Most Democrats identify as liberals for first time, underscoring leftward tilt of party
White House office of public engagement associate director under President Obama Raul Alvillar and Stampede Consulting partner Holly Turner weigh in on newly-elected Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s plans.
Most Democrats identify as liberals for the first time, according to an analysis released Tuesday -- marking the latest sign of a leftward shift of the Democratic Party as it lurches to the fringes on issues such as Medicare-for-all, amnesty for illegal immigrants and a “Green New Deal.”
According to the Gallup study, based on polling data, the percentage of Democrats identifying as liberal averaged 51 percent in 2018. That was up from 50 percent in 2017, but underscores a steady increase over the years. In 1994, only 25 percent identified as liberal and another 25 percent identified as conservative. Among Americans overall, conservatives outnumbered liberals by nine points, although that is down from 19 points in Gallup's first poll in 1992.
The study is the latest evidence of a party that is swinging to the left, adopting positions in its mainstream that were once on the fringes of party debate -- particularly on health care, economics and immigration.
On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to launch “the largest, most comprehensive plan in the nation” to guarantee health care for all in the city -- including illegal immigrants.
“While the federal government works to gut health care for millions of Americans, New York City is leading the way by guaranteeing that every New Yorker has access to quality, comprehensive access to care, regardless of immigration status or their ability to pay,” he said in a statement.
De Blasio's announcement came after California's new Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a similarly ambitious health care agenda for his state, aimed at offering more benefits to illegal immigrants and protecting ObamaCare. Medi-Cal, the state's health insurance program, now will let illegal immigrants remain on the rolls until they are 26, up from 19, according to Newsom's new agenda.
Those left-wing voices presenting once-fringe ideas are also growing louder in Washington, particularly among the new intake of members in the House who have been bolder in embracing left-wing policy proposals and terms like “Democratic Socialism.”
A New York Times analysis found that one-third of Senate Democrats and more than half of House Democrats have endorsed Medicare-for-all proposals -- including a number of possible 2020 presidential hopefuls.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of the new members in the House and a rising Democratic star, has pushed universal health care as well as a 70 percent tax on top earners to fund an expansive “Green New Deal” that she said would be a “wartime-level, just economic mobilization plan to get to 100% renewable energy.”
A draft text circulated around Congress calls for a select committee to be formed to create a plan, and lays out a framework that includes eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and agriculture and “dramatically” expanding energy sources to meet 100 percent of power demand through renewable sources.
If that wasn’t ambitious enough, the proposal describes this as “a historic opportunity to virtually eliminate poverty in the United States and to make prosperity, wealth and economic security available to everyone participating in the transformation." Its proposals on the economic front include a job guarantee program that offers “a living wage job to every person who wants one,” a “just transition” for workers affected by climate change, basic income programs, universal health care “and any others as the select committee may deem appropriate to promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism.”
So far a number of House members, as well as top 2020 prospects, have offered their support to the proposal.
It is therefore no surprise that Ocasio-Cortez has embraced the term “Democratic socialism.” Another new House member Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. In the Senate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has called himself a Democratic socialist and ran a vigorous 2016 primary challenge to ultimate nominee Hillary Clinton.
The mood in Congress has extended to voters, in particular young people and Democrats, who polls have shown are warming to socialism over capitalism.
A Gallup poll in August showed that 51 percent of 18-29 year-olds back socialism, compared with 47 percent who back capitalism. Meanwhile, 57 percent of Democrats say they hold a positive view of socialism, compared with just 47 percent who support capitalism.
Fox News reached out to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip James Clyburn and the Democratic National Committee to ask if they thought socialism was a good thing for America. They did not respond.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas and Maxim Lott contributed to this report.