Let’s Talk About Socialism

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President Donald Trump took a moment in this year’s State of the Union (delayed due to his government shutdown) to denounce socialism and declare that America would never be a socialist nation. Republicans all stood and clapped, as did a few Democrats who I won’t name here. I respect many of those Democrats and I think they stood up because when people say things like “socialist nation” they see Venezuela in crisis. But they are wrong  because that is not the “socialist” future of America.

I am a firm believer in socialism and have been since high school. In 1996, I voted for the Socialist Party because I wanted to send a protest vote to Bill Clinton. But I am also a solid Democrat and have voted party line since 2004 (damn that Ralph Nader). Last yea, I also paid my Democratic Socialists of America dues and became a member. Still, I am too left for the Democrats (a changing dynamic) and way too “centrist establishment” for DSA (hopefully a changing dynamic).

Here is what DSA stands for:

One of the reasons I joined DSA and want to move the Democrats left is because we are not facing a looming crisis of socialism in America–we are facing a crisis around hyper-capitalism. The 2020 campaigns need to be framed around this construct. We are not in danger of becoming Venezuela, we are in danger of becoming Zimbabwe.

One of the biggest gripes I have with the party is that we always demand to be “realistic” about policies. “Medicare for All will never work because we can’t afford it!” So instead we start negotiations ahead of the actual negotiation and come up with some middle of the road policy that gets further negotiated down because Democrats have to “give” something. The best version of this comes with former Senator Max Baucus canning a public option because it wasn’t reasonable.

I love this new class of freshman Democrats in Congress because they are pushing back against this vicious cycle. Does the New Green Deal have a lot of stuff that is pie-in-the-sky? Yes. Will it change? Yes. Are we going to ban air travel? No. Will we talk about its effect on the globe and make changes? Yes. So could the Green New Deal transform the way we talk about climate change and try to balance both the environmental and economic costs associated with reforms? Yes!

While the DSA-esque economies of Europe and Asia hum along and grow, America is in grave danger of becoming something more like Russia or Zimbabwe. In short, Robert Mugabe, the longtime dictator running the African country, has used its economy as a personal piggybank and run up such high deficit and inflation that it prints one billion dollar bills not recognized outside its borders. You don’t think Trump would love to see a billion dollar bill with his image on it?

So the reason I want to push toward the DSA model is because people like Steve Daines and Greg Gianforte and their Wilks Brother backers are pushing us toward the Mugabe model with Trump as the stand-in. They stand to benefit from the system, the rest of us do not. The DSA model, a model that encourages *gasp* the workers controlling the means of production, ensures that people not oligarchs have a bigger voice. If American’s socialist future means we have this model then yes, I am all-in. Not for Our Revolution but rather for Our Reformation. Hopefully one that a woman will lead to get us through these recent and past traumas with an eye to America’s socialist past under that evil Franklin Delanor Roosevelt. The president whose administration saved America from downfall and a Nazi threat. This is the socialist nation many of us envision returning to.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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  • One of the most frequently used tactics by the far right is to co-opt the terminology of the opposition and, by incessant, virulent ranting, create negative associations. It’s nasty, it’s stupid, it’s insulting; but as long as such a disgustingly high percentage of voters are eager to let someone else do their thinking for them, it will continue to be somewhat effective.

    It’ll be a generation before anything with the word “socialist” attached can be discussed without that association.

      • I don’t disagree, and that may very well be the best way forward, but we need to recognize that such a seismic shift in society is for the long haul.

        Look at the ongoing challenge of comparable shifts in advancing women’s equality, LGBTQ constitutional protections, fighting off voter suppression, a century & a half of battling for civil rights.

        Underestimating the vicious hatred displayed by millions of reactionary people determined to maintain established privilege won’t achieve the results we hope for. Look at the trumpchumps foaming at the mouth about anything and everything that doesn’t look and sound like their own ignorance.

        H L Mencken observed, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

  • Right on, Josh! The vast majority of Americans couldn’t spell socialism, much less describe its intent. And, thanks to the aforementioned FDR, we went down that road decades ago. Clearly, anyone with a K-12 education, an open and enquiring mind, and any sense of justice, can see that the present system is so unmercifully unjust and unsustainable that something must change–and change it will….

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Josh Manning

Josh Manning is a combat veteran who lives in Helena. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Time and Newsweek and he has appeared on MSNBC and CNN. He was a primary researcher to the recently published New York Times bestseller "The Plot to Destroy Democracy" by MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance. You can follow him on Twitter @joshuamanning23

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