|Is Bernie a socialist?|
But “socialism” as a word is poison in this country, except among the young, in large part because it’s associated with failed authoritarian Marxist states. A recent Gallup poll found that half of Americans would not vote for a socialist. More people said they could accept an atheist as president than someone with the scarlet S.
So we don’t like “them.” But we do like many of their ideas. We can thank Senator Bernie Sanders, self-proclaimed democratic socialist, for this healthy debate. This week, Donald Trump called him a “communist.” If so, you can find broad public support for most of the things advocated by the commie from Brooklyn.
A majority of Americans feel “money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed,” according to a CBS News/New York Times poll. Sanders wants to raise the minimum wage; so do 71 percent of Americans. Sanders believes corporations have too much influence on politics, as do 74 percent of Americans. And one of the biggest socialist programs — the single payer Medicare system that is a lifeline to more than 50 million people — is also one of the most popular.
Nearly one in four people in this country gets electricity from a consumer-owned or co-op utility — socialism throughout the heartland. And when President Obama considered privatizing a big government utility and dam operator, the Tennessee Valley Authority, he was met with squawks of protest from some of the most conservative precincts in America.
Obama is no socialist. A socialist would have nationalized General Motors, instead of returning it to capitalistic solvency. A socialist would not have presided over a doubling of the stock market, without adding significant new taxes to Wall Street’s biggest beneficiaries...
Capitalism at its best gives us iPhones and 400 kinds of ice cream and rewards enterprise and innovation. The free market has no small amount of magic. At its worst, capitalism produces pharmaceutical companies that gouge for lifesaving drugs, insurance companies that drop people once they get sick, and a system where secretaries pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes than billionaires who do nothing.
Socialism at its best can run an army, a health care system and provide quality education for those who otherwise couldn’t afford one. Libraries and fire departments are socialist institutions. So is the Interstate System of highways created under President Eisenhower. Ditto the nation’s most popular cultural enterprise, the National Football League, which shares its television billions with losers among the teams. At its worst, socialism is grim and stifling, a dead-end for creativity.
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