Democratic Socialism

…(linked from this ‘Politics to Peanut Butter’ album page)…

I love libraries, the Postal Service, parks, highways, schools, fire stations, public servants and first responders, and all the other good things in our country that we’ve democratically created for our common good! Capitalism can be used for good things; it has its place. But when it’s let loose to run wild without regulations that safeguard against exploitation of people and destruction of our environment, the place capitalism has is in hell (hell on Earth, that is). It doesn’t take a scholar to see countless examples in history of the havoc and misery caused when money is valued over life. Wherever there is a financial incentive to harm people or our environment, we have a major moral problem. A healthy democratic society could include a mix of decent capitalism and incorruptible socialism; several decades ago, we had a much more sane mix than we do currently, albeit not sane enough. Our country could achieve a sane mix and repair our democracy, and a good step in that direction would be to elect the strongest supporter of liberty and justice and most democratic among the presidential candidates: Bernie Sanders.

It is possible to create a better future for our country than the grim, destructive path it’s been on. The vast majority of wealth and power has been increasingly amassed by a tiny percent of our population who pledge their allegiance only to their capital and not to their country. Overcome with their insane greed, they display contempt for working and poor people here and around the world. These sociopaths seek to destroy American institutions such as the Postal Service, libraries, VA hospitals, parks, public schools, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other democratic-socialist entities that save or enhance our lives. These sociopaths seek to abolish the minimum wage instead of raising it while giving the ultra-rich and corporations yet even more tax breaks, increasing the already obscene wealth and income inequality. These sociopaths seek to lift all government regulations on corporations, which were enacted to ensure the public breathes clean air and has clean water, even when those regulations already fell short of ensuring these basic human rights. These sociopaths subvert our democratic government to fight for freedom to exploit workers, the environment, and other countries, believing their evil freedom to do so trumps the people’s right to be free of such exploitation. Some of these powerful sociopaths are politicians, others use their wealth and power to influence, buy, or bribe those in public offices, and some own mainstream media outlets and private foundations or think-tanks to manipulate voters. The ideology of these sociopaths might include words such as “unregulated free-market capitalism” or “anti-government libertarians”. If these sociopaths continue taking our country down this path, we will see even more obscene wealth inequality, even more suffering of the poor and working-class, even more disappearance of the middle-class, even more pollution, even more war, and a less inhabitable Earth.

If any of this sounds unbelievable to you, then I suggest you do yourself a service: with an open-mind (as we all should aim to have), ‘follow the money’ on your choice of news media and ask yourself what motivates that source to bring you news that pertains to your quality of life; does that source have a self-serving bias? Compare and contrast wherever you get your news with multiple sources (that don’t all lead back to the same owners), and include some sources that are not funded by billionaires or large corporations but instead are independently funded by thousands or millions of different citizens. Think about it. If you only listen to one news source owned by a single billionaire, you are not only seeing things only through the views of that one rich man (most of these sociopaths are men) — you are also missing out on endless news that would be important to your life but is not deemed important by your chosen provider of information. Of all the news sources you choose to compare and contrast, never blindly absorb it without your critical thinking cap on. Always have some grains of salt by your reading / watching / listening place, no matter if you’re reading from a source proven to be deceptive (e.g. Fox News) or from a source that you deeply respect for its investigative journalism (e.g. ProPublica).

No matter how much you love your chosen media, know that like any good source, all things can degrade over time if good people don’t keep the standards of integrity high. This is true of democracy, media, unions, nonprofits, and of anything. If good people don’t continuously participate, what’s keeping greedy, power-hungry people from taking over? This is also why it doesn’t make sense to say, “government: bad; corporations: good” or vice-versa. THEY ARE WHAT WE THE PEOPLE MAKE OF THEM. Realize though, that by definition and structure, the public can weed corruption out of their democratic government whereas it’s much harder for the public to force a private entity to adopt a sense of morality — meaning that, if you enjoy freedom, then freeing our democratic government from outrageous corporate control is the easier path to gain it. So let’s get together and free our government from corruption and ensure it serves all of us instead of the richest handful! Let’s get together and make our media trustworthy! Let’s make it a crime for a politician, pundit, or news source to blatantly lie to the public, because if the public is relying on lies for their judgement of reality, then how can we vote and expect a true democracy! Let’s regulate our corporations to force them to value people and planet over profits, because face it — when a corporate bottom line is money, it is not likely to be good on its own. When there is a financial incentive to harm people or the environment (there are countless examples of this and the fatal effects of it, just do your research), why don’t we choose to create a democratic, humane system that is morally just and does not permit such cruelty?

