The Rushmore Report – What Is Democratic Socialism?

The rising star of the Democratic Party is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old political novice who is likely to be elected the youngest woman member of the U.S. Congress in history. Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic nomination in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, 86-14 percent. She ran as a Democratic Socialist, out of the Bernie Sanders mold. But what exactly is a Democratic Socialist?

A lot of Americans found Sanders to be a refreshing candidate in 2016. They like his idealism and commitment to free universal healthcare and college. Perhaps you know some folks who support Sanders and his sunny platform. If you want to mess with their minds, ask them two questions – neither of which they have likely given much thought.

1. Can you name a single country where Democratic Socialism has worked? (Then tell them about that utopia known as Venezuela.)

2. How do you suggest we pay for this “free” college and healthcare?

If you aren’t sure what Democratic Socialism is, don’t feel bad. Apparently, Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t know much about it either. In an interview last week, she was asked how her political views inform her positions on foreign policy. She responded that she wasn’t really up to speed on such matters. Never mind, she has a degree in international relations.

But she is young and energetic. That’s more important in a Congresswoman than understanding the issues.

Ocasio-Cortez isn’t alone. Democratic Socialists have grown in number by 500 percent since the 2016 election.

But again, what is the difference between a Democratic Socialist and a garden variety Democrat? Appearing on The View, Ocasio-Cortez was cornered by Meghan McCain. When pressed, she said the difference is “huge.” When McCain asked for a bit more detail, she responded, “I believe that in a moral and wealthy America, in a moral and modern America, no person should be too poor to live in the country.”

Let me paraphrase: “I dunno!”

Let’s clear it up for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. Socialism stands for state ownership of all major resources and typically ends with a complete collapse and destruction of the productive population. Social democracy suggests redistribution of capitalistic gains – as in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden.

The Left is found of citing Norway and Sweden – though both are now moving to the right. And they neglect the much more prosperous Switzerland, which is just as successful and far less socialistic.

Democratic Socialists miss something else. Generous welfare policies operate best in small, homogeneous countries with closed borders. If you open the borders to people – with the message of free college and healthcare for all – a flood of immigrants rushes in and sinks the boat. That’s why voters in Europe have increasingly moved toward a more restrictive view of immigration.

But the democratic socialism dream lives on, buoyed by the nomination of candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The bartender turned politician has yet to answer such fundamental questions such as who will pay for college and healthcare. Nor has she defined what a democratic socialist is. But her followers don’t care.

After all, she is idealist and full of energy. As for trivial questions such as how the $30 trillion dollar “free” healthcare would be paid for, how open borders actually make life better for the average American, and how to pay for free college – well, let’s not get mired in the weeds.

I’ll take clueless idealism over substance any day.

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