No, Democrats are not Communists: Political Spectrum 101
GameStop’s stock market trends have surprised and bewildered people across the country. Yet what seemed to be even more surprising about the situation was seeing convinced Conservative Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) agree with one of the most famous progressives on the left: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.).
These members of Congress have the same goal as elected officials (which is, of course, to represent the citizens who elected them), so why were we so shocked to see them agree on something?
Maybe that’s because we see them on totally different sides of the political spectrum.
Although the Democratic and Republican parties closely correspond to liberal and conservative ideologies, respectively (it was not always so, but it is a history lesson for another time), with the intense political polarization in our country, we tend to label the party opposed to extremes (former President Donald J. Trump regularly referring to the left as “Communist”).
In reality, however, Democrats and Republicans are actually much closer than we think.
Much of the misunderstanding and misleading in American politics is fundamentally rooted in a lack of understanding of this spectrum and of who really sits where. So I’m here to break it down for you.
Let’s start by breaking the left wing of the political spectrum. This wing ranges from liberalism (the most moderate) to communism (the most progressive). Although leftist ideologies are far from homogeneous, dedication to progress is a common theme.
In February 2019, Fox News said the expected salaries for Ocasio-Cortez staff amounted to “socialism and communism in the spotlight.” But is paying your staff a living wage really the same as communism?
Communism, a political and economic doctrine attributed to Karl Marx, aims to replace private property and an economy based on profit with public property and communal control (of the means of production and natural resources), according to Story. Although communism is often considered a more advanced form of socialism, there are significant differences between the two.
Socialism, unlike Communism, still allows people to own private property, according to history. Industrial production – which would be under the total control of the people under communism – is managed by a democratically elected government in a socialist system.
Another main difference is that while communism seeks to overthrow the rich, socialism seeks to reform society through existing democratic practices. Socialists do not believe that individuals should work in isolation, but rather believe that they should operate in cooperation, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
This central tenant opposes socialism to capitalism since socialists complain that capitalism leads to exploitative concentrations of wealth in the hands of a privileged few who will use this power to strengthen their domination in society, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica.
In essence, socialism is a less intense version of communism, but it rewards individual effort.
Democrats often move away of the “l-word” to avoid being considered a radical. But what does liberalism really support as an ideology? Liberalism, although the political etiquette has changed considerably in American politics, is fundamentally about protecting the rights of the individual by supporting government and regulating capitalism, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
This idea differs depending on which region of the world you are from, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica. American liberalism is associated with New Deal welfare state policies under the administration of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This era saw reforms in industry, agriculture, finance, hydropower, labor, and housing – all of which helped lift America out of the Great Depression.
Liberalism in Europe, on the other hand, is more in line with limited government policies and laissez-faire economics.
Now that we’ve talked about the left, let’s forget about the moderates in the middle and focus on the right of the political spectrum. This wing ranges from conservatism to fascism, but among all the leanings there is a common theme of preserving traditional values.
In the United States, the Conservatives are seen as diametrically opposed to the Liberals. Conservatism is a political ideology that promotes the importance of traditional beliefs and institutions.
The fundamental objective of conservatism is to preserve social order and to preserve long-standing political arrangements. Some of the most popular pillars include low taxes, a small government, a strong army, and traditional social values, according to The Washington Post. If you want to know more, I recommend you to check This article.
Libertarianism firmly believes that individual freedom is the key to a free society, and it can even be understood as a form of liberalism. It is a type of system considered liberal in matters of individual freedoms but conservative in economic matters.
Conservative and libertarian rhetoric on certain subjects, in particular financial, seem very similar. But, compared to conservatives, libertarians are much stricter on issues like gun control. While libertarians and conservatives are likely to share a value system based on individual freedom, libertarians view conservatives as too willing to compromise that value system.
I grouped them farther to the right than the Conservatives because of the apparent “libertarian pipeline to alt-right. “People who start out as regular libertarians get closer to Charlottesville protesters wielding tiki torches. That’s a long explanation, so I recommend you check out this article.
Fascism is an ideology that freezes the blood of all American students who have heard of WWII. Associated with Adolf Hitler and the heinous acts he may have committed, fascism is seen as dangerous.
In short, “fascism is a movement which promotes the idea of a monolithic and regimented nation under the control of an autocratic ruler”, according to Time Magazine.
In this system, everything that is considered dangerous for national unity must be eliminated by violence, because violence is considered beneficial for society and necessary for the maintenance of social order.
While this list attempts to be fair to all sides of the political spectrum, I will end this section by echoing former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s thoughts on the question, “Fascism is a disease.
Now that we’ve walked a simplified version of the political spectrum (yes, I know I skipped Marxists and Democratic Socialists etc – forgive me) you can roll your eyes with confidence next time someone calls. your favorite democrat a communist. But, hopefully, this list has encouraged you to look beyond the Democratic and Republican binary that categorizes our national politics.