The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) recently announced that its party scored a record number of members since World War II, a trend largely driven by incentives for free college, universal healthcare, and hefty taxing of the top one percent. The activist organization currently boasts 25,000 members, which represents an almost 300 percent increase from last year.
National Director of the Democratic Socialists of America, Maria Svart, noted that the election fueled a dramatic swing towards socialism and an increased fervor for its defining principles. “Since the elections, tens of thousands of democratic socialists have come together to build a future for this country in which everyone has the right to a decent job, a good home, a free college education for their children, and healthcare for their family,” Svart stated.
Experts project the spike in DSA’s membership to continue to rise, and why shouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t want (however economically ludicrous it might be) to study at state-of-the-art institutions that are equipped with multi-million dollar research laboratories, studios, and sports facilities without ever paying a penny? Who wouldn’t want to achieve a comfortable standard of living based not on your own income potential, but on leeching off of your neighbors?
Yet what appears most terrifying about the renewed hype for socialism is not its erroneous economic outlook, but the perverse ideologies it espouses that are championed under the banner of social justice, equality, and solidarity. Since its conception, socialism has never been about uplifting underprivileged populations, but playing the victim card to unfairly demand other’s property. If this were untrue, we should expect that socialists raking in large bucks from traveling the country and telling Americans how to live their lives would practice what they preach and start dishing over their income. But where are these people? Unsurprising to the rest of us, they don’t exist because your hard earned cash isn’t up for grabs and others can’t dictate how you spend it. The entire socialist movement is therefore rooted in massive hypocrisy that wants to benefit from capitalism and clench onto individual earnings, while inflicting their policies onto others.
Yet what terrifies me more than a hypocritical movement that can’t figure out basic economics is its reliance on envy. In his book Stealing America, Dinesh D’Souza argues that envy is one of the major vices feeding off of America today. Envy is unlike hostility or lust, as it often festers in our minds and only rarely manifests itself overtly. But what makes envy especially toxic is that it generates a sense of insecurity that doesn’t desire to uplift one’s social or economic position, but to drag others down to your own way of life. Envy doesn’t fuel a passion to turn the car into full gear until you make that six figure salary, land that dream job, or nurture meaningful relationships. It rather assumes that if I’m unhappy, everyone must be unhappy. If my salary is $50,000, everyone must be making $50,000. If some kids get their diploma without taking a hit to the bank, than so should I.
To this day, I fail to understand the allurement attached to the socialist movement because I was raised to appreciate our country’s recognition of hard work, vision and resiliency. I started a piggy-bank in first grade, which I used to collect loose change that would someday contribute to my college fund. I studied around the clock to earn the grades needed to land generous college scholarships and afford rigorous, private education. I understood from a very young age that I could mold my future by being a product of my choices and not a victim.
But I’m afraid we live in a society that doesn’t believe in choices. We worship entitlement, and the drastic rise within the DSA proves just that. The resurgence of socialism is naturally disconcerting. Given its desire to catalytically restructure the United States, socialism far exceeds fundamental differences in policy; it touches upon the cornerstone of morality. It is therefore up to us to decide what values are going to guide the moral compass of future generations. And I pray that we might be a society who knows how to give and not take, earn and not steal, acquire and not demand, and dream and not disdain.