In the political spectrum, there are extremes. For the right, there is the Tea Party. For the left, there are the Democratic Socialists. Both represent the extremes of each party’s ideologies. While it can be asserted the Tea Party is more radical, the views of Democratic Socialists certainly represent views that are popular with many extremists in the Democratic Party.
The Tea Party was founded 10 years ago with the Jeffersonian concept of “that which governs best, governs least”. Its supporters oppose taxation, government spending and regulation. Backed by the religious right, the Tea Party was instrumental in the election of Donald Trump. They used the backlash against President Obama to elevate such causes as being anti-abortion, anti same-sex marriage, anti-immigration and pro Second Amendment.
The distrust of government has led many Tea Party followers to make some outrageous claims, such as the existence of a Deep State that seeks to undermine our country. Calling themselves “patriots”, members of the Tea Party see themselves as defenders of the original intent of the Constitution. As a result, they oppose change that is the result of government intervention.
On the other side are the Democratic Socialists.
Led by Sen. Bernie Sanders and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they support universal healthcare and free college tuition. They are pro-choice, support marital freedom and LGBTQ rights and reasonable gun control. While more Democrats are leaning towards universal healthcare and free college tuition, they still represent views that are to the left of the current Democratic platform.
Like Social Security, their views are meant to help those less fortunate through government assistance. They see themselves as supporting the government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. Because of this, they view government assistance as a duty granted in the Constitution.
But are they as extreme as the Tea Party?
Thus far, the answer is “No”, although they haven’t had the opportunity to enact their policies in full force the way the Tea Party, with their representation in Congress, has been able to do. With the possibility of Sanders winning the presidency and representatives such and Ocasio-Cortez gaining in influence, the movement's impact has yet to be decided.
It could be that these two extremes of the parties could lead to a severe fracturing of our political system. Or, perhaps it will lead to the election of a centrist who brings us back together. Only the future will tell.
CJ Waldron is a retired English teacher from upstate New York. An adjunct instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, he lives in Conway, SC with his wife, Donna.