A New Party Emerging


So a Democrat and a Nazi are running for office… and this is not just the beginning of a corny joke.  Rather, it’s really happening, and it is really happening right here in Illinois. In the third congressional district of Illinois, Democratic incumbent Daniel Lipinski is running against self-proclaimed Nazi and avid Holocaust-denier, Art Jones. 

    In other words, one could safely say that our political landscape is significantly more diverse than ever before. We celebrate an unprecedented percentage of women (of all shapes, sizes, and colors) running for office in local, state, and federal elections today. Candidates representing diverse races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds stand a real fighting chance in this midterm election in November. There are candidates listed on ballots from any of a number of political parties: as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, and even Democratic Socialists.

    You may not have heard of Democratic Socialism. If you have heard of it, it is probable you are still unclear as to what Democratic Socialism is and what it means to run as a Democratic Socialist in 2018. Prior to 2016, I was right there with you. I had never heard the term either… This wave of  Democratic Socialism is certainly far from new. One of the most well-known Democratic Socialist candidates of our time is Bernie Sanders, who ran for President in 2016; ultimately however, he lost the Democratic primary election against candidate Hillary Clinton. Since then, we have seen many Democratic Socialists pop up all around the nation. According to the Democratic Socialists of America, there are over forty of them officially listed on ballots around the nation. One of the most notable of these new Democratic Socialists is, of course, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez defeated the ten-term incumbent and high ranking Democrat Joe Crowley in New York’s fourteenth Congressional district in a rather surprising turn of events this past June. Frankly, I remember watching Steve Kornacki (MSNBC’s resident “map guy” and political correspondent) frantically reacting to the news when word of Ocasio-Cortez’s “seismic” win broke through. I remember feeling ecstatic when she proved all polls and predictions wrong and became victorious through her rather unconventional grassroots campaign. Of course, it was hard not to feel ecstatic when her campaign platform and rallying message applied so perfectly to my own life and the lives of millions of other millennials and college students just like me, in New York and all around the United States… Her message aligns nearly perfectly with that of the national Democratic Socialist party, appealing largely to our generation because, as a Democratic Socialist, she wants to lower the cost of college.

   Additionally, she wants to see “housing as a human right” and to counter still-rising health insurance premiums by working to provide a single-payer system for every American. She and many other Democratic Socialists like her want to see increased unionization in workplaces and a redistribution of corporate ownership from big business and elusive millionaires to workers and consumers. Together they fight to represent those of us that work hard but not hard enough to scrape by.

Though it has been around for a while now, the idea of Democratic Socialism is a new concept for many of us. It is admittedly challenging to wrap our minds around a new party—especially in the midst of what seems like endless political parties. It is even more difficult yet to identify our place in this complex party system. However, we are still young. As such, it is okay not to know how you identify as a voter. It is quite alright to experience a change in your political affiliation: to switch between political parties. It is perfectly acceptable not to vote along partisan party lines. 

It is not okay, however, to claim ignorance as an excuse. Just as there is still plenty of time to register to vote, there is more than enough time to learn about not only the candidates in your district, but their political party and records within that political party. With that being said I encourage you to do your research, and I encourage you to vote.  Vote by mail through an absentee ballot. Vote in person. Vote however you can, because I promise, your vote counts—especially now, since we have the choice to vote for new parties and new candidates in order to counter old politicians and unprecedented politics.