Representative Ocasio-Cortez is one step beyond, dismaying the Sanders campaign by using her campaign appearances to, among other things, encourage law-breaking by and for illegal immigrants: “Organizing is about tipping people off if you start to see that ICE and CBP are in communities to try and keep people safe,” she says. Organizing to keep law-enforcement agencies from enforcing the law in order to abet illegal behavior isn’t politics — it is criminal conspiracy. Senator Sanders may not care much about that, but he does not want to spend 2020 explaining it away, either.
That is because Senator Sanders’s appeal is a nationalist appeal, and the senator himself is, at heart, a nationalist, as indeed were the Democratic giants of American progressivism who preceded him spiritually: Franklin Roosevelt, above all, but also Woodrow Wilson. Representative Ocasio-Cortez is an anti-nationalist, one whose sensibility (it would be too much to describe her posturing as “ideas”) is more oriented toward trans-national class solidarity. Which is to say, her socialism is more of the international variety, whereas Sanders’s socialism is more of the nationalist variety, one that is in tune with familiar Democratic appeals to “economic patriotism” and denunciations of “economic traitors,” which is what Democrats called Mitt Romney when he ran for president in 2012. As my friend Jonah Goldberg argues, on economic questions, “nationalism” and “socialism” end up meaning the same thing: An industry that is nationalized is one that is socialized, and one that is socialized is one that is nationalized.