SOCIALISTS DID NOT sweep the midterms. That is because it would have been mathematically impossible for socialists to sweep the midterms. For all the ink and pixels spilled, there weren't actually very many of them on the ballot. Forty-six Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) candidates won primaries in 2018. Of those, 14 were backed by the national Democratic Party and only four were running for the U.S. House. Most prominent among them was New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed a few more candidates on her own as well.
Ocasio-Cortez won her congressional race in a landslide, as did Rashida Tlaib in Michigan. But DSA's Sarah Smith was beaten out by Democrat Adam Smith in Washington's unusual Smith vs. Smith congressional race, and James Thompson lost in Kansas to Republican budget hawk Rep. Ron Estes. Ocasio-Cortez fave Ayanna Pressley, a non-DSA progressive, did win in Massachusetts.
In short, no red tide hiding inside a blue wave swept over Capitol Hill. There aren't even many socialists warming statehouse backbench seats this winter--at press time only six additional DSA candidates had been declared victorious, alongside a handful of hyperlocal wins, such as for neighborhood commissions and boards of education.
Voters are hardy going socialist either. DSA membership has grown from 7,000 to 50,000 since President Donald Trump was elected. But despite the prevalence of the red rose emojis that so-called New Socialists use to signal their allegiances on Twitter, and despite the ubiquity of Ocasio-Cortez's red lipstick on cable news, those numbers are quite small. For perspective, the Libertarian Party has more than half a million registered voters.
Socialists have not seized control of the country, but they did manage to grab a nice juicy handful of the debate. What was once the province of white-haired dead-enders has now become the primary source of fresh new ideas in American politics.
All of the major Democratic contenders for 2020 have floated at least one signature Sorta Socialist Policy Plank already. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has a plan to aggressively regulate all corporations at the board level, plus a big subsidy for homebuyers in previously redlined neighborhoods called the American Housing and Mobility Act. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is offering a $500 monthly refundable tax credit to poor families with her Livable Incomes for Families Today (LIFT) Act, which is essentially the Earned Income Tax Credit on...