I thought I would look up this idea called Democratic Socialism instead of reacting to all sorts of red flags. Some people think that Bernie Sanders needs to drop the title if he expects to get elected. I am one of those. The word “socialism” is too scary. But after doing some research, I realize that it is scary to older people my age more so than young people. We tend to equate socialism with communism, but as I read, I realize the two are not at all the same.
When I think of socialism, I think of Marx and Lenin and the Soviet Union. But these were authoritarian regimes, basically forcing a way of life upon their populace. Democratic socialism is “of the people”. The people have to agree to it. They may be giving up some individual rights, but they agree that it is better for their country as a whole.
Already in the United States, we have a system that is quite socialistic, public schools, which are financed by taxes, money that comes out of people’s paychecks via taxes on property or purchased goods. Most people agree to this arrangement even if they don’t have children or their own children benefit from private education. I like it because I believe all American children are ours collectively and because an educated populace makes for a healthier country.
While schools are payed for at a number of levels (national, state and local), most decisions about schools are in the hands of local school boards elected by local citizens. No matter what you think about education in public schools, there is one thing that I can support: in this country, all American children can attend.
Currently the idea of universal health care is being discussed (hotly). I try to be open to people’s opinions on this one, but I can’t stop thinking about those who don’t have adequate health care. My husband and I are privileged. We have Medicare plus affordable supplemental insurance. These two so far have covered our needs. Neither my husband nor I have catastrophic medical situations.
But there are people who can’t afford health insurance and will choose not to purchase medication or have life-saving surgery because they simply can’t afford it. Medical costs are the most common cause for bankruptcy. People who are in crisis but are not insured often us emergency rooms because it is the only way to get the help they need. This costs all of us because it impacts the cost of hospital care in general. But worse than all of the above, people and children suffer and die without health care.
Socialized medicine? I don’t think Medicare is socialized medicine. We get to choose our own doctors and care. The kind of care we get has a lot to do with the offerings of our local clinics and hospitals. There is some good competition around here for outdoing one another. Every time we go to a doctor, get surveys coming out of the kazoo asking about what we think about the service. I would vote any day for my fellow Americans across the country to be able to have the care we have. It should be a right of citizenship.
I don’t know about the rest of the agenda for socialist democrats. I plan to learn more, however. The one thing that seems to be clear, however, is that if it is “by the people”, that means the people have to believe in it and want it. The idea that it can be forced upon us seems contradictory to the whole idea. “Forced upon” implies a dictatorship. None of us wants that.