Recently there was an article in Common Sense Press, a website established in 2018 “to give real views of the day without pressure from outside forces,” entitled “America’s Growing Love affair with Socialism.” The anonymous author expressed a view nullifying the Democratic Socialist movement happening right now in the liberal community. They note specific, extreme examples of socialism to invalidate the very altruistic hopes of elected Democratic Socialists and their constituents. This, among other fallacies, distracts from the progressive intention to shape the future of the United States.
The Oxford Dictionary defines socialism as “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.” We’ve seen examples of consequences the “Growing Love Affair” author writes about: Stalin-era land seizures in Russia and the inadequate healthcare conditions common in Cuba. The author even goes so far as to provide a picture — next to the section about Cuba — of an elderly man on a bed in an obviously unsanitary room, possibly with fecal matter on the floor. But the author fails to give any indication of when or where the photograph was taken.
Quite lazy journalism, if you ask me.
These are the kinds of consequences the author warns will happen by leaning toward socialism in America. This black-and-white reasoning does not account for the reality, policy and progress made in this country, which would prevent such domestic dilemmas. The law of eminent domain from the “takings clauses” of the Fifth Amendment stops these kinds of land and personal property seizures.
Also, the Department of Health and Human Services has branches all over the U.S. to regulate sanitation in medical facilities.
The anonymous author also writes, “…my favorite is the term of endearment bandied about, that of Democratic Socialist. I find the term quite ironic, not to mention it being an oxymoron.” Assuming we are using the true denotation of the word socialist, then yes, they would be correct in calling it an oxymoron. But there is such a thing in literary arts called a “connotation.”
The author then adds, “In a true instance of socialism, the people have no voice.” I don’t question the truth of that statement, but the use of its meaning constitutes a baseless argument. The author assumes this is the goal of like-minded progressives brandishing the Democratic Socialist platform — or at least a potential consequence. Although it is not explicitly stated, it is indirectly implied.
A simple web search of the phrase “democratic socialism” shows it is not pure socialism. That’s why the word “democratic” is in front of “socialism.” The beauty of language is that new words can be created in an instant. For instance, “bootylicious,” once a slang term, is now officially in the Oxford Dictionary.
To claim democratic socialism as a term is invalid because the two words on their own have different meanings is absurd and shows ignorance of the very elementary concept of the compound word. The author’s argument is about as strong as saying there can be no such thing as ice cream because ice is solid and everyone knows cream is liquid.
The official website of the Democratic Socialists of America makes the new connotation of socialism and the true meaning of democratic socialism clear: “Democratic socialists believe 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.”
Any notion suggesting a slight lean toward more socialist values is a detriment to American society does not take into account the improvements made by socialist-type policies of the past. For example, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal helped save our ancestors from the Great Depression. During this time, Congress raised the top marginal tax rate from 25 percent to 63 percent, not far off from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 70 percent suggestion.
Make no mistake, a socialist policy is a policy in which the distribution of goods and services is the shared responsibility of a group of people. When there is resource inequality in that group, those who have more must share what is appropriate, which means sharing more than those with less.
This is exactly what FDR’s New Deal was meant to do, and it did restore prosperity to Americans.
What we Democratic Socialists are facing now, with yet another instance of vast income inequality, is not just restoring prosperity, but also restoring equal opportunity to marginalized persons. We are faced with the task of making legislation that keeps our citizens safe from gun violence, racial discrimination and bigotry and that allows families to provide for their loved ones without the threat of hunger, homelessness or untreated illness.
Democratic socialism is not a trend. It is an ideal which has become more prevalent with progressives because, through actual work and comprehensive lawmaking, one would see how these actions could enrich our country, and not just financially. Without fallacious over-generalizations, through doing research and looking into the inner workings of such possible advancements, one might think twice before slandering a word and the people who champion its meaning.
Joey Moreno is currently enrolled in El Centro College as a PR/Literary Arts double major. He has worked in the Dallas high-end restaurant industry for more than three years and is a new member of the Stonewall Democrats.