The Associated Press on Saturday reported a story headlined "Democratic socialism surging in the age of Trump." Reporter Steve Peoples began with Zak Ringelstein, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate in Maine against Sen. Angus King, a CNN favorite and an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Ringelstein showily joined the Democratic Socialists of America. AP did place it on the far left:
The swift evolution is latest evidence of a nationwide surge in the strength and popularity of an organization that, until recently, operated on the fringes of the liberal movement's farthest left flank. But as Donald Trump's presidency stretches into its second year, democratic socialism has become a significant force in Democratic politics. Its rise comes as Democrats debate whether moving too far left will turn off voters.
One could question how "swift" the evolution is when AP reporters 42 candidates have been endorsed by the DSA, and are often losing in primary elections. Or you could suggest the evolution was first evident with the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Peoples explained that Democrats don't like the S-word, but largely embrace the agenda:
The most ambitious Democrats in Washington have been reluctant to embrace the label, even as they embrace the policies defining modern-day democratic socialism: Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition and the abolition of the federal department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Congress' only self-identified democratic socialist, campaigned Friday with the movement's newest star, New York City congressional candidate Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former bartender who defeated one of the most powerful House Democrats last month.
Her victory poured gasoline onto a fire that was already beginning to burn brighter. The DSA's paid membership has hovered around 6,000 in recent years, said Allie Cohn, a member of the group's national political team.
Last week, its paid membership hit 45,000 nationwide.
That's "gasoline on a fire"? 45,000? Going to their meetings isn't going to help their image with independents and Republicans:
Members during public meetings often refer to each other "comrades," wear clothing featuring socialist symbols like the rose and promote authors such as Karl Marx.
The common association with the Soviet Union, the first state to adopt a form of socialism, has made it difficult for sympathetic liberals to explain their connection.
"I don't like the term socialist, because people do associate that with bad things in history," said Kansas congressional candidate James Thompson, who is endorsed by the DSA and campaigned alongside Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, but is not a dues-paying democratic socialist. "There's definitely a lot of their policies that closely align with mine."
Peoples also noted the Republicans are thrilled with this "surge" to identify with the S-word:
Republicans, meanwhile, are encouraged by the rise of democratic socialism — for a far different reason. They have seized on what they view as a leftward lurch by Democrats they predict will alienate voters this fall and in the 2020 presidential race.
The Republican National Committee eagerly notes that Sanders' plan to provide free government-sponsored health care for all Americans had no co-sponsors in 2013. Today, more than one-third of Senate Democrats and two-thirds of House Democrats have signed onto the proposal, which by one estimate could cost taxpayers as much as $32 trillion.