The Democratic Socialists of America have expanded its ranks by an estimated 10,000 members since March — and organizers say that the growth is likely a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
A DSA spokesperson told The Atlantic that the group, whose membership now totals about 66,000 nationwide, hasn't had a surge like this since the election of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2018.
What's driving the uptick?
"The present moment seems especially ripe for socialist outrage," the outlet suggested, making mention of anti-lockdown demonstrations around the country and governors reopening businesses ahead of health officials' recommendations.
For some, it appears, these are examples of too much liberty.
Others point to an alleged failure of the market system: "People are really starting to just look around and say, 'man, capitalism isn't working,'" the co-chair of the Detroit DSA chapter told The Atlantic. "If the markets can't even produce hand sanitizer or toilet paper or masks during a plague — what good is this system?"
Still others are joining the socialist cause simply in protest of the pandemic response.
"Anyone who lives with a little precarity in their life ... could see that the overall response to the pandemic was completely insufficient," the Twin Cities DSA director said. "We seized on that moment."
Then, check out this revealing paragraph from the article:
Right now, the DSA is emphasizing recruitment, framing their efforts as giving struggling workers "a way to fight back," the DSA Denver labor chair, Mariah Wood, told me. Her chapter ... has organized more than 200 laid-off service workers as part of a citywide campaign to urge Governor Jared Polis to cancel rent and mortgage payments. The chapter teamed up with other local groups, including the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and several trade unions, to urge the Denver City Council to help lobby the state government, which it did.
"[These days], people are enthusiastically working with the DSA," Wood said. "It's a good time to be a socialist."
One glaring problem
The uptick in socialist registrations appears to be driven by displeasure with the government's response to the pandemic, but socialism's answer to the problem is inevitably more government involvement.
Take for example, DSA Denver's initiative to cancel rent and mortgage payments.
The most natural solution to the problem would be to reopen businesses so that people can afford rent and mortgage payments, since the problem was caused by government shutting down the economy in the first place. Instead, the DSA fought to expand government power, calling on officials to cancel the rent and mortgage payments — which, don't forget, really just means that money from some taxpayers will go toward covering the living expenses of others.
Nevertheless, the Atlantic report noted that the "surge in membership isn't likely to seriously affect the politics of the broader Democratic Party" since the DSA is still comparatively small. The group's 66,000 members pales in comparison to even the Libertarian Party in America, which boasts 600,000 registered members.
Yet, it's worth noting that even though only 10,000 formally registered as socialists, the number of people embracing socialism as a result of the pandemic is likely much larger than that.