Ugo Okere, a Democratic candidate for Chicago city council, said Thursday he believes democratic socialism should have total control over how people live.
In a Thursday interview with the left-wing Jacobin, Okere was asked to define democratic socialism, and he gave a remarkably expansive answer.
"Democratic socialism, to me, is about democratic control of every single facet of our life," he said. "Government is led by the people, not by big corporations, not by multibillionaires, and working people actually have control over who we elect to be our politicians, over how elections work, and over how our government is structured. People have the power."
Okere went on to say he believes socialism should guide a society's entire course, not just its political structures:
Democratic socialism even extends to our relationships and how we treat each other. [It looks] at the world through a socialist-feminist lens, in how we treat people who are black, who are brown, who are femme, who are non-binary, who are gender-nonconforming, and who are working class.
To me, we’ll have achieved democratic socialism not when there is no conflict in the world, but when our societies are not governed based on power, but are governed based on the mutual understanding that everybody deserves a decent and quality life.
This socialist vision of society seeks to overturn the existing order and should not be confused with the mainstream progressive left, Okere explained.
"One part of the Left wants to reform the existing society that we have now. They want to make changes that will make life easier, that will make life not so bad," he said. "But there’s another side of the Left that wants to radically transform the way the world works — not simply say that we can make some changes here and there and that things will be alright."
Okere has received the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America, which backs such progressive leaders as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.). He faces incumbent Alderman Patrick O’Connor, who has been in office since 1983, as well as three other candidates. Although it's a tough race, Okere said he's happy enough just to be spreading socialist ideology.
"This campaign is literally making socialists, and I’m proud of that," he said.