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Democratic Socialism: the belief that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.
…or so say the Democratic Socialists of America. I open with this definition because there seems to be some confusion. The rise of Bernie Sanders has brought light to the ideology, and even more myths about what that means. After years of erroneous and misleading GOP slander, Americans have been led to believe that
socialism = communism = taking my stuff.
Case and point, this asinine meme:
My goal by the end of this article is to make it abundantly clear that this image makes ZERO sense.
Let me begin by explaining the above definition of Democratic Socialism. In layman’s terms, it is the belief that a democratically elected government can and should be the provider of public services, financed by taxation for the benefit of tax paying citizens.
The US used to fervently support it. After World War II, when the Cold War was beginning, European states took massive amounts of aid from the United States. Used as a way to gain influence and reduce the attract of communism, we only gave money to democratic capitalist nations who utilize socialist policies. Granted, the Nordic countries had social welfare for years, but with American aid these countries were able to recover and become some of the richest nations in the world.
So, no surprise that this system is utilized and boasted by, in some way or another, nearly every single rich nation that the US considers its peer or ally. Like most misconceptions in America, because we are so isolated from the world and dominate popular culture, we just come to believe that the American norms are the world standard. That is just not true.
Although most Fordham students are fortunate enough to come from families who will never have to worry about paying for their education or going to the hospital, the vast majority of Americans (this writer included) are not so lucky. The fact that a citizen of the richest country in the history of the world thinks that someone is lucky to not worry about access to health care is disturbing.
And no, before you even say it, a public health care system does not mean you have to wait in line for weeks if you need to go to the doctor. Take your head out of GOP’s ass and look to literally ANY country with this system and realize that the private health care system would still exist. You can continue going to private hospitals that charge more for (typically) higher quality of care or go to the free public hospitals financed by your taxes. Let’s also remember that in our current system you cannot waltz into any medical facility and immediately receive treatment (obviously with the exception of emergency rooms). You already have to set up dentist appointments and other procedures months in advance so let’s stop pretending this an argument.
But meh I shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s college education. Ahem, news flash, you already are paying for everyone’s high school, middle school, and elementary education.
Most of you probably went to public school before college. You cannot deny that a college education is essential to get a decent paying full time job, and that lack of higher education is dangerous (as seen in the support of Trump by the less educated masses). We make teenagers shell out $40,000 at minimum for an in state degree, $10,000 more a year than they’ll be expected to make. It shouldn’t be so outlandish to think that instead of buying more B52s we could put it toward educating our citizens.
I also don’t have time to even begin speaking about the myriad of other benefits Democratic Social programs provide, such as: paved roads, paid maternity and paternity leave, shorter work weeks, welfare, old age pensions, etc. etc.
The fundamental misconception about these programs, as illustrated by the aforementioned meme, is that money is going to be taken from you. I’m sorry to break it to you, but that’s called taxation, the majority of which in this country is spent on defense spending and foreign aid – AKA propping up American sympathetic regimes around the world. The core of this ideology is that if you are going to pay taxes, that money should be given back to you in the form of a government organized service (i.e. all the wonderful things I’ve listed).
Now, I can’t nor want to make this a Bernie Sanders endorsement. Although he does believe in Democratic Socialism, he also stands for a whole slew of other things that I personally disagree with (such as a very incessant need to blame the rich and the private sector for every problem in America).
My point is to make abundantly clear that Democratic Socialism is not communism, it is not stealing, and is not outrageous.
It is demanding that the chunk of your paycheck the government takes should come back to you in some way, shape or form. It is the idea that you should not have to be paying $500 a month for 10+ years after graduation to pay for a state sponsored bachelor’s degree. It is the hope that even the poorest among us can receive medical treatment without going bankrupt. In America, it’s telling the industries that profit from our ignorance that you can no longer take advantage of us.
I realize this is a very aggressive testimony for the Democratic Socialist cause, but please do not confuse it for trying to change your political ideologies. I firmly believe that we can disagree on a solution and respect each other knowing that the other’s arguments are based on fact. However, I will not sit idly by while people try to misinform their peers about a globally accepted, well-functioning system that we don’t have yet. I understand most people simply don’t know enough, and that is why it is so important that we talk about these issues. It is perfectly fine if you don’t like Bernie, or Democratic Socialism, or liberalism, or progressivism, or any other idea, but it has to be with an accurate understanding of what you’re disagreeing with. This is a pivotal time for the future of our country and we cannot dilute intellectual conversation in deciding the path we will take if we don’t know what we are talking about. Let’s work together to help educate each other and combat demagoguery with logic.