Meghan McCain gets worked up over Democratic Socialism

This exchange between Meghan McCain and Joy Behar actually happened yesterday, but it got some additional attention today on Twitter thanks to a tweet from a Buzzfeed writer. Here’s the clip:

First off, that tweet is a cheap shot. McCain never said anything about Democratic Socialists coming for her inherited wealth, she said anyone who supports democratic socialism should start paying 90% taxes now. In any case, the Buzzfeed tweet got another boost from Soledad O’Brien earlier today:

That led to McCain and O’Brien trading shots:

As for the video itself, McCain correctly cited Venezuela as an example of democratic socialism gone horribly wrong and then suggested Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be pressed to name an example of a country where socialism has worked.

At that point, Joy Behar offered the Scandinavian countries as an example of places where socialism works. That sounds good but it’s actually a bit misleading to call the Scandinavian model Democratic Socialism. It’s actually social democracy, i.e. capitalism with a heavy social safety net. The difference between the two is substantial.

Social democracy is basically piling on a lot more public programs (at tremendous expense) on the engine of capitalism. Democratic socialism is the gradual erosion of capitalism altogether in favor of public ownership of everything. It’s not entirely clear where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez draws that line. Recently, she was asked about capitalism and suggested that it might not be around in the future. “I do think we are going to see an evolution in our economic system of an unprecedented degree,” Ocasio-Cortez said. That sounds a lot like true Democratic Socialism, i.e. the elimination of capitalism altogether which, again, is not what is happening in Scandinavia. Sweden, for example, has actually pulled back from Democratic Socialism in the couple decades.

A few years ago I pulled this video of Democratic Socialist and Temple Professor Joseph Schwartz explaining the difference between the two at a socialist gathering. Schwartz points out that Scandinavian socialists do sometimes use the two interchangeably, partly because they want to move the country toward true Democratic Socialism. Perhaps the better question Meghan McCain could ask Ocasio-Cortez is whether her idea of socialism stops at Sweden or continues on to Venezuela.