For most of America, the Democratic Socialists of America first entered mainstream consciousness in 2016 when Vermont Senator and DSA-endorsed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders ran a surprisingly strong campaign to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Two years later, the unheralded Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with DSA support, knocked off Democratic Caucus Chair and 10-term Congressman Joe Crowley in a New York congressional primary. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory thrust the Democratic Socialists of America into the national spotlight. Suddenly, it seemed, “socialism” was no longer a pariah in American politics. The roots of the DSA, however, run much deeper. Joshua Kluever is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and is a scholar of socialism in American politics.
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