I know there are still many people out there that don’t fully understand democratic socialism. In a nutshell, a democratic socialist is a democrat with progressive values.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in June on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert said this about democratic socialism, “I believe that in a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live.”

Democratic socialists are progressive especially when it comes to areas like wanting universal healthcare, affordable or free college tuition, or that workers deserve to earn a living wage.  For me personally these are common sense things that benefit society.   People that can’t get healthcare get sick don’t get better and never contribute any more taxes again and also have a lower quality of life.  It also has been demonstrated many times that universal health coverage would cost less than what we are currently paying and cover absolutely everyone.  People that don’t have access to education don’t become educated enough to get a higher paying job and contribute more taxes.  People that don’t earn benefits at work or a living wage are going to end up on public assistance in order to survive.  That pushes those cost that should be on the employer onto the public at large.  Democratic socialists do not allow people to be used or abused by corporations/employers, as they see that as “unfair”.

Democratic socialism has an emphasis put on identifying problems in society and proactively coming up with a solution that will benefit society as a whole.  For example take childcare in America.  I’m sure millions of parents have problems affording childcare here.  Places like Canada and Denmark have affordable childcare centers that parents can take their kids to and pay a small daily fee.  This encourages parents to work and contribute taxes.  It also gives the people running the childcare center jobs as well.  In the United States childcare costs so much that many people, especially low wage earners, don’t feel that it makes financial sense to return to work.  Democratic socialism realizes that needing childcare is a part of life for many people and it is better to address the issue and come up with an actual affordable solution for the parents.  This is also a win for employers because if something comes up like a grandparent that normally watches a child is sick then workers do have an affordable option of where they can take their child and still show up to work.

Bernie Sanders is probably the best known democratic socialist in the country. He is, overall, quite popular and many people liked the democratic socialistic ideas he shared in 2016.  First off, the most basic definition I can think of is it is an ideology to the left of the democratic party.  To the left meaning it is more progressive and proactive than traditional democrats have been in this country.  Imagine a line with democratic socialism on the left side, with Democrat to the right of that, independent most likely would be in the middle, Republican to the right of that, and the Alt-Right on the far right. I put independents in the middle of that spectrum.  Independents theoretically could go either way, but for some reason don’t want to affiliate with a specific party.

There are actually quite a few democratic socialists that identify as independents because for them the democratic party isn’t progressive enough for them.  Part of what created whole 2016 election debacle was many people that normally would have voted Democrat didn’t just blindly vote Democrat when the truly progressive candidate, Bernie Sanders, wasn’t given the Democratic Party nomination.    Someone like Bernie Sanders would have most likely beaten Trump by a decent margin in a head to head competition.  We as liberals/progressives can hopefully learn something from this and need to pay attention to this.  I’ve heard people voice that if a true popular progressive (without lots of baggage) isn’t nominated the next time around there’s no guarantee that the same thing won’t happen again in 2020 (where the left loses the election due to division).

People on the right or far right always complain that social programs like this cost money and we can’t afford them.  However they have no problem spending unfunded trillions on war or tax cuts for the wealthy.  They also the tend to do everything they can to deny veterans services after their service is done.  A democratic socialist would probably acknowledge we need to be spending way less on war.  Any money freed up could then easily go to help pay for veteran services, education and job training or a variety of other programs that would have a positive impact on society.  Or we also could even have funds to pay down the national debt.  Do not let the right lie to you that “we can’t afford social programs”.  When you look at a pie chart showing government spending well over half goes to the military alone.  Most of the other social safety net programs that we already have are tiny slivers of the pie.  We actually do have the resources to make The United States a better place to work and live again, but we also need to prioritize what we are spending on.

By and large the most resistance to democratic socialism in this country comes from the wealthy or very profitable corporations.  We have a messed up system right now where all kinds of excuses and loopholes are used to try and prevent those who are the wealthiest and largest earners from paying taxes.  Democratic socialism would make those that benefit the most from society also contribute the most to society as that is seen as only “fair”.

~Chris Madsen