Bernie Sanders and the ‘S’ Word

They say ‘socialism’ is a dirty word — but Bernie Sanders is here to help clean it up.

With Bernie Sanders running for the Democratic nomination for president, we finally have a real people’s voice in a major party race. It’s a welcome and much-needed contrast to the “Dynastic Duo” – yet another Clinton vs Bush battle.

Oh, but Bernie is that most dreaded of all things, say some – a *gasp* – “socialist”! Well, “Democratic Socialist,” as Mr. Sanders likes to chasten.

But, my, my – isn’t a socialist as bad as a communist, which is as bad as a fascist, which is as bad as Nazi?

Well, no, they’re all very different things. Sanders likes to point out that the system he’s aiming for is something similar to what they have in Scandinavian countries: nationalized health care, guaranteed education, a minimum income, care for the elderly, national parks, public roads, etc.

We already have some “socialist” elements in our system of government: Social Security, national parks and other public spaces, public roads, fire and police departments, and so on.

What people like Bernie Sanders advocate is simply increasing the amount of our economy that is run for the public good by the government. In my view, anything that is truly a basic need should be socialized. Otherwise, the profit motive will corrupt it. Health care is the perfect example.

Do you think the “redistribution of wealth” is a bad idea? Then, maybe we shouldn’t have let it happen over the last 30 years! It’s been redistributed to the top 1% over that time. So, it’s time to RE-redistribute it, back to the working class, who are the ones responsible for creating that wealth in the first place, with their hard work!

In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers stated that we have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Indeed, a major reason for instituting a democratic system of government is so that it will serve “we, the people.”

As the people, we continue to define and refine what that means. The Declaration set some lofty aspirations for the new nation. So why not strive to create a society where no one has to suffer, where everyone can pursue their dreams without fear of poverty, sickness and persecution?

If you’re afraid of the word “socialism,” don’t worry, even a President Bernie Sanders would not be able to transform our system by himself. But I think someone like him could help steer us away from the most destructive effects of capitalism and toward a more humane, just society. And what would be so bad about that?


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James Israel
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