The campaign to demonize the Democratic party as being a socialist party has begun in earnest. It is imperative that voters understand what socialism is and why it originated.
In very simple terms it came about as a means of closing the gap between the rich and poor in a nation. It is about a fairer distribution of wealth in a nation. It is a belief that capitalism needs regulation and the distribution of wealth is determined by government policy.
Our constitution was written by our white male wealthy class, in which only they could vote and therefore keep people like themselves in power. It was a very limited form of democracy, more like a plutocracy, rule by the rich for the rich.
Socialism has its roots from the creation of the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism and the economic inequality it created. The first wave of capitalism in the United States gave rise to the “Robber Baron Era” of the late 19th century.
“Robber baron” is a derogatory metaphor originally applied to certain late 19th-century American businessmen who were accused of using unscrupulous methods to get rich, or expand their wealth. John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould and many others secured exorbitant wealth by building unregulated monopolies. They controlled the nation’s oil, steel and railroads and used their wealth to bankrupt competitors.
Working conditions were inhumane in the Robber Baron era. Children were used as part of the workforce, pay was low, with no safety regulations. Workers lived in poverty even though they worked long hours every day of the week.
The shifting of wealth to a very small group brought about political action in the form of the regulation of capitalism — to level the playing field for all companies. The Sherman anti-trust law of 1890 was our first attempt to regulate capitalism.
The election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 ushered in a progressive era in which we passed the 16th Amendment for an income tax, 17th Amendment for a popular vote to elect senators and the 19th to give women the right to vote.
The 1920 election gave us Republican rule again and created the Roaring Twenties with the laissez-faire theory of no regulation or interference of business by the government. It moved wealth to the top one percent like we had never seen before and resulted in the Great Depression.
The Republican Congress and president passed the Revenue Bill of 1932 which created the highest tax rates we have ever had, which remained in effect until the 1980s, and helped create the most prosperous middle class ever seen.
The election of 1932 gave Democrats control of the presidency and Congress brought reform to our economic system never seen before, with Social Security the main accomplishment.
Republicans believe in rule by the rich, for the benefit of the rich and support unregulated capitalism. They see nothing wrong with the unlimited concentration of wealth and power in the hand of a few people.
Democrats believe in a democracy in which everyone should have a voice in how our government is run. This requires easy access to the voting process through automatic registration of all eligible voters. Republicans want to suppress the number of people that can vote.
The NFL is a prime example of how socialism and capitalism work together. The league has a huge pot of money and it is shared by every team equally. There are caps on spending for all teams — there are no haves and have nots.
If providing people with Social Security, Medicare