Column: ‘Women, doctors, local political leaders’: How Dr. Oz handed Democrats a path to victory
When you meet celebrity physician Dr. Oz, you probably imagine the affable doctor handing out prescriptions and cures to children with diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, or treating people with the flu when he’s stuck in traffic. In fact, Oz is best-known for his anti-vaccine activism. The actor-turned-doctor has been a vocal critic of vaccines and has been filmed making bizarre anti-vaccine comments on several occasions, including claiming that vaccines cause autism, making fun of parents who use Tylenol in the event of a vaccine-preventable disease, making fun of kids who miss a shot because they went to the bathroom, and making the suggestion that you should get a flu vaccine when in fact you should only get a flu vaccine in the event that you have symptoms of influenza. For the past 10 years, Oz has become a regular speaker at the Democratic Socialists of America, including the DSA’s first presidential candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, and its first vice presidential candidate, Jane O’Malley, who endorsed Barack Obama for president over Hillary Clinton in 2008. In many ways, the fact that Oz is a celebrity, but at the same time is a well-known anti-vaccine activist, is almost a contradiction in terms. Yet, here are some of the reasons why the DSA has been attracted to Dr. Oz.
First, as we previously reported, the DSA is an especially anti-imperialist organization whose platform emphasizes global democracy and social revolution. So for its members, a platform that includes anti-vaccine activists like Dr. Oz makes perfect sense — an anti-imperialist who supports a social revolution that will put an end to the exploitation of workers in the Third World is an easier sell than someone who is a critic of war and poverty.
Second, and perhaps more important, the DSA represents a new anti-imperialist class. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the most pressing question facing revolutionary socialists who are members of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), like us, was how the various countries of the former Yugoslavia would respond to the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe. The Yugoslav socialist experiment collapsed under the weight of its enormous internal contradictions (a declining standard of living, rising levels of political repression, and the fact that most people