Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The S Word

I almost have to chuckle when conservatives use the word socialism as if it's a curse. They accuse Democrats in general and President Obama in particular of being socialists. Either they have no idea what socialism is or else they really do know but assume their audience is ignorant.

Here are a few questions for those conservatives: You are opposed to socialism? Hmmm... do you want to get rid of Medicare? It's a government run, socialist program that most Americans, including many who consider themselves conservatives, support. How about public libraries? Public safety, as in police and fire protection, that are government run? Public schools? Social security? All those things are examples of socialism, good common sense socialism. All are socialism which most Americans would not want to do away with.

Every successful western democracy has a blend of capitalism and socialism for its economic system, including the United States. The only differences are how much of each. Frankly, we need a bit more socialism in this country. I originally wrote much of this as a response to a conservative in a political discussion online. He accused me of advocating "moving to a failed system of socialism". Socialism has nothing to do with failed systems in eastern Europe or elsewhere. It certainly has nothing to do with Communism or Marxism or the old Soviet Union.

I've often said most Americans don't know what socialism is but the more I think about it the more I realize I've probably been wrong to say that. After all, the good people of Vermont elected Bernie Sanders, an avowed small s socialist, to the U.S. Senate. Oh, and yes, I consider myself a socialist, in a decidedly small d democratic sort of way, much like Senator Sanders.