I hope we’ll put aside Democrat vs Republican, and come together to create a loving, just world. Think critically of your chosen party; don’t blindly follow any party, but find out what policies are better for your life, for our country, and vote by issues not parties or candidates! There are so many people voting against their own interests because they aren’t doing their critical thinking, aren’t doing their research! I also think it is extremely important to follow the aforementioned media advice and observe for yourself that though both political parties are corrupt and too many politicians in both parties are bought by those ultra-rich sociopaths, the current Republican agenda leans more towards benefiting the already ultra rich at the expense of the already underpaid workers. The current Republican agenda leans more towards unnecessary wars and the destruction of our environment. The current Republican party is a larger threat to our voting rights and our democracy. The current Republican party is more deeply infected by racism and xenophobia. Now that the corrupt Democratic party has succeeded in cheating Sanders (our only presidential candidate with integrity) out of a fair primary election, their chosen candidate (Biden) is not someone known to protect rights of workers, promote world peace, and otherwise help our country to be a decent place to live. But we can only hope, and it does currently appear, that the public has a better chance of pushing a Biden administration towards a desperately needed progressive agenda than the current criminal administration. A better solution than Biden would be for the majority of Americans, who care about a progressive agenda, to make a mass move to an alternative political party. This Republican-Democrat / divide & conquer game we allow to be played by the ruling class has got to end sometime. The Republican Party has gone off the rocker with its protection of billionaires, racism, and attacks on the poor by aiming to cut social programs. The Democratic Party has repeatedly shown that its status quo leaders also serve corporations over working and poor people. If progressives can’t take over the Democratic Party, then we the people need to choose an alternative NOW.

To be ‘progressive’ or ‘democratic socialist’ is to value life over money. Just to name a few right now, some of these items on the progressive agenda are: waging peace rather than war; Green New Deal to provide good jobs while combatting climate change; non-profit healthcare for all so everyone can be cared for and not go bankrupt or be denied care due to their finances (hey Christians, I know you gotta love that because supposedly you care for people, right?); fair living wage; criminal justice; immigration justice; protecting our rights to vote in fair elections; fixing our democracy in part by getting money out of politics (e.g. overturn ‘Citizens United’, reform campaign-financing regulations); and so on. Basically, progressives want racial justice, environmental justice, social justice…we want liberty and justice for all. And not just in our country. We want to live our lives knowing that all people everywhere, and the environments they live in everywhere, are valued over wealth and power. We don’t want there to be a small ruling class; we prefer egalitarian democracy. We demand human rights for all people, everywhere, and when we one day all join in solidarity, we will begin to see what a loving world we can create together.

I plead with voters to examine more closely what you are voting for. The current Republican administration and its supporters seem to not mind if our democracy becomes wrecked as they defend the “rights” of a handful of sociopaths to amass billions and wield their power for selfish, greedy gain. Jane Mayer put this Louis Brandeis quote in her book ‘Dark Money’: “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” There’s a sweet man of my kin who votes Republican. He watches right-wing mainstream corporate media and listens to a right-wing pundit who deceives and incites violence. Based on his sources of news, this man votes against his own interests. He is a 75 year old, low-income public school bus driver who relies on Social Security as well as health care from the VA; he enjoys libraries and the Postal Service and likes to mountain bike in public national forests and parks; his adult son is in a group home for mentally ill and reliant on Social Security. The agenda of the current Republican party and that of some neo-liberal Democrats (neo-liberal can be thought of as Republicans or right-wingers who infiltrated the Democratic Party and pretend to be liberals) is not in favor of a single thing that sustains that man’s quality of life. Furthermore, he subscribes to the Christian faith while voting for Republicans who adopt severely inhumane agendas and whose polices towards the poor, immigrants, and minorities are more aligned with a notion of Satan than Christ. Are all Republican politicians sociopaths who want to abolish (or defund, or privatize/make money the bottomline, or otherwise spoil) our democratic-socialist entities, including public schools, Social Security, the VA, libraries, our Postal Service, national forests and parks, and assistance for the mentally ill? Do they all think it’s ok to profit off prisoners, off sick and dying people, off the destruction of our world? I hope not and don’t think every single one is. But the more you examine what’s happening, the more it becomes apparent that the majority of the Republican party has been and is currently ruled by these anti-American / anti-veteransRights / anti-workersRights / anti-women / anti-nonWhites / anti-environment / anti-democracy, etc., sellouts who continuously value capitalism over people and our environment.

The time is past due that good people become more involved in the political process before our democracy continues down this death spiral. Please stop voting if you don’t know what you’re voting for, or if you get all your information exclusively from a lying / misleading pundit, a news source ruled by corporate self-interests, or from other uninformed voters. Please start voting if you do your civic duty to become informed by trustworthy news sources, to the best of your ability. Know that though your vote is too often for “the lesser of two evils” rather than your ideal, you still need to take part. Know that more than your vote is needed…your awareness and engagement, your active participation to change the world for the better is needed too. Know that we can still love each other even when we disagree…we can learn to talk with compassion with each other rather than turn to hating anybody who is different from us. Most of all, examine the repercussions of your life choices and ask yourself if you can do better. Ask yourself, “What would Love do?” or for those of you subscribing to Christianity, “What would Jesus do?”.

Maybe you’d want to compare / contrast any of your chosen news sources with some that I currently recommend, just to name a few: Democracy Now, FAIR, Intercept, Truthout. “The Truth” sometimes seems a nebulous thing to seek out, but the more you try the more you can read between lines and at least get closer to it. You do the best you can, and above all keep an open mind, be a critical reader, and be your best self.

To read another’s description of what ‘Democratic Socialism’ is, check out:

— Lillie

© Spring 2020 Clay Babies