"I'm a radical...(But) I want to be on the left wing of the possible." That's how activist-author Michael Harrington, co-founder of the Democratic Socialists of America, defined his political mission decades ago. I was reminded of this by David Remnick's recent New Yorker magazine profile of insurgent Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a proud DSA member. By "exposing the harsher realities of American life," writes Remnick, Harrington, author of The Other America, a hugely influential book about poverty, "sought to push the Democratic Party left."
"The left wing of the possible" also "reflects how Ocasio-Cortez practices politics," notes Remnick. This is the sweet spot for America's new wave of progressive, left-wing, and yes, socialist activists.
Ocasio-Cortez is boldly confronting the capitalist system. "No person should be too poor to live," is her credo, observes Remnick. Says the maverick New York political leader: "I do think we're in a crisis of late-stage capitalism, where people are working 60, 80 hours a week and they still can't feed their families. There's a lot that is economically dystopic in this country."
Like Harrington. the charismatic Ocasio-Cortez has chosen to work within the Democratic Party to pursue her radical agenda of massively humanizing our society. This is the battleground for all of us who are serious about saving our country. The first battle is taking over the Democratic Party and making it the party of working people again, instead of Wall Street plutocrats.
The last national political leader who had a real chance of accomplishing this miracle was Robert F. Kennedy. So I was surprised and delighted to read in The New Yorker that RFK is Ocasio-Cortez's political hero. Reading Bobby's old speeches in college, she told Remnick, "that was my jam."
I belonged to the Democratic Socialists of America back in the 1970s when it was founded. This week, I'm going to join the youthful wave that is now re-energizing DSA. I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
David Talbot © 2018
David Talbot is an American progressive journalist, author and media executive. He is the founder, former CEO and editor-in-chief of Salon, one of the first on-line magazines. He has also written a number of books, including the best seller Season of the Witch.
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