Socialism is gaining traction in American politics. Should we be surprised?

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The election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez marks the culmination of a series of primary wins by openly admitted socialists in the Democratic Party over the past couple of months. However, by carefully examining the recent Gallup poll that asked how proud Americans are of their country, we shouldn’t be surprised.  According to the poll, released before the 4th of July, only 32 percent of registered Democrats are “extremely proud to be Americans,” down to a record low in the poll’s 18-year history. “We believe that that freedom is impacted by things like constraints on your insurance, constraints on your right to make personal decisions about what to do with your body, whether your family is going to be separated, whether your family is going to be deported,” Democratic Pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research partners said regarding the poll. Ms. Lake is pointing to the election of President Trump as the key reason to why so many Democrats feel dissatisfied with the direction of the country.

At the same time, a new poll gathered from YouGov showed that nearly half of all millennials prefer to live in a socialist country over a capitalistic country. This result may help explain the recent victories of five Democrat candidates in primaries, including four left-leaning candidates in Pennsylvania and one openly admitted socialist in New York, and the move of the entire party further towards the left.

“It feels like a monumental shift,” said Arielle Cohen, head of the Pittsburgh branch of the Democratic Socialist of America, according to a piece by the Huffington Post. “We won on popular demands that were deemed impossible. We won on health care for all, we won on free education,” Cohen continued. These promises are now a part of the mainstream of the Democratic party.

Candidates who won in Pennsylvania were all backed by the 37,000 strong Democratic Socialist of America group, winning over incumbent Democratic congressmen. Openly admitted socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose name is now familiar to us all, also beat 20-year incumbent Joe Crowley in a Queens House of Representatives’ race. The candidates in Pennsylvania fought and won their races in liberal Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, some former volunteers on the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

The DSA and the socialist backed candidates have similar ideologies, but the DSA has a more extreme view when it comes to economics. Policies like establishing worker’s cooperatives of corporations and higher taxes to fund programs like free healthcare and universal college education are continuing to challenge the established norms within the party.

Some Democrats also feel that the candidates fail to deliver on their promises after the election.  “What they’re leaning toward is what the Democratic party is only giving lip services to,” candidate Summer Lee told CNN following her victory. Many of the candidates follow the same platform as the DSA, which includes: 1) Free Universal Healthcare, 2) Free College Tuition and Trade School and 3) The Restructuring of the prison system.

Ultimately, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many socialists have won in their primaries, as many younger members of the party are not satisfied with capitalism and prefer the example of socialist countries. The question is whether this trend will carry leftist candidates to victory in the general election.