Here's how socialism went mainstream in American politics

The rise of socialism in America

Socialism used to be a scary word in the U.S.

Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have helped to catapult it back into mainstream American politics.

Both are self-proclaimed Democratic Socialists who have tapped into a huge and angry voting bloc of the country's disillusioned youth by promising radical and progressive changes to the system. But this swell of popularity for anti-capitalist political ideas has also triggered new fervor against socialism.

President Donald Trump has already started to capitalize on the ideological rift within the Democratic Party by weaponizing the word socialism. "America will never be a socialist country," he told a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. "We believe in the American dream, not in the socialist nightmare."

Still, as the policy ideas of Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders gain momentum, a lingering question remains: Is Democratic Socialism a fad or the future of liberal politics in the U.S.?

In this latest video explainer from CNBC, we look at the history of socialism in America, its recent surge in popularity, and whether the growing divide in the Democratic Party will play a role in the 2020 presidential race.

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