New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday accused Republicans of weaponizing the “socialist” label against her party as a means to dampen its reform efforts targeting working-class Americans.
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In a series of tweets posted on Friday, Ocacio-Cortez said branding Democrats as socialists is a strategy that dates back decades, adding that Republicans have “no idea” what economic democracy is.
Economic democracy is founded in the idea that workers within organizations should have a stronger voice – keeping the current market system in place. It would also ideally give workers a bigger stake in company profits.
Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, recently attended retail giant Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting to propose allowing hourly workers to have representation on the company board. He has made other, similar proposals aimed at giving workers a more prominent role within large corporations.
Ocasio-Cortez added this Republican line of attack got Democrats to kill the public option “years ago,” saying she wished her party was as “bold” as Republicans make them out to be.
Ocasio-Cortez is among a number of progressive politicians who have embraced the label of “Democratic socialist,” in addition to Sanders – a 2020 Democratic hopeful.
Sanders was recently forced to defend his definition of Democratic socialism, where he said during a speech in Washington, D.C. that President Trump and his allies don’t oppose all forms of socialism – just Democratic socialism, because it consists of reforms to help working-class people. He referenced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” for creating a “government that made transformative progress in protecting the needs of working families.”
Sanders’ goal, he said, was to carry on FDR’s “unfinished business.”
“We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights,” he said. “That is what I mean by Democratic socialism.”
Sanders’ embrace of socialism has set up a key discussion heading into the 2020 election, as politicians and Americans try to weigh its merits against capitalism.
It was therefore no surprise that it was featured as a prominent topic during the second round of Democratic debates in Miami on Thursday, where some candidates – including former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper – said branding the party as socialists could lead to Trump's re-election.
Some of Sanders’ more progressive policies include transitioning to a single-payer health care system, eliminating student debt for millions of Americans and scrapping tuition at public colleges and universities.
The Vermont senator admitted on Thursday that the middle class would have to pay more in taxes in order to implement some of his top policies.