Ironically, it will take a Democratic Socialist movement to prevent the current Capitalist system, lacking in oversite regulations, rife with corruption and influence peddling resulting in massive financial inequities vastly favoring the superrich, from imploding onto itself.
It will take a Democratic Socialist movement to promote governmental sponsorship of previously private and semi-private sector institutions, such as insurance and retirement policy corporations and educational establishments.
It will take a Democratic Socialist movement to compel the United States to live up to its overriding promise that anyone can succeed depending on their motivation, merit, talent neither helped nor hindered by their socioeconomic birth ranking or their social identities.
It will take a Democratic Socialist movement to ensure a firm and strong safety net to catch everyone who has for any reason been unable to ascend.
No, Democratic Socialism is not a magic panacea or some unattainable utopian vision from a futuristic film. Instead, Democratic Socialism provides a concrete foundation of action for real life to lift our nation from the ever-widening social and economic abyss in which we find ourselves, an abyss that poses an existential crisis far greater than any threat from foreign military or cyber invasion.
Young people, especially those steeped in history – or possibly protected from its murky shadows – can educate their elders who grew up in earlier generations when “Socialist” was thrown as an evil and corrosive epithet.
The type of Democratic Socialism proposed of, for example, Senator Bernie Sanders (and while not referring to herself as a “Democratic Socialist,” Elizabeth Warren has articulated similar plans), is completely dissimilar from the crime and fraud-laded freedom killing National Socialism ruthlessly imposed by the German Nazis; from the governmental system inflicted within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); or the ruthless Socialism of Venezuela and the Communism of Mainland China and North Korea.
Rather, the Democratic Socialism outlined by Bernie Sanders and the movement he has spawned resembles more the social and economic systems of the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.
As destructive and as freedom-killing as the Right would have us believe, according to the World English Dictionary, Socialism involves “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole,” where each of us has a stake and advances in the success of our collective economy.
No country in the world today stands as a fully Socialist state, but rather, some of the most successful economies combine elements of Capitalism with Socialism to create greater degrees of equity and lesser disparities between the rich, the poor, and those on the continuum in between.
This year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conducted its “Better Life Index” to determine the “happiest countries in the world,” according to its residents. Based on an 11-measure survey assessing quality of life, including housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, health, work-life balance, and life satisfaction, all of the Scandinavian countries, plus Netherlands, Iceland, and Switzerland, Canada, plus Australia, and New Zealand reached the top 10 ranked countries.
Included in descending order are number one, Finland, followed by Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands, Canada, (which provides a single-payer health care system unlike its North American neighbor, the United States), New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia (which places severe restrictions on firearms ownership).
The United States did not make the cut in the top 10 but came in at 17 (down two places from the previous year). Therefore, we might do well to look to these countries for some of their Socialist policies that sustain high levels of quality of life issues for their residents.
“Socialism” No Longer an Epithet?
“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country….Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
In his second State of the Union Address in January 2019, Donald Trump set a major theme for his 2020 Presidential bid by throwing to his base the red meat of Socialism characterizing it as an anti-American freedom-killing political philosophy.
Many on the political right have established the false binary of Capitalism on one side and Socialism/Communism on the other. But when we get beyond the fear and false generalizations and connections to tyrannical corrupt dictatorships, is Socialism really so “anti-American”?
Even before the Cold War and the so-called “McCarthy Era” (named after Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy), individuals and groups on the political and theocratic Right have flung the term “Socialist” as an expletive from their metaphoric slingshots into the faces of their political opponents to discredit their characters and dismiss their political ideas and policies, and to sway the electorate toward a Conservative agenda.
The type of Democratic Socialism proposed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren include policies to protect and enhance our Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid safety nets.
It advocates for the further nationalization of our parks, forests, mountains, rivers, streams, shores, and offshore waters, rather than allocating increased corporate mining, drilling, and timber rights.
It provides free and quality education, not only through grade 12, but throughout higher education in public colleges and universities and after for everyone who desires and works to achieve their fullest educational potential.
It advances a government-sponsored program that guarantees our seniors a retirement system that ensures a high quality of life free from economic burdens.
It furthers the rights of workers to organize and to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions.
It helps to eliminate workplace and larger societal inequalities based on race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship status, age, sex, sexual identity, gender identity and expression, disability, socioeconomic standing, religion, and other social identities.
It works to ensure that everyone is guaranteed a comfortable and secure place to live, and fights against a banking system that forecloses people’s homes through scurrilous business practices.
It mandates effective governmental regulations on food producers to safeguard our food supply and protect against the maltreatment of animals, and on corporations, companies, and individuals to defend our environment.
It supports clear restrictions on the political process to prevent mammoth contributions by individuals and corporations to buy and own politicians to influence public policy, while locking out individuals and groups unable to amass large political funds.
It challenges a military industrial complex that marches to the beat of industry, and a prison industrial complex that perpetuates the racial and socioeconomic class inequities pervasive throughout the society.
It contests and advocates for effective restrictions on the so-called “free market” economic system that enables the creation and enhancement of mega monopolies, outsourcing of jobs, manufacture of defective products, and inhibition in the development of clean renewable energy technologies.
It demands a true progressive tax structure where everyone pays their fair share, one that inhibits massive inequities in the overwhelming accumulation of wealth by the top one percent of the nation as is currently the case.
It will take more, though, than a President to do this. It will take Houses of Congress to propose and pass legislation and the courts to maintain policies and regulations making the Capitalist system more equitable and sustainable, and to conduct genuine oversite functions that prior Congresses relinquished.
Yes, it will take a Democratic Socialist movement to save Capitalism from itself. Whodathunkit?
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