Ortasio-Cortez heralds a New Political Era

Staff Columnist

By Fred Barnes. The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, February 19,2019)

We’re entering a new political era.  The issues are bigger, they’re   far outside the mainstream, and they’re reminiscent of an earlier time.  And the stakes are higher.

One of the first to recognize this was Senate Majority Leader  Mitch McConnell. ‘I can pretty safely say this is the first time in my political career that I thought the essence of America was being debated’, he tells me in an interview.

‘I never thought we [would be] debating things that were debated in the 30s, both communism and socialism.’  Mr. McConnell says.  Those ideologies were ‘largely discredited at a time when Americans could have found these arguments pretty appealing in the middle of the Great Depression.’

Mr. McConnell thinks socialism ought to be a tough sell today, given the prosperous economy and low unemployment.  But maybe not.  Polls show socialism has risen in stature , which  Mr. McConnell sees as evidence of the new era.  Last year, he notes Gallup found  for the first time that Democrats have a more ‘positive view’ of socialism than capitalism.

Another poll –- this one from 2016 – showed Democratic primary voters ‘in every age group, every gender  and every race view socialism favorably.’  Among Democrats 45 and under, 45%preferred socialism to 19% for capitalism.

That changed a bit when the pollster offered definitions of socialism and capitalism:  40% of Democrats preferred socialism and 25% picked capitalism.  Still, nearly 60% said socialism would have a  ‘positive impact’.  The poll of 1,000 Democrats in 2016 was conducted for the American Action Network, a right-of-center organization.  Socialism may not dominate the new era, but neither is it likely to fade.  Two things will keep it alive.  One is the proliferation of left-of-center ideas that meld easily into socialism.  Second   is the emergence of New York’s Rep.  Alexandria  Ocasio-Cortez as the newest Democratic star.  She calls herself a ‘democratic socialist’.”

More on NY’s latestRep:  “The Green New Deal is another of Ms.Ocasio-Cortez’s ambitious ideas   She’s been a House member for less than two months.  She’s young    attractive and self-assured. The media treat her as a major figure , second in the House only to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  A measure of her prominence is that she’s already known by her initials, AOC.

Republicans don’t have to worry that these proposals will become law.  There’s no chance of that with a GOP Senate and Donald Trump in the White House.  But the GOP Roadblocks may vanish in the 2020 election.  Mr. Trump isn’t a shoo-in for re-election, and the Republicans who control the Senate 53-47 will be defending 22 seats in 2020 while Democrats defend 12.  Its possible for Democrats to hold the House and win the Senate and presidency.”

(Mr. Barnes was a founder and executive editor of the Weekly Standard.)

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