The new, 116th Congress, is home to a new generation of young Democrats who are more liberal than ever before. In fact, some of the most vocal new members—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Rashida Tlaib are also members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). They represent the growing voting bloc of young people denouncing capitalism.
This has been a trend since the 2016 elections, when Bernie Sanders became the most popular man across all college campuses. But why are so many young people turning on capitalism? Perhaps it is because what they often see is not capitalism but crony capitalism, which is a distortion of the real thing.
The Detroit News featured a thought provoking piece this past week attributing the recent rise in democratic socialists to the rampant crony capitalism that has given true capitalism a bad name.
Matthew Mitchell, a senior research fellow and director at the Mercatus Center, explains, “The political elite tilt the economic playing field in favor of the economic elite, privileging them through subsidies, regulatory protections, and targeted tax breaks.” This relationship is beneficial for both parties because the economic elite then “help to ensure that the political elite remain in power.”
Genuine free-market capitalism has no special political protections for the economically powerful. The problem is that this generation of anti-capitalists don't see the value of capitalism because they have seen so much in the way of crony capitalism. They demand that we acknowledge the difference between “democratic socialism” and regular socialism—but don't distinguish between capitalism and its distortion.
Allegations of cronyism have been made at all levels of government. Recently on the federal level, the U.S. Government Publishing Office is under investigation for their irregular hiring practices. We can see the effect in different sectors such as the food or energy industries in their regulations that benefit special interest groups.
Cronyism is often overlooked in the upper circles of our government and the American taxpayers are the ones who end up paying the price. If there is any hope for the millennial generation to regain acceptance and appreciation of capitalism, we must work to call out those abusing capitalism.