Confusing political labels increase with democratic socialism

Brian Geyer and Brian Geyer

Labels in politics are completely unescapable. To start, on the surface, you are required in primary elections to vote for a person within the party you signed up with. This is probably the simplest part of political labeling and does not need much, if any, explanation.

Next, we can go into the labels on whether someone is a liberal or a conservative. Most of the time, the case is that a Republican leans conservative and a Democrat leans liberal. However, within the party it can also be said that some Republicans are more liberal than others, meaning they are more center-leaning than their right-winging counterparts. In the same way, Democrats who consider themselves pro-life or pro-gun are considered to be conservative-leaning Democrats since their values are a little more center-leaning.

In recent years, labeling has become a bigger hassle than a convenience. Candidate for the 2020 presidential election Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist. Although he is heavily involved in Democratic issues, he labels himself as an Independent candidate. Sanders has received much scrutiny from people on both sides of the aisle for his labeling as a “socialist.” Socialism, to many, especially Republicans, would undermine the democracy America has fought to keep.

To clear up some of the discrepancy, Bernie Sanders has sent out various tweets specifically speaking on democratic socialism and what it means to him.

“What I mean by democratic socialism is that I want a vibrant democracy. Trump is actively involved in voter suppression and trying to keep people of color or low-income people from voting. I want to make it easier to vote,” he said in a tweet.

Since the rise of Sanders’ popularity, other Democrats such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come out as a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, further mudding what it means to be Democrat. Like Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez believes in a system in which Americans are allowed to vote more readily and systems like Sanders’ Medicare for All bill is fully implemented. Ocasio-Cortez has also become the face of extreme progressive ideas such as the Green New Deal, which would erase all fossil fuel emissions.

Politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have completely changed what the Democratic Party looks like – and it’s clear her influence is changing the party. The Republican Party has a unique right-wing group called the Tea Party, and it’s not uncommon to hear on conservative networks that the Democratic Party is creating a left-wing tea party of their own. Besides established Democrats who have been in the public eye for years such as Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, it is clear the Democrats are open to moving a little more into “left-field” if voters support these progressive policies.

Thinking about the 2020 Democratic primary, I am stunned at how close everyone’s policies are. Nearly every Democratic candidate has come out in support of some form of Sanders’ Medicare for All policy. This makes voting even harder for a potential Democrat casting their ballot next year.

Although a large majority of these candidates hold similar values, their labels are not similar. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, my personal favorite so far, has been asked multiple times if she can be called a “socialist,” and every time she has responded that although she endorses many progressive policies, she calls herself a “capitalist.” She claims her policies such as breaking up large corporate businesses are ultimately capitalist policies that work for the everyday, middle-class person.

As an observer, could Warren be labeled a democratic socialist like Sanders? Of course, she could. In fact, Warren and Sanders have very similar ideologies. But is it good public relations skills to label herself something else that may appeal more to center-leaning Democrats? You bet.