Why the “Socialist” debate doesn’t matter
And neither does the ‘social democrat’ vs ‘democratic socialist’ argument either. Get over it!
Please don’t be that person who distracts the whole political process away from getting things accomplished for the people and creates a“socialist quagmire” just to make some arbitrary ‘pet point’ of yours.
We use Labels to a Fault
The label “socialist” is so vague and unnecessary for anyone in the USA that it’s a waste of time to debate. The reason is simple — America is as much a “socialist” country as almost any other country today. Most of the big important programs in the US could easily be defined as “socialist”. So calling someone a “socialist” is basically saying, “that person likes Bridges, Post Offices, and Interstate Highways”. In America, you’re a socialist if you like receiving social security or mail. If you want to have a national Military then you’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that you’re advocating for a social program (and you’re a socialist). Labels are pretty silly when it comes to candidates. They only serve to divide us really.
You’re going to hear people exclaiming the history of failed socialist countries, but when pressed they can’t identify any purely socialist countries in history. So just don’t even get them started (ignore them).
The other “socialist” argument is about economics, not ideology or politics. Today the economy is deeply intertwined with politics at almost every level. Many believe that “socialism” or people in America that want more social programs also mean to eliminate private businesses and privately owned companies. That’s just nonsense. The term “socialist” has within its definition two important terms, “or” and “regulated”.
so·cial·ism “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”
In the USA we regulate everything by legislation and those laws are created by Congress, a legislative body that represents the people (democratic). Therefore, regulations are already in place in America making the USA by definition a “democratic socialist” country in most respects. Economically speaking, there are no candidates that are saying we need to eliminate private companies or that the means of production, distribution, or exchange be owned by the government. Despite this fact, many right-wingers will stand red-faced angry in front of you and scream that Bernie Sanders is going to make America a ‘communist’ country if he becomes the president. And nothing could be more ignorant than that false notion.
A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is Democratic Socialism
The Blindfold of Misguided Patriotic Pride
Any candidate that dares to suggest “socialist” ideas or even worse, puts forth a platform advocating for social reform, strikes fear into people who have been brainwashed into believing in a conservative notion of American Capitalism. These “conservatives” are filled with horror and become deeply offended on some level of personal patriotic fervor at any mention of “socialism”. To say it’s a hot-point topic is the ultimate in understatements. But does it really matter what they think? After all, if they could get past their own cognitive dissonance long enough to grasp the actual meaning of the term as used today, they would have far fewer problems with it. The truth is that efforts by conservatives to distract and stall discussions by making the term “socialist” a huge deal is a waste of our time. It’s disingenuous at best. They just need to get over their fears of the great “socialist” boogie man and move on to more serious issues. These wanna-be patriots would rather fall on their swords before admitting they’re wrong of course, so don’t bother debating them. When you see anyone questioning or suggesting Bernie or some other politician is a “socialist” just ignore them. It’s not worth it. Don’t feed the animals.
Bigger issues demand our attention
The tired old debates over political labels and definitions are distracting us all from the important issues we need to address. We’re at a very critical turning point for our environment, our economic system, our political process, corporate lobbying, and numerous domestic issues such as housing, food security, clean water, education, healthcare, and the cost of living. Talking about whether a candidate is a socialist or a social democrat is not important because those labels don’t mean anything significant in American politics. Being a socialist doesn’t mean you’re going to usher in communism and it doesn’t mean you are advocating the end of private businesses either. A much more productive and intelligent conversation is found in the real issues that are plaguing the country. And right now it is how candidates plan on bringing about solutions we can all live with that really matters.
Don’t be the guy who is drawing a line in the sand over the use of the label, “socialist”. It’s really a waste of everybody’s time and it makes you look ignorant. Ask yourself, “what are the really important national issues we should be talking about?” Or, “Which candidate has the best solutions or has the agenda that’s best for America’s future?”
That’s what really matters.
This should settle things completely regarding Bernie Sanders (2020 and beyond).
Bernie Sanders is once again being labeled a “socialist” by all manner of right-wing neanderthals and centrist democratic neocons who don’t care about accuracy or the English language. They do care about dumbing down voters, which is why they continue to batter Bernie with the inaccurate context of the term, “socialist”.
Samuel Goldman, assistant professor of political science at George Washington University, states that Sanders’ platform is not socialist and is better described as “welfarism” reminiscent of the 1950s that aims to regulate rather than to replace capitalism. Goldman notes that Sanders does not advocate public ownership of the means of production nor does he seek to abolish the profit system, both of which Goldman considers to be defining characteristics of socialism¹
Worth Repeating over and over again…
Bernie Sanders does NOT advocate public ownership of the means of production nor does he seek to abolish the profit system, both of which are defining characteristics of socialism. Period. Full Stop. End of Story!
¹Samuel Goldman (15 August 2015). “Democrats Are Not Socialists, and Neither Is Bernie Sanders”. The American Conservative. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
Also, see my article on Patriotism in America: