proves the readiness of voters to consider issues from a more socialist perspective. According to a popular political newsletter, AOC was recognized by 74 percent of voters in the poll; 22 percent had a favorable view. Her ‘Squad’ consists of Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – all are women, of color, and are elected representatives of the house. They together represent the new-age voters and socialist democratic members. In the same poll, Ilhan Omar was recognized by 53 percent of the voters.
In conclusion, I do not believe that a leftward push will translate into a communist policymaker, but rather, force the Democratic Party to critically analyze its strategy towards extreme conservatism, and is in line with the overall mindset of its voters.