The Democratic Socialists of America is a U.S. socialist organization. As the name suggests, they combine 2 ways of thinking about society (including politics). As democrats, they think society should serve the public good. As socialists, they want to get rid capitalism.
Until very recently, the Democratic Socialists haven’t had a big influence part of U.S. politics. They consider themselves an organization, not a political party. However, one of their goals is getting lots of Democratic Socialists elected.
Democratic Socialists tend to vote or even run for office as Democrats, since that’s the best way for them to get influence changes. However, being a Democrat doesn’t make you a socialist. You can think of democracy as a way to set up a government, and socialism as a way to organize the economy (who owns what, how money is spread around, etc.)
5 important positions Democratic Socialist positions
- Healthcare for every American
- Uniting workers in unions so that they have more power to negotiate for salaries, benefits, etc.
- Making sure unions have plenty of power to negotiate with big companies and the government for salaries, benefits, etc.
- Businesses owned by workers (“co-ops”) who share profits
- More land and resources owned by the public (not individuals or private companies)
Democratic Socialists’ vision for the U.S.
Democratic Socialists’ long term vision for the U.S. is to end capitalism. This would mean a lot of major changes to how we live and work. In a socialist system, companies are owned and run by groups of workers. They share profits and decide as a group how to run the company. You can see how this would be different than our current system, where a company’s owners make the decisions and keep as many of the profits as they can.
In general, a socialist system means more limits on how much stuff or land any person could own and how much money they could accumulate. Socialist systems also usually mean much stronger social safety nets: everybody should be able to have food, housing, healthcare, etc. This also means that people in the society have to provide the money and work so that food, housing, and healthcare are available.
We already have some “socialist” ideas in today’s U.S. society. Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program are government-funded healthcare. To pay for them, the government collects taxes from everybody and uses that tax money to pay for healthcare for old people, children, and poorer Americans. And some U.S. companies are completely employee owned — King Arthur Flour, for example.
Conflicts within the organization
While most Democratic Socialists agree that capitalism is bad, they disagree over how quickly to dismantle and replace it. The debate about healthcare is a good example. Right now, people pay for health insurance in a bunch of different ways. Most Democratic Socialists would say, “Our healthcare system sucks! Let’s get rid of it!” But they might then disagree about what to replace it with.
Senator and former Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders proposed a Medicare for All plan where the government would deal with healthcare payments — negotiate with doctors, pharmaceutical companies, etc. But you can imagine going even further: instead of private doctors and companies, government would use tax money to administer healthcare. You might have publicly-owned hospitals or publicly employed doctors. This would be a little like England’s healthcare system, the National Health Service.