Former Sanders delegate: 'Midwesterners aren't scared of socialism'

Chicago alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa penned an op-ed for NBC that encapsulates the reasons why Democrats will be unable to capitalize this November on the relative unpopularity of Republicans in the Midwest, given the Dems' turn to the hard left.

Rosa is described as "Queer, Latinx and a democratic socialist" – whatever that means.  In political terms, it means he would be a gone goose if he ran for Congress in the vast majority of districts anywhere in the Midwest.

But Rosa doesn't see it that way.  In fact, he believes that Midwesterners would embrace a socialist candidate and are "not scared of bold left-wing policies."  To "prove" his point, he cites labor activists like Eugene Debs and political movements like the left-wing activists who created the reformist movement in Wisconsin early in the 20th century.  He failed to mention the Democratic Farm-Labor party in Minnesota that still dominates Democratic politics in that state today.

There is little doubt that populist and socialist activists transformed politics and society in the early 20th century.  But how about today?  What evidence does Rosa have that a Democratic candidate – outside a few ultra-left enclaves like Madison, Wis. and Minneapolis – who embrace democratic socialism have a chance of victory, even in a solidly Democratic district?

In fact, the evidence is overwhelming that the farther left a Democrat runs in the Midwest, the more his chances of victory diminish.

Despite the lack of evidence, Rosa preaches the gospel of radical socialism:

Far from being allergic to socialism and class struggle ... the Midwest has always been a region steeped in it – even leading the way.

This isn't all ancient history, either.  In the most recent Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders – for whom I was a proud delegate to the Democratic National Convention – ran an unapologetically left-wing campaign, proudly fighting for popular policies like Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage and free public college, all while proclaiming himself a "democratic socialist."

Were Midwesterners scared off by his clear embrace of socialist ideas?  Far from it.  Sanders won primaries throughout the Midwest, in states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana and barely lost in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.

Was it Sanders's policies that won the day in those states?  Or was it because his name wasn't "Hillary Clinton"?

And look at my own election.  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.

Did this bold political vision make voters skittish?  No way.  They chose it in a landslide: Sixty-seven percent of voters in the 35th Ward on Chicago's northwest side voted for me.

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.

"Rob from the rich and give to the poor" has always been popular in poorer districts, regardless of whether or not the candidate identifies as "socialist."  It's hardly a sign of the future that poor people will vote for the candidate who promises them freebies.

Republicans reading this laughable "analysis" are praying that many more Democrats embrace Rosa's thesis that Midwesterners aren't "scared" of socialism.  His litany of 100-year-old examples of why socialism would be popular in the Midwest is a quaint reminder of history but has no relevancy to today's politics.

Yes, there are a few places where a socialist can get elected to a city council seat, or perhaps a state legislative seat.  But even liberal Democrats in the Midwest are smart enough to hide their radicalism from the voters.  Advertising oneself as a "democratic socialist" would ensure defeat in almost any political race in the region.

Chicago alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa penned an op-ed for NBC that encapsulates the reasons why Democrats will be unable to capitalize this November on the relative unpopularity of Republicans in the Midwest, given the Dems' turn to the hard left.

Rosa is described as "Queer, Latinx and a democratic socialist" – whatever that means.  In political terms, it means he would be a gone goose if he ran for Congress in the vast majority of districts anywhere in the Midwest.

But Rosa doesn't see it that way.  In fact, he believes that Midwesterners would embrace a socialist candidate and are "not scared of bold left-wing policies."  To "prove" his point, he cites labor activists like Eugene Debs and political movements like the left-wing activists who created the reformist movement in Wisconsin early in the 20th century.  He failed to mention the Democratic Farm-Labor party in Minnesota that still dominates Democratic politics in that state today.

There is little doubt that populist and socialist activists transformed politics and society in the early 20th century.  But how about today?  What evidence does Rosa have that a Democratic candidate – outside a few ultra-left enclaves like Madison, Wis. and Minneapolis – who embrace democratic socialism have a chance of victory, even in a solidly Democratic district?

In fact, the evidence is overwhelming that the farther left a Democrat runs in the Midwest, the more his chances of victory diminish.

Despite the lack of evidence, Rosa preaches the gospel of radical socialism:

Far from being allergic to socialism and class struggle ... the Midwest has always been a region steeped in it – even leading the way.

This isn't all ancient history, either.  In the most recent Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders – for whom I was a proud delegate to the Democratic National Convention – ran an unapologetically left-wing campaign, proudly fighting for popular policies like Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage and free public college, all while proclaiming himself a "democratic socialist."

Were Midwesterners scared off by his clear embrace of socialist ideas?  Far from it.  Sanders won primaries throughout the Midwest, in states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana and barely lost in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.

Was it Sanders's policies that won the day in those states?  Or was it because his name wasn't "Hillary Clinton"?

And look at my own election.  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.

Did this bold political vision make voters skittish?  No way.  They chose it in a landslide: Sixty-seven percent of voters in the 35th Ward on Chicago's northwest side voted for me.

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.

"Rob from the rich and give to the poor" has always been popular in poorer districts, regardless of whether or not the candidate identifies as "socialist."  It's hardly a sign of the future that poor people will vote for the candidate who promises them freebies.

Republicans reading this laughable "analysis" are praying that many more Democrats embrace Rosa's thesis that Midwesterners aren't "scared" of socialism.  His litany of 100-year-old examples of why socialism would be popular in the Midwest is a quaint reminder of history but has no relevancy to today's politics.

Yes, there are a few places where a socialist can get elected to a city council seat, or perhaps a state legislative seat.  But even liberal Democrats in the Midwest are smart enough to hide their radicalism from the voters.  Advertising oneself as a "democratic socialist" would ensure defeat in almost any political race in the region.