Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former bartender, burst onto the political scene a few weeks ago when she won an upset victory against ten-term Representative Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th District Democratic primary. She is a charter member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), but she cannot explain the difference between socialists and democratic socialists. She also does not know much about economics or politics, whether national or international. She believes that everyone has the right to housing, food, college, and healthcare. She believes that no one in America should be so poor that they cannot afford to live in the United States.
Ben Shapiro wrote an interesting article about Ocasio-Cortez and democratic socialism. According to him, there is a difference between socialism and social democracy.
Socialism suggests state ownership and control of all major resources – and generally ends with the complete collapse and destruction of the productive population. Social democracy suggests redistribution of capitalistic gains – more like Denmark or Norway or Sweden. It’s unclear where Ocasio-Cortez lies on this spectrum considering that the DSA openly acknowledges its desire to abolish capitalism.
But let’s assume that what Ocasio-Cortez and Democrats want is actually just European-style social democracy. If that’s the case, they’re still misreading the tea leaves: The Nordic countries aren’t thriving and healthy because they’re socialist; they’re thriving and healthy because they are small and homogenous. In fact, Nordic lifestyles means that Nordic life expectancy outclassed life expectancy in the United States before the Nordic states tried to grow government redistributionism radically. The left is fond of citing Norway and Sweden – even though both are now moving in a politically right-wing direction – but neglecting Switzerland, which is just as successful and far less socialistic.
Furthermore, generous welfare policies can only operate in small, homogenous countries because if you open the borders to such countries, immigrants flood in and then sink the boat. That’s why voters in Europe have been consistently moving toward a more restrictionist view of immigration – particularly in that bastion of social democracy, Sweden.
This DSA web site gives its answer for the question, “What is Democratic Socialism?” It says that “both the economy and society should be run democratically – to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few.” It also states that “Democracy and socialism go hand in hand.”
They believe that they can “bring [private corporations] under greater democratic control” by “regulations and tax incentives to encourage companies to act in the public interest…. Most of all, socialists look to unions to make private business more accountable.”
The democratic socialists do not believe that “starvation or greed are the only reasons people work.” They believe that people enjoy working “if it is meaningful and enhances their lives. They work out of a sense of responsibility to their community and society.” They believe that employers should “make work desirable by raising wages, offering benefits and improving the work environment. In short, we believe that a combination of social, economic, and moral incentives will motivate people to work.”
Even though “no country has fully instituted democratic socialism,” DSA believes that it would work in the United States. They want to take the “victories” in other nations – such as “Canada’s national health care system, France’s nationwide childcare program, and Nicaragua’s literacy programs” – and put them together in this country. They want to do all these national programs on the belief that people are willing to work because they enjoy working.
It seems to this writer that democratic socialists do not understand people very well. Even people who truly enjoy their work would not work if they could get someone else to provide for them and their family. One of my sons is an emergency room doctor who enjoys his work. However, if you gave him the choice between working a few shifts in the ER and going on an adventure, he would take the adventure every time. If someone else is paying the bills, why would anyone choose to work?
America works because it is a democratic republic with capitalism as its economic and political system. If capitalism was eliminated, as the democratic socialists desire, the nation would fail.