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The Left and the City: Democratic Socialism and Women’s Spring in Elections

In the 1990s, for an adolescent girl who still did not know well the definitions of feminism although she already identified the prejudice experienced by women, some productions of the cultural industry are iconic. In music, the boom of girl bands like Spice Girls or Destiny’s Child represented young women who had their own opinions and faced their partners when necessary. On television, few series were as successful as Sex and the City, which showed 30-year-old women in their professions, talking openly about sex and conflicts with their partners – boyfriends, husbands or most of the time “hook up”.

Cynthia Nixon is the actress who played Miranda Hobbes, a successful lawyer who is a bit yuppie and self-sufficient, running away from the stereotype presented in the series of women looking for “the guy” to get married. She is also the character who faces the dilemma of having an abortion (in that case, legal), but decides to have the child, addressing the difficulties of being a solo mother in a macho world. In real life, Cynthia has been an activist linked to the defense of education in the United States, along with her partner, Christine Marinoni, in a city where the Save Our Schools movement was able to mobilize not only teachers and students demanding quality education and better working conditions, but parents and activists who are sympathetic to the issue.

It may seem surprising that Cynthia Nixon is running in the Democratic primary against the current state governor, Andrew Di Cuomo. However, after the Bernie Sanders phenomenon and the new generation of young people (the millennials, who grew up in the 2000s) who identify themselves as socialists, the media that has always treated socialism as synonymous with dictatorship are needing to spend a lot of ink and saliva from their editorials to explain the phenomenon of democratic socialism, which has caused DSA to grow so rapidly in recent years.

U.S. policy has historically been polarized between progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans, semelegant in the defense of imperialist policies, the interests of the status quo, and the restriction of labor rights. This polarization was never the same after Bernie Sanders. There is great expectation that he will be the figure capable of defeating Trump in 2020, given that the idea of socialism with freedom has grown widely among those dissatisfied with Democratic policies. In the great mosaic that is politics in every state, in some places the Democrats are simply dismissed as any possibility of representing this new perspective. In some states, such as New York, it is possible to identify candidates who want to pursue this policy by colliding with the Democratic establishment.

The polarization between Conservatives and Progressives in a state of a large Democratic majority (as in the case of New York) has been translated into the primaries themselves, between the party establishment that represents the interests of large corporations, and the left of the party, which increasingly identifies it as a limited instrument to realize the ideas that the label of democratic socialism defends. There is a considerable sector of DSA that has drawn attention to the need to support these independent sectors that can make a political platform that confronts corporate interests enormously broaden the democratic socialist field, especially in the youth field.

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in the Bronx / Queens district primaries, a 28-year-old Latina who defeated Joe Crowley, who had been in office for 20 years through multimillion-dollar campaigns, has become one of the hallmarks of this new process. Declaring himself independent, Ocasio-Cortez demonstrated that the ideas of Medicare for All, university gratuity, minimum wage, are necessary platforms to be carried out, and more, are the most capable of mobilizing the youth that today seeks politics as a means of radical transformation. The same has occurred in Julia Salazar’s campaign to the Senate by Brooklin, challenging the Democratic Party machine that supports its opponent, Senator Martin Dilan, for 16 years in office. Just like Ocasio-Cortez, Julia Salazar is a young, 27-year-old Latin American worker who has faced the interests of real estate corporations, and has the enthusiasm of Millennials, Immigrants, Women, and Blacks identified with ideas of the DSA to defeat the status quo of Brooklyn’s millionaire Democrats.

It is no coincidence that the most prominent names associated with democratic socialism in New York are three women. Nixon, Ocasio-Cortez, and Salazar are the result of one of the most massive movements in American history: the women’s uprising that culminated in the multitudinous Women’s March held by Donald Trump. The role that women have played in US politics – as well as in several other countries, as we can attest in the young names also competing in the Brazilian election campaign, such as Sâmia Bomfim, Fernanda Melchionna, Áurea Carolina, of the PSOL’s Feminist Workbench – passes through what has been known as identity politics, but goes beyond. Defending women’s rights, such as the legalization of abortion (like the unprecedented mobilization in Argentina), the fight against rape culture goes through hard confrontation with representatives of the old politics. This representation, in addition to being symbolic, is quite concrete: women’s rights do not fit into the 1% power project, such as the long dreamed wage equality, the historic banner of feminism since its first wave.

New generation feminism has been able to articulate with the wider critique of the system itself: in capitalism there is a project that requires the commodification of women’s bodies, which must subjugate their work, their reproductive rights, and their own self-esteem to maintain their profits and the privileges of the holders of power. That is why Hillary Clinton is a symbol of an establishment that does not excite this new generation: even defending abortion and identity politics and targeting extremely misogynistic campaigns, it is deeply embedded in the political caste so criticized since Occupy Wall Street, and increasingly by the democratic socialists who defend “feminism for the 99%”.

It is true that victory can not be counted on, because the other extreme of polarization has a clear and reactionary project, which seeks ultraconservative values as an attempt to emerge from a deepening crisis, of which Trump is the chief representative. In Brazil, there is Bolsonaro. However, defending abstract progressivism in the name of the lesser evil has made left-wing movements pay the high cost of disrepute as a result. Although under construction, the program of democratic socialism requires a decided defense, as the young and courageous feminists have done, both there and here.




A new page to support and build new alternatives in Latin America and the world, defending the power of the workers and people against the 1% of the rich and privileged, and a society without exploitation.

Writing office

  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder