More Democratic Socialists in Congress - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
More Democratic Socialists in Congress
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Jamaal Bowman in his first run for Congress in 2020 (Jamaal Bowman for Congress Launch Video/YouTube)

As congressional Republicans battled over the next speaker of the House, Democrats chummily embraced the addition of more “democratic socialists” to their ranks. And whereas the former story dominated news headlines, the latter didn’t elicit a shrug from the liberal media.

The democratic socialists hail from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which for years now has described itself as the “largest socialist organization in the United States.” With nearly 100,000 members, to whom the DSA literally refers as its “comrades,” that’s not overstated. And in recent years, they’ve been successfully electing their comrades nationwide — as Democrats.

The original “Squad” of DSA members elected as Democrats included the troika of Congressgirl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the weeping Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and the unhinged Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The Squad then picked up Cori Bush (D-Mo.), another notable radical, and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

Progressives drooled over the “diversity” of their Squad — all minority women. For a progressive, nothing could be better.

Now, add to the class a couple guys, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas), plus another minority woman, Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.). All three likewise came into politics through the DSA and its activism.

The key to these socialists’ success has been a very Machiavellian electoral strategy. It was championed by the DSA and its partner, the radical Justice Democrats, an organization run by Alexandra Rojas and co-founded by Young Turks leader Cenk Uygur. As I noted in a previous column (along with video links), Uygur 5 years ago candidly explained his and his allies’ long-term strategy: “What we need to do is take over the Democratic Party. We’re going to primary all of the establishment Democrats…. We’re going to primary all vulnerable Democrats.” Collaborating with the DSA and its members-candidates running for Congress, Uygur declared: “We want hundreds. We want to replace Congress.”

If Uygur and his cohorts could get into Congress a dozen or so AOCs or Omars, Uygur assured, “People would freak the hell out.”

They have indeed, with lots of freaky results.

There’s the charming Tlaib, who, shortly after her swearing-in ceremony, with her young son at her side, vowed of President Donald Trump, “[W]e’re gonna impeach the motherf***er!,” as the room of progressives stomped and whooped at her freak-out.

There is Omar, whose anti-Semitic statements were condemned even by the House Democratic leadership, and who cites as her “idol” America’s most infamous female Marxist, Lenin Prize winner Angela Davis (who also is mentor to Patrisse Cullors, the self-admitted Marxist founder of Black Lives Matter).

And of course, there is AOC, the biggest star of them all. She may be the most popular Democrat, let alone DSA member, in Congress. Then–DNC Chair Tom Perez celebrated Miss Socialist USA as “the future of our party.”

And then came Cori Bush, who in 2020 was elected to Missouri’s 1st District, which includes the city of St. Louis. Bush’s campaign strategy followed the DSA–Justice Democrats template perfectly, as she ran against 10-term Democratic incumbent William Lacy Clay.

Thus, the enhanced Squad of AOC and Tlaib and Omar and Bush and Pressley became that of the literal cover girls for the DSA. The organization splashed their faces all over its website and social media, ridiculously framing them in propaganda images stoically staring leftward to that sunny new utopia.

Now they can add two guys to the pin-up posters, Bowman and Casar, and also Summer Lee.

In all these cases, the DSA-blessed candidates followed the same strategy: They ran in overwhelmingly Democratic districts, knowing that whichever Democrat wins the primary wins the general election in November. Once the traditional Democrat is defeated, the socialist Democrat secures the seat with effectively no competitive Republican opposition in the November election.

Such was how Ocasio-Cortez got elected in New York’s 14th Congressional District. With AOC as the Manchurian candidate, the Justice Democrats and the DSA targeted the district, a fully Democratic seat held for 20 years by then–House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent. On June 26, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley and, in turn, easily won in November, where she effectively had no meaningful Republican competition.

Add to the victory column Summer Lee. In a piece last June, I wrote about the crucial congressional race in Pittsburgh to replace retiring Rep. Mike Doyle, a 14-term Democrat, a seat pursued by Lee, and not without major controversy.

Pittsburgh’s 12th Congressional District includes Squirrel Hill (one of my favorite neighborhoods), the historic Jewish section of Pittsburgh. Lee’s candidacy had upset moderate Democrats and especially Jewish voters concerned about Lee’s position on Israel. According to an analysis at RealClearPolitics: “In total, pro-Israel groups spent at least $2.5 million on the race, almost all of it attacking Lee. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s political wing, the United Democracy Project (UDP), spent more than $2 million running attack ads and a direct mail campaign.”

A huge amount of money. The Jewish press, locally and nationally, carried articles relating those fears among Jewish voters.

To be sure, Lee did have supporters among some left-wing Jewish voters, some of whom lashed out at AIPAC’s ads. Lee’s campaign manager is Jewish and wrote a piece for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle staunchly defending Lee. It probably would be more accurate to say that support for Lee among Jewish voters often broke down along conventional lines of liberal versus conservative.

Nonetheless, at the last minute, many voters (Jewish and non-Jewish) rallied around local Democratic businessman Steve Irwin, including the outgoing Doyle. Lee, conversely, was endorsed by the Democratic Party’s far Left, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Squad.

Summer Lee hails from the DSA, which is where she got her start. In 2018, she ran aggressively against Pennsylvania state Rep. Paul Costa (a longtime traditional Democrat from a well-known family of Democratic politicians) as a DSA member and won. More recently, Lee reportedly had a split with the Pittsburgh DSA chapter over some internal rift, and she is reportedly now a former DSA member. Ross Marcus Tedder of the Lee campaign stated that Lee “hasn’t been affiliated” with the DSA since 2019. I contacted the Lee campaign for clarification on her DSA affiliation but did not receive a response.

Either way, Lee remains a democratic socialist ideologically, which troubled many traditional Democrats in Pittsburgh’s 12th District, who urged Republicans to switch party affiliations to vote for the more traditional Irwin. All of this prompted the most competitive Democratic primary race in the area in quite some time. Irwin almost completely erased Lee’s lead. Out of over 110,000 votes cast, Lee prevailed by only about 700.

From there, not surprisingly, Lee went on to defeat the Republican nominee in November, though the Republican did unusually well in this highly Democratic district (given Lee’s extremism), grabbing 44 percent of the vote. Once again, the strategy honed by the DSA and the Justice Democrats had worked perfectly for the democratic socialist.

In all, the socialists are sliding into Congress through the Trojan horse of the Democratic Party.

But not just in Congress.

The success of these candidates nationwide is a bigger story, beyond the U.S. House of Representatives. The DSA’s longer list of endorsed candidates around the country in 2022 was significant. They did very well. Many of them won in landslides. Throughout America, these energetic gals and guys are rising stars in the Democratic Party, and they are committed democratic socialists.

John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman are rolling over in their graves.

As Republicans battle to keep their party on a conservative course, Democrats are merrily swinging open their door to democratic socialists. As they do so, socialism gains ground — and seats — in Congress and nationwide.

Paul Kengor
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Paul Kengor is Editor of The American Spectator. Dr. Kengor is also a professor of political science at Grove City College, a senior academic fellow at the Center for Vision & Values, and the author of over a dozen books, including A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism, and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.
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