In a capitalist democracy like the United States, socialism historically hasn’t been the most well-received political affiliation in many cirlces.
But since the rise of self-proclaimed socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential election, it seems that the pool of U.S. voters who want to ally with a socialist party is growing, including in Texas.
New York Times Reporter Farah Stockman says Houston lawyer Franklin Bynum is part of this trend.
Bynum ran unopposed in a Democratic primary last month for a judicial seat. Stockman says Bynum defines himself as a socialist, far-left candidate in a state that is considered a conservative stronghold.
“After Trump was elected, there were tens of thousands of people who decided that both political parties were broken,” Stockman says. “They wanted something very different and so they are joining the Democratic Socialists of America.”
During the Cold War, the concept of socialism was taboo. But for young people looking to D.S.A. with interest, it’s an ideology that pursues a better life for ordinary people.
“It’s generational,” Stockman says. “If you’re under 30, you’re much more likely to be skeptical of capitalism. If you really listen to what they say, they’re not talking about a wholesale change in the economy.”
Instead, she says, they’re talking about issues like single parent health care. Millennials embracing socialism aren’t thinking about the Cold War or propaganda, Stockman says. Instead, they think about Scandinavian countries that are seen as an embodiment of 21st century socialism.
“This young generation is really the first generation in a long time that isn’t going to do better than their parents,” Stockman says. “They are graduating from school with heavy student debt. They are living in cities with high rents and it’s not going to be as easy for them to make it. So they are arguing ‘Hey, we need a change. This system isn’t working for us.”
Stockman says the D.S.A. is pushing Democrats to the left in a way that’s similar to the effect the Tea Party had on Republicans.
“To them, if you get a Democrat in that doesn’t reflect their values, it might as well be a Republican,” Stockman says. “They are very skeptical of the Democratic party, even though they operate within it, and they are the first to say ‘if you are a corporate shield, if you are not working for the good of the average ordinary people, we are not going to work for you’.”