When some people hear that Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist, it’s apparent that, to them, he might as well be saying he is a Communist.
I think a lot of us have vague memories of learning about Socialism in school, but we don’t really understand what it is….we just know it sounds kind of un-American. It conjures up images of Big Brother making us all wear the same crappy clothes and eat the same crappy food because no one can be better than anyone else and we have to share everything.
Socialism Isn’t a Bad Word…but Oligarchy is.
Socialism is really about taxpayer funds being used collectively to benefit society as a whole — without regard to your income, your individual contribution, or your ability. It’s about collective ownership of some (important) things to benefit society as a whole. Socialist programs operate well within a democracy — they are not mutually exclusive.
And as it turns out, America is full of Socialist programs.
Have you ever benefited from any of these?
- The U.S. Military
The United States military operates thanks to our taxpayer dollars and protects the country as a whole.
- Highways, Bridges and Roads
Tax dollars are used to maintain, expand, and preserve our highways and roads for every one’s use.
- Public Schools
Can you afford to send your children to an expensive private school? If not, your child can still get an education thanks to this socialist program.
- Police and Fire Departments
Have you ever had to call the Police or Fire Department? Weren’t you glad they were there to call?
- Farm Subsidies
Our government uses taxpayer dollars to supplement farmers’ income so they can keep growing food for the public.
- FBI and CIA
Both government-funded agencies
- Social Security
You may not take advantage of this program yet, but ask some older folks how much they rely on it.
- Public Transportation
- Jails/Prisons, Public Libraries, Sewer System……I really could go on and on
The point is that we all enjoy and benefit from Socialist programs every day.
So, What is “Democratic Socialism”?
Matt Taibbi put it this way in his Give ‘Em Hell, Bernie article for Rolling Stone …
“But Bernie Sanders is not Bukharin or Trotsky. His concept of “Democratic Socialism” as I’ve come to understand it over the years is that an elected government should occasionally step in and offer an objection or two toward our progress to undisguised oligarchy. Or, as in the case of not giving tax breaks to companies who move factories overseas, our government should at least not finance the disappearance of the middle class.”
Democratic socialism means having a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system. We still have our democracy….we don’t lose our individuality, but we fund programs collectively to benefit Americans as a society.
America’s Slide Into Oligarchy
I looked it up — put simply, Oligarchy means “Rule by the Rich”.
It’s a power structure in which power (effectively) rests with a small number of people. (Think Panem in the Hunger Games or the Inner Party in George Orwell’s 1984.)
This “small number of people” is the Billionaire Class that Bernie is always talking about.
If the Koch brothers (2 individuals) have more money most of us can even conceive of…. and they are using it to purchase political influence and candidates, do our votes even count anymore?
Oligarchy is the real dirty word here, and it heralds the decline of our great democracy.
Join the Political Revolution!