Monday, September 8, 2014

Why I am a Socialist

I have decided after a long period of evaluation, that I am a Carter/McGovern Democrat.  But the Democratic party has left souls like mine behind, leaving us to find our way to greener pastures, like the one in which I now graze - the Democratic Socialists of America. 

President Carter came to office during a very difficult time.  Sure, they're all difficult.  Nobody is saying that Roosevelt had it easier, although he had the war as an economic engine.  Carter didn't have to drop an atomic bomb or declare any wars.  However, Carter didn't really have an economic engine, and he knew it.  We had consumerism and a very high expectation of delivering lots of goods and services at very low prices - prices over which we had lost control.

His malaise speech - the very speech that probably ended his chances at a second term - will go down in history of one of the most important speeches ever ridiculed and ignored by so many. Nobody wants to be told to turn down the thermostat and tighten our belts a bit.  A plan based on austerity is for other people, not Americans.

A few years before that, McGovern tried to get us to believe in the power of the American spirit.  McGovern believed that we could take care of everyone first and still have enough energy, innovation and productivity to earn and hold the world's admiration - all boats would rise in America's rising tide.  He too was ridiculed - winning only 17 out of 537 electoral college votes in his loss to Richard Nixon.  He even failed to win his own state - a state which had sent him to Congress 3 times by the time of the election.

Some 30 years later, Carter/McGovern democrats like me are few and far between.  We've mostly been branded as "liberals", a term which has become a dirty word.  In 2008 Obama talked of hope and the mostly dormant Carter/McGovern genes awoke and we sprung to our feet.  But a term and half later, we've sat back down, victims of yet another hoax. 

America's prosperity has been and will continue to be for a short time more, largely policy-driven.  America's world leadership is based not on admiration and collaboration, but fear. Sustainable and beneficial leadership cannot emerge from fiddling with the rules and playing the bully.  Those tactics can work for a while, but they will eventually flame out, as we are flaming out now.  If we are unable to pay for our Empire, I don't think anyone else needs us enough to come rushing to our rescue. Many have followed our lead and find themselves now needing to pay for years of keeping up with the Jones'.

So, in the end, it turns out that Carter's interdependent realism and McGovern's strength of spirit have left the Democratic party.  In its place remains merely a different view of how to fiddle with the rules and where to spread fear and where not to.

The Democratic Socialists are small, scattered and barely organized.  But unlike the what's left of the Democratic party, it speaks my language and I believe them when they talk.

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