Socialists in Tennessee apparently have even more influence over the Tennessee Democratic Party than previously believed, including at the state level.
Julie Gautreau (pictured), who represents the Knoxville chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, said as much to The Tennessee Star Tuesday.
“A lot of DSA members are members of political parties,” Gautreau said.
“I don’t have the statistics, but a lot of them are Democrats. We have members of our DSA chapter who are very active in the local Democratic Party and also in state Democratic Party politics.”
Gautreau did not name names.
The Knoxville chapter has about 165 members, she said.
Gautreau said she did not know how many DSA members Tennessee has statewide.
The DSA, she went on, came into existence in April 2016. Even though many members support Democrats it is still a non-partisan organization, she said.
Members of the Tennessee Democratic Party did not return a request for comment Tuesday. Neither did anyone from the campaigns of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen or Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean.
A recent press release from the Tennessee Republican Party, however, had something to say about this new breed of Democrat.
“Democrats Karl Dean and Phil Bredesen are running around Tennessee claiming to be moderates, but their own donors, supporters and state party are committed to the far left and liberal agenda of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden.
“As they reach for the extremes on the left, the Tennessee Democratic Party is leaving behind every day Tennesseans. Bill Lee and Marsha Blackburn are representing Tennessee values, not those of radicalized socialists.”
Citing a new Gallup poll, USA Today reported most Democrats no longer think highly of capitalism. Nearly 60 percent of Democrats feel better about socialism.
“More than 70 percent of Republicans, on the other hand, see capitalism positively, while only 16 percent of them have a positive view of socialism,” the paper reported.
“Faith in the invisible hand of the market weakened most among young Americans. While 57 percent of those between ages 18 and 29 viewed capitalism positively in 2016, only 45 percent felt the same way in 2018.”
Gautreau said that’s where socialists see hope — young people — even in a red state like Tennessee.
“I do see evidence in media that more and more young people are questioning capitalism as they look at their economic circumstances versus what was available to their parents’ generation,” Gautreau said, citing what she said are high student loans and jobs that pay less.
“We’re already making a lot of progress. We wouldn’t be doing the work we are doing if we didn’t think it possible or even likely that we can move the state away from the deep red that it is now.”
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