July 10, 2018

CLAIM: Democrats ignore the left at their peril. Midwesterners aren’t scared of socialism — they’re hungry for it.

I’m a 29-year-old member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) who was elected to the Chicago City Council in 2015. I ran on an unabashed platform of fighting for this city’s working class: fully funding public schools, opposing privatization, ending corporate welfare, preserving and expanding affordable housing and reopening shuttered health clinics. And I wasn’t afraid to call out the corporate-friendly Democrats who continue to cut vital social services while giving handouts to corporations and the wealthy.

The same has been true outside of major urban areas as well. Last year, in Rock Island, Illinois, millennial diesel mechanic and democratic socialist Dylan Parker won election to the city council on a broad platform for the many and not the few that included equitable economic development and universal broadband internet access.

Indeed, this hunger for anti-corporate, anti-establishment politics is spreading throughout the Midwest. You can see it in the massive growth of the Democratic Socialists of America — currently boasting over 44,000 members. Ocasio-Cortez and I are both members of DSA, which has seen chapters spring up everywhere from Indianapolis and Cincinnati to Des Moines, Iowa and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My own chapter in Chicago now has over 1,500 members.

The Democratic establishment may not want to acknowledge the growing popularity of the party’s left flank and its agenda of fighting for real social, racial and economic justice. But if they hope to win, it’s time they embrace it. If they don’t, we’ll take them head-on.

Blue-on-Blue infighting is always fun to watch. But when a major portion of a major party is ready to embrace ever-increasing statism, it isn’t a sign of political or cultural health.

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