The 12 best reasons to be a democratic socialist
In a highly anticipated speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders passionately detailed what being a democratic socialist means to him and would mean for Americans if elected president. http://goo.gl/E6B5Y31. Major political and economic reforms.
“Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system which is corrupt, that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy. Democratic socialism, to my mind, speaks to a system, which for example during the 1990s—and I want you to hear this—allowed Wall Street to spend $5 billion, over a 10-year period, in lobbying and campaign contributions in order to get deregulated. They wanted the government off of their backs. They wanted to do whatever they wanted to do….
“Then, 10 years later, after the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior led to their collapse, what our system enabled them to get bailed out by the United States government, which through Congress and the Fed, provided trillions of dollars in aid to Wall Street. In other words, Wall Street used their wealth and power to get Congress to do their bidding for deregulation, and then when Wall Street collapsed, they used their wealth and power to get bailed out. Quite a system!
“And then, to add insult to injury, we were told that not only were the banks too big to fail, we were told that the bankers were too big to jail. And this is the system. Young people who get caught possessing marijuana, they get police records—and many many hundreds of thousands have police records that have impacted their lives in serious ways. On the other hand, Wall Street CEOs who help destroy the economy, they don’t get police records, they get raises in their salaries. And this is what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant when he talked about socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.”2. An end to corporate welfare.
“It is time that we had democratic socialism for working families, not just for Wall Street billionaires. It means that we should not be providing welfare for corporations. It means that we should not be providing huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country or trade policies, which boost corporate profits while they result in workers losing their jobs. It means that we create a government which works for all of the American people, not just powerful special interests. It means that economic rights must be an essential part of what America stands for.”3. A national public healthcare system.
“It means that health care should be a right of all people, not a privilege… I know that there are some people out there who think this is just an incredibly radical idea—imagine, in the United States of America, all of us, having health care as a right. But I hope all of you know this is not a radical idea. It is a conservative idea. It is an idea and a practice that exists in every other major country on earth.
“Not just in Scandanavia—in Denmark, in Sweden, in Finland or Norway. It exists in Canada—I live 50 miles away from Canada; not a radical idea. It exists in France, Germany, Taiwan. All over the world, countries have made the determination that all of their people are entitled to health care, and I believe the time is long overdue for the United States to join the rest of the world… And by the way, what a Medicare-for-all system will bring about is ending the absurdity of the American people paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”4. Tuition-free public colleges and universities.
“Now, when I talk about democratic socialism, what that means to me, is that in the year 2015, a college degree today is equivalent to what a high school degree was 50 years ago. And what that means is that public education must today allow every person in this country, who has the ability, the qualifications and the desire, the right to go to a public college or university tuition-free. Is this a radical socialistic idea? I don’t think so. It exists today in many countries all over the world. You know what, it used to exist in the United States of America. Great universities, like the University of California, the City University of New York, were virtually tuition-free.”5. A government that creates jobs, not prisoners.
“Democratic socialism means that our government does everything it can to create a full employment economy. It makes far more sense to me to put millions of people back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, than to have a real unemployment rate of almost 10 percent. It is far smarter to invest in jobs and educational opportunities for young people who are unemployed, than to lock them up and invest in jails and incarceration.”6. A living minimum wage and real family leave.
“Democratic socialism means that if someone works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty; that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage—$15 bucks an hour over the next several years. It means that we join the rest of the world and pass the very strong Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation now sitting in Congress.
“I want you to think about this, and I want you to really see what goes on in our country today. It’s not only that every other major country—I’m not talking about Europe or Scandanavia—virtually every country in the world, poor countries, small countries, reach the conclusion that when a woman has a baby she should not be forced to be separated from that newborn baby after a week or two and have to go back to work. Making sure that moms and dads can stay home and get to love their babies is a family value that we should support. And that is why I want, and will fight, to end the absurdity of the United States being one of the only countries on Earth that does not guarantee at least three months of paid family and medical leave.”7. Stopping climate change-causing industries.
“Democratic socialism to me means that we have government policy, strong government policy, which does not allow the greed and profiteering of the fossil fuel industry to destroy our environment and our planet. And it means to me that we have a moral responsibility to combat climate change and leave this planet healthy and inhabitable for our kids and grandchildren.”8. The wealthy must pay a fair share of taxes.
“Democratic socialism means that in a democratic, civilized society the wealthiest people and the largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes. Yes, innovation, entrepreneurship and business success should be rewarded. But greed for the sake of greed is not something that public policy should support.
“It is not acceptable to me that in the period of time, the last two years, 15 of the wealthiest people in this country—15 people—saw their wealth increase, in this rigged economy, by $170 billion. Got it? Two years. Fifteen people, $170 billion increase in their wealth. That is more wealth than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans. Let us not forget what Pope Francis has so elegantly stated and I quote: ‘We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.’ End of quote.
“In other words, we’ve got to do better than that. It’s not a political issue. It’s not an economic issue. It’s a cultural issue. We have got to stop worshipping people who make billions and billions and billions of dollars, while we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country.”9. America’s political system must be a democracy.
“Democratic socialism, to me, does not just mean that we must create a nation of economic and social justice and environmental sanity. Of course, it does mean that. But it also means that we must create a vibrant democracy based on the principle of one person, one vote. It is extremely sad—and I hope all of you will pay a lot of attention to this issue—it is extremely sad that the United States, one of the oldest, most stable democracies in the world, has one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major country, and that millions of young people and working-class people have given up on the political process entirely.
“In the last midterm election, just a year ago, 63 percent of the American people didn’t vote, 80 percent of young people did not vote. Clearly, despite the efforts of many Republican governors, who want to suppress the vote, to make it harder for people of color and old people to participate in the political system, our job together is to make it easier for people to vote, not harder to vote. It is not a radical idea—and I will fight for this as hard as I can as president—to say that everyone in this country who is 18 years of age or older is registered to vote: end of discussion.”10. Democratic socialism is not a government takeover.
“The next time that you hear me attacked as a socialist—like tomorrow—remember this: I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street, or own the means of production. But I do believe that the middle class and the working families, who produce the wealth of this country, deserve a decent standard of living, and that their incomes should go up, not down.
“I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad. I believe that most Americans can pay lower taxes—if hedge fund managers who make billions manipulating the marketplace finally start paying the taxes that they should.”11. Equal treatment by government, not racism.
“I don’t believe in special treatment for the top 1 percent, but I do believe in equal treatment for African Americans who are right to proclaim the moral principle that black lives matter. I despise appeals to nativism and prejudice, a lot of which we have been hearing in recent months. And I do proudly believe in immigration reform that gives Hispanics and others a pathway to citizenship and a better life.
“And while I am on that subject, let me say a real word of concern to what I have been hearing from some of the Republican candidates for president in recent months. People can have honest disagreements about immigration or about anything else. That’s called democracy. But people should not be using the political process to inject racism into the debate. And if Donald Trump and others refer to Latinos, people from Mexico, as criminals and rapists, if they want to open that door, our job is to shut that door and shut it tight.”12. Do not become cynical; work for change.
“Do not, do not, do not become cynical… I am running for president in order for all of us to be able to live in a nation of hope and opportunity, not for some, but for my seven grandchildren, and for all of you.
“Nobody understood better than Franklin Delano Roosevelt the connection between American strength at home and our ability to defend America around the world. And that is why he proposed a second Bill of Rights in 1944, and said in that very same State of the Union, and I quote again, ‘America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace—lasting peace—in the world.'”
(Please go to Salon.com to read the entire article: http://goo.gl/E6B5Y3
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