There seems to be fervent opposition to socialism in the United States. Politicians often cast a negative light on democratic socialism.
America is a capitalist society based on free market and competition submerged in a sea of consumerism. Although it may be difficult to see past this collective bias, some qualities of democratic socialism could benefit the U.S.
Members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) proposed a resolution in April demanding the Democratic Party change its name to the “Democrat Socialist Party.” Although the resolution was abandoned a month later, it reflects the negative feelings toward socialism.
Jeff Kent, the RNC member from Washington state who proposed the resolution, said to Politico: “Just like Ronald Reagan identifying the U.S.S.R. as the evil empire was the beginning of the end to Soviet domination, we believe the American people will reject socialism when they hear the truth about how the Democrats are bankrupting our country and destroying our freedom and liberties.”
Comparing socialism to the Soviet Union for political purposes and suggesting it will destroy freedom and liberties prevents many from even attempting to understand it.
Fox News consistently criticizes European socialist movements while questioning their possible application in the U.S.
President Barack Obama recently responded to being labeled a socialist. He said to the New York Times, “We’ve actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles.”
According to prominent political scientist Lyman Sargent, socialism is based on governmental regulation of the economy, control of property through a democratically elected government, extensive public assistance and limits on accumulation of private property.
These principles are deemed unacceptable by many in the U.S.
It’s argued that bureaucracies can’t handle these responsibilities efficiently. However, bureaucrats are held responsible by officials elected by the general public, and can be removed through voting.
The U.S. economic system allows private individuals who are not responsible to citizens to hold massive power and influence. They cannot be voted out of office, yet they sway the nation’s economy.
One admirable aspect of democratic socialism that is often overlooked is its humanitarian and altruistic implications. The control of the economy through oversight by the general public can prevent abuses that have hurt the U.S.
Obama referred to the changes in health care industry’s practices as a “moral imperative.” Many consider health care a moral issue and believe the government should use its massive resources to take care of the uninsured.
The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. 37th in quality of health care, behind a number of socialist countries with much less economic power.
Although capitalism helps successfully produce material goods and services, its inequalities should force the U.S. to incorporate some socialist elements.
Many of those who strongly oppose socialism benefit the most from the inequality of capitalism. For most Americans, a little socialism will not threaten their livelihood, and it may actually benefit them.
Justin Rivera is a senior majoring in history.