Maurice Isserman

Political magazine In These Times recently published an essay by Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History, about the growing number of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) members elected to national office. In “Congress Now Has More Socialists Than Ever Before in U.S. History,” Isserman discussed the 2020 election results that doubled the number of DSA members serving in Congress.

The essay follows one he wrote after the 2018 elections that brought DSA members Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to the House of Representatives. Isserman wrote that with their re-election and wins this year by Missouri’s Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman from New York, this is “the first time in U.S. history that this many self-described socialists have held Congressional seats concurrently.”

He said that previously, the number of “self-described socialists” holding Congressional seats concurrently was two, when the terms of Ron Dellums (Oakland) and Major Owens (Brooklyn) overlapped for a number of years in the 1980s and 90s.

“At this rate, doubling the socialist delegation every two years,” Isserman joked, “it’d only take six more elections before socialists in 2032 would become a majority in the House — exponential growth is a wonderful thing.”

Given that the current democratic socialists in Congress are relatively young, and taking into consideration the long tenures of both Dellums and Owens, Isserman said the current group probably “won’t be going away anytime soon, whether or not they’re joined by other DSAers in years to come.

“Barring the unforeseen,” he added, “they will likely prove a stable core of socialist strength in Congress for decades to come (unless elected to higher office, a real possibility).”

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