Patsy Porco

The “S” Word

In democratic socialism, politics on February 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm

One thing I really hate is when I turn on a usually funny sitcom and the episode has a serious plot line, or —gasp!— a moral. If I regularly watch a show in order to laugh, I don’t appreciate having that expectation taken away, even for half an hour. I’d go as far as to say that the producers have pulled a bait-and-switch on its audience. Not fair, I say.

Which is exactly what I’m going to do to you, my audience, today. Instead of trying to make you laugh, I’m going to tell you what I think about a subject that is going to make many of you recoil in horror, or at least close my blog. I’m going to talk about the “S” word: Socialism.

Okay, I’m not really. I’m going to talk about democratic socialism, which some people think is the same as socialism. But it’s not. In fact, I think it should be renamed to avoid confusion. Feel free to suggest new names if you’d like. How cool would it be to be the person who renamed a political philosophy? Make sure you include your name in the philosophy so that you’ll get credit for the rest of time. (I hope Donald Trump doesn’t read this and decide to name it Trumpalism.)

Anyway, here goes. Sorry for the betrayal.

Bernie Sanders, a Democratic candidate for President of the United States is a Democratic Socialist. This term brings terror to the hearts of many Americans. There’s a post circulating on Facebook right now of Vladimir Lenin’s quote, “The goal of socialism is communism.” That post has people in a panic. How can we elect a socialist, whose ultimate goal is communism, for leader of the free world?Communism comprises everything that the United States stands against.

But, before we start building underground bunkers and stocking up on jerked meat, water, and canned beans, I think we should take a minute to figure out if we need to be afraid of democratic socialism. The more I learn about what democratic socialism means, the more I learn how it is not the same as socialism.

Capitalism, our core economic principle, would remain under a Bernie Sanders presidency. So would the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government. What would change is that loopholes would be closed for corporations who have avoided paying taxes, and the very wealthy would be taxed more to pay for social programs like universal health care and free state-college tuition. These are goals, however, and probably not even ones that can be accomplished in the near future, if ever. (There’s still the House and Senate to contend with, as well as state governments.)

As I tried to familiarize myself with the concept of democratic socialism, I did some reading and learned that it already exists in our society to a large degree, and not only in government-assistance programs, like Medicare and Medicaid; you’ll see democratic socialism at work in our national highway system, our free public school system, our libraries, our post offices, our municipal trash pick-ups, municipal snow removal, state road resurfacing, bridge building, etc. These things are all possible because democratically elected officials voted for these projects and institutions, for the good of all.

So, I’m rethinking my political philosophy, which is mostly center, or a little left of center, but occasionally veers to the right. I will always support a free, capitalist society. I also support Senator Sanders’ contention that medical care and higher education should be available to all. These two things are not mutually exclusive if some major adjustments are made. After all, you can make a cake with many different recipes, but you’ll still wind up with a cake.

P.S. This is not an endorsement for Sen. Sanders. I’m still a mugwump (definition #2).

Lenin quote

  1. Great post Patsy! It’s so rare to see clear, unbiased & educational prose during an election season. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the education on that. I also like the term Mugwump, rather than Independent.

  3. I’m on the other side of the pond, in the UK, and Bernie Saunders sounds not unlike some of our politicians here. I won’t say which side because to me, most of them are much like the others. What I will say is that the left-wing in America is still more right-wing than our left-wing. If I were American, I’d vote Bernie (probably). I most certainly wouldn’t vote Trumpy.

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