The 2020 Election Results Look Like a Massive Rebuke of Socialism
Summarizing the key lessons that Democrats should take away from election results that were much less favorable than expected, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D–Va.) reportedly told fellow members of her caucus during a conference call on Thursday that they shouldn’t say the word socialism “ever again.”
This would be good policy advice, whether or not it’s good political advice. But as it turns out, socialism is looking like a major political loser this election cycle, with the specter of it likely costing former Vice President Joe Biden his chance at winning Florida. Indeed, this could be a rough couple of years for progressives: A Biden presidency coupled with a Republican-controlled Senate—an outcome that is far from certain, but gaining some degree of likelihood—would make it almost impossible for Democrats to push through the structural changes (such as D.C. statehood or an expansion of the Supreme Court) that could allow the left to take power.
This is something of a reversal of fortunes. For democratic socialists, the 2020 election cycle began with great promise; the hard left had not one but two ardently progressive primary candidates in Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), the latter of whom had shown auspicious resilience against Hillary Clinton in 2016. There had also been small, encouraging signs in the years between then and now: the surprise election of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) in 2018, the success of socialist magazines and podcasts, the increasing salience of issues like economic inequality and Medicare for All, the formation of “the Squad.“
But neither Warren nor Sanders could overcome Biden, the candidate who had worked hardest to put serious distance between himself and the term socialist. If anything, Biden needed to work even harder at this, since President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign
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