While the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have officially been around since 1982, only recently have they emerged as a growing movement in North Carolina. The organization’s website mentions three chapters in North Carolina and somewhat predictably they are found in the Triad, Charlotte, and Asheville. However, college chapters exist in the state as well, as the failed and recycled policies of the past are finding new and impressionable audiences. A 2017 article in The Nation points out the dramatic demographic shift of those embracing socialism that are joining up with the dues paying socialist organization:
“Today, the median age of DSA’s membership is 33, down from 68 in 2013.”
The utopian minded policies of the NC DSA are clearly attracting the young. Much of that can be chalked up to the rise of Bernie Sanders and other socialist minded progressives like “The Squad.” Congressional members Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) are both members of Democratic Socialists of America. The DSA believe it is a waste of time to run their own slate of candidates and instead work to influence the Democrat Party by pushing it further to the left on the political spectrum. They have endorsed a number of Democrats running for president in recent decades, including Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders.
Promises like free college and healthcare for all tickle the ears, but what would policies like those mean for North Carolina? The reader receives solid clues after seeing all of the Democratic Socialists groups in NC signed on to the NC United for Survival & Beyond platform. In July, Civitas’s Brian Balfour already dismantled not only the lunacy of the platform but also highlighted the lack of feasibility inherent in the proposed platform. Some of the proposals for North Carolina included a “push for everyone to be released” from prison and jails, expansion of Medicaid to all illegal immigrants, universal basic income, and massive tax increases. “A new coalition of left-wing groups in North Carolina has garnered more than 200 members,” writes Balfour. “The radical agenda should terrify anyone who values freedom, the rule of law, common sense, and economic security.”
Agitation of labor against business is a common DSA theme in their messaging and social media, particularly in North Carolina, a right to work state not traditionally known for stirring up worker unrest. The agitation of employees against management or business is a common tactic of a Marxist worldview. Scrolling through some of the social media posts by DSA groups in North Carolina, one finds images and posts depicting law enforcement as pigs. A common tactic of many on the left is to label the police as “fascist pigs.” The Charlotte Metro DSA hosted a screening of “Marx: Reloaded” in September, a film that imagines the end of free markets and the capitalist system.
Despite these controversial themes, the DSA grew in fame during their 2019 National Convention in Atlanta where jazz hands were enforced over clapping – to protect those with sensory overload – and where one attendee was quickly and forcefully admonished for using gendered language after he used the term “guys” while addressing the floor. “We’re now watching a political convention where clapping is so triggering everybody has to make jazz hands like a lot of camp assistant choreographers rehearsing a number from ‘Hello Dolly,’” opined Mark Steyn in 2019.
In a supposed tip of the hat to past Marxist authoritarian regimes, attendees of the national convention were routinely referred to as “comrade.” One professor, a longtime member of the DSA is quoted in The Nation article as saying about many of the new, more radical members: “Now it’s hip to say you’re a Marxist-Leninist. People like the hammer and sickle; they like to wear a red star, have the posters in their bedroom.”
While many may write them off as fringe kooks, The DSA in North Carolina and across the country are clearly having success in moving Democrats further to the left. According to NBC News exit polling, 48 percent of North Carolina Democrat primary voters have a positive view of socialism. Only 42 percent have an unfavorable view.
A failure to teach civics plays some role in the new embrace of socialist thinking across the nation. Furthermore, conservatives and both national parties must improve policy messaging to stem the rise of an ideology that has bred poverty and destruction across the globe. One of the reasons the socialist society collapsed behind the Iron Curtain and in the Soviet Union is because it did not listen to or tell the economic truth.
Eighteen to 34-year-olds now view socialism as more appealing than capitalism. Many are attracted to the movement of socialism because of crushing student loans and an all-around belief by many young people that they cannot succeed to the degree that their parents did in this nation.
Ultimately, socialism won’t work for North Carolinians or any society because it’s a materialistic worldview that places the state above the individual. Yet, North Carolinians and well-meaning Democrats in their own party must remain vigilant of forces that wish to plunder society in the name of greed and envy.