What is a Democratic Socialist?

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Chimney FireI am not a political scientist. I grew up with a father who was a capitalist. Not a wealthy capitalist but someone who built a furniture business from the ground up. When my brother, sister and I were young, our mother stayed home to raise us but in the evenings, my father would bring home the receipts from his furniture business and she would do the bookkeeping. They also collected antiques, especially clocks and they ran that like a business too. I saw that private enterprise (capitalism) was a good thing. My parents paid their fair share of taxes and abided by the rules and had a lot of fun running their own show.

Enter Bernie Sanders, a man who calls himself a “democratic socialist.” As I said, I am not a political scientist but I do have a dictionary and I love to look these things up. One thing I found in my favorite dictionary, an old Webster’s from the 1930’s, is that a socialist distrusts the capitalist’s control of industry. Okay… but then if capitalists don’t control industry, who does? The government? That doesn’t sound so great to me. My experience with the government is mediocracy and long lines. My view of capitalism is simplistic but we lived well and we had a lot of freedom. Though we were not rich.

New Hot Snow CoverThe word democracy, is French demos (the people) Kratein (to rule), kratos (authority). The United States of America is a democracy. “Of the people, by the people, for the people.” We the people are supposed to have the supreme power and the government is exercised through representation. We vote for people to represent us. There is a lot of dissatisfaction in our representatives. I include myself in that dissatisfaction. Webster’s says that a democracy believes in social equality without snobbery. That word throws me, it isn’t your normal political jargon but I will accept it as an attempt to explain democratic values. In other words, social equality excludes no one. We’re all in this together, share and share alike?

When we get into the definition of a socialist we get into economic theory. Words and phrases like collective, governmental ownership and democratic management are used in reference to the production and distribution of goods. Unfortunately, the idea of government distributing our items of sustenance is not appealing. On the other hand, when capitalists get greedy and have a stronghold on the people’s needs, getting something mediocre from the government is still better than not being able to afford it and not getting it at all. Take one look at what the future has in store for our basic water needs. Greedy capitalists are already working to control the distribution.

I’m looking for a political system that affords me the luxury of a wide assortment of goods to choose from. I’m willing to pay more money if I want the best. And I like a wide assortment of affordable goods and services too. But if I fall upon hard times, I like knowing that there is a governmental system in place, a social service that will interview me, access my needs and help me to get back on my feet again. Oh! That sounds like America. I can’t say that I like it exactly as it is, but I like it. I have had a good life as an American.

Suellen Ocean is the author of The Steinberg Conspiracy Series. Available here:

Book One, Chimney Fire: http://www.amazon.com/Chimney-Fire-Steinberg-Conspiracy-Book-ebook/dp/B00XDCPLEW

Book Two, Hot Snow: http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Snow-Steinberg-Conspiracy-Book-ebook/dp/B014XHUT1K

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