Even before the Cold War and the so-called “McCarthy Period” (named after Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy), individuals and groups on the political and theocratic Right have flung the term “Socialist” from their metaphoric sling shots into the faces of their political opponents to discredit their characters and dismiss their political ideas and policies, and to sway the electorate toward a conservative agenda. This continues to this very day as evidenced by the Tea Party’s representations of President Obama and of various progressive politicians.
As destructive and as freedom-killing as the Right would have us believe,Socialisminvolves “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole,” where each of us has a stake and advances in the success of our collective economy.
No country in the world today stands as a fully Socialist state, but rather, some of the most successful economies combine elements of Capitalism with Socialism to create greater degrees of equity and lesser disparities between the rich, the poor, and those on the continuum in between.
I, therefore, would say to those who thrust the term “Socialist” as an epithet, if a Socialist is one who advocates for a government sponsored single-payer quality universal health care system, which includes medical procedures and safe and reasonably-priced prescription and over-the-counter drug therapies, including contraception devises of one’s choice, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who demands that our country protects and enhances our Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid safety nets, and school lunch and other assistance programs, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who advocates for the further nationalization of our parks, forests, mountains, rivers, streams, shores, and off-shore waters, rather than allocating increased corporate mining, drilling, and timber rights, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who advocates for free and quality education, not only through grade 12, but throughout higher education and after for everyone who desires and works to achieve their fullest potential, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who advocates for a government-sponsored program that guarantees our seniors a retirement system that ensures a high quality of life free from economic burdens, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who advocates for the rights of workers to organize and to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions, and guarantees equal pay for equal work, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who battles to eliminate workplace and larger societal inequalities based on race, nationality, linguistic background, citizenship status, age, marriage status, sex, sexual identity, gender identity and expression, disability, socioeconomic standing, religion, and other social identities, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who works to ensure that everyone is guaranteed a comfortable and secure place to live, one who guards against a banking system that forecloses people’s homes through scurrilous business practices, and one who tightens regulations on Wall Street and banks to limit the risks of future meltdowns, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who supports effective governmental regulations on food producers to safeguard our food supply and protect against the maltreatment of animals, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who places reasonable regulations on corporations, companies, and individuals to defend our environment, supports development and distribution of clean and renewable energy sources, and spends the fund necessary to enhance and maintain the nation’s infrastructure, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who supports reasonable and fair restrictions on the political process to prevent mammoth contributions by individuals and corporations to buy and own politicians to influence public policy, while locking out individuals and groups unable to amass large political funds, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who challenges a military industrial complex that marches to the beat of industry, and a prison industrial complex that perpetuates the racial and socioeconomic class inequities pervasive throughout the society, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who guarantees quality and timely health care and other programs for our military veterans, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who contests and advocates for effective restrictions on the so-called “free market” economic system that enables the creation and enhancement of mega monopolies, outsourcing of jobs, manufacture of defective products, and exploitation of destructive fossil fuels, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who places common sense regulations on the ownership of all fire arms to protect the population from assault, injury, and death, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who supports an end and reverse of all current and past attempts at voter suppression of minoritized groups, young people, elders, working class voters, and guarantees equal access to the voting booths, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who promotes and enacts compassionate and fair immigration, naturalization, and refugee shelters laws, and works with other nations to protect its residents from gang violence and from stifling poverty, which when unabated makes it necessary for people to flee in order to survive, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who considers corporations AS corporations rather than “as people my friend,” and compels these businesses to follow the laws of incorporated ventures and not as religious institutions, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who constructs and maintains a “strict wall of separation” between religion and government, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who demands a true progressive tax structure where everyone pays their fair share, one that inhibits massive inequities in the overwhelming accumulation of wealth by the top one-ten percent of the nation as is currently the case in the United States, then I am a VERY proud Socialist! And the list goes on….
Last year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conducted its “Better Life Index” to determine the “happiest countries in the world,” according to its residents. Based on an 11-measure survey assessing quality of life, including housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, health, work-life balance, and life satisfaction, all the Scandinavian countries, plus The Netherlands and Austria, and only one North American country, plus Australia and Israel reached the top 10 countries.
Included in descending order are number one, Denmark, followed by Canada (which provides a single-payer health care system unlike its North American neighbor, the United States), Norway, Australia, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Israel, and Austria.I am saddened, but definitely not surprised, that the United States did not make the cut. Therefore, we might do well to look to these countries for some of their “Socialist” policies that sustain high levels of quality of life issues for their residents.
So, I will always challenge those who wish to continue the economic and social status quo when using the term “Socialist” as a means of intimidation flung as an epithet, but, rather, I welcome and embrace the term as a declaration of empowerment, pride, and hope for a better social structure in a bettertomorrow.