Socialism, Capitalism, and Democracy

Dear Democrat,
I’ve written about this before, but in light of recent events it’s worth writing about again.
On Tuesday morning Bernie announced that he was, once again, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President. It was certainly not unexpected and didn’t shock anyone. Equally unsurprising was Donald Trump’s and the White House’s reaction. Once again this group of throwbacks to the late 19th century have put their ignorance . . . as well as their arrogance . . . on full display for the world to see, screaming that Bernie is a (gasp) socialist, then following it up with claims that all of the Democratic candidates are (gasp) socialists, and therefore all Democrats are (gasp) socialists. And, of course, Trump’s uninformed and misinformed base eats it all up. Their mantra has become “Socialism Bad! Democracy Good” as if the two are somehow mutually exclusive.

So, how do we educate these people? Perhaps we can make some headway when talking to Trump’s acolytes by turning the tables on them a little. When someone makes a disparaging comment about socialism, we can ask them why they don’t support our military. Why don’t they support our police? Do they really think that the firefighters on call at the local fires station are Marxist devils? Do they hate literacy so much that they want to get rid of schools and libraries? Perhaps they want our highway system privatized so that we have to pay a toll every time a road crosses a piece of private land.
Of course, anyone who’s even come close to any books on political and economic systems knows that democracy, including our special flavor of a democratically elected representative government, is a political system and that socialism is an economic system. The two are most certainly not mutually exclusive! In fact, almost every country in the world, including our own, uses an economic system that blends varying amounts of socialism and capitalism. In our case, all of the services to the public, paid for by the public, are socialistic entities. Those are areas where even Trump’s most ardent supporters will have to agree that socialism works better than capitalism.
Naturally, there are also areas where capitalism works better. Areas where competition serves to keep prices down while encouraging innovation. I would not want the government to socialize our auto industry. We’d end up with virtually no choice in what sort of car we could buy. But things that we can all benefit from, equally and equitably, are best served by a socialistic approach. We can argue about whether certain facets of our economy should be socialized, and we will argue. A major point of debate in 2020 will be how much, if any, of our healthcare system should be socialized. Some Democrats will argue for “Medicare for All”. Personally, I’ll argue that we should abandon the entire corrupt and gouging “health insurance” industry, including Medicare, and have socialized medical care for all. Republicans will advocate for their preferred system of only the rich being able to afford medical care. The arguments will happen and that’s a good thing, because it begins an exchange of ideas. But whatever happens we must not permit the Republicans to completely demonize the economic system that allows us, as a society (note the similarity of words), to flourish.
We MUST keep working together!
Bill Peifer
Chair, Democratic Party of Bernalillo County
505-463-7045 (Text Please)