Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that she rejects the socialist ideology recently embraced by the left wing of her caucus and claimed that it does not represent a consensus position within the Democratic party.
During an appearance on 60 Minutes Sunday evening, Pelosi told CBS’s Leslie Stahl that the party has not succumbed to socialism despite the fact that all of its top 2020 presidential contenders have endorsed the elimination of the private health-insurance market.
“It is allowing [President Donald Trump] to say, ‘You’re all socialists,’” Stahl said of the party’s attachment to Medicare-for-all.
“Do you know that when we did — when Medicare was done by the Congress at the time, under Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan said, ‘Medicare will lead us to a socialist dictatorship.’ This is an ongoing theme of the Republicans,” Pelosi replied. “However — I do reject socialism as a economic system. If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic party.”
While some of the party’s presidential-primary candidates, including former representative Beto O’Rourke and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), have rejected the socialist label, they have, like the rest of their rivals, endorsed many of the policies initially championed by avowed socialist Bernie Sanders. Tuition-free higher education, Medicare-for-all, and support for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal have all emerged as early litmus tests.
Pelosi, meanwhile, has attempted to ward off allegations that the party’s brand has been defined by the direct, social-media-driven politics of freshman progressives like Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
“That’s like five people,” Pelosi told Stahl when asked about the outsize influence wielded by Ocasio-Cortez and her cohort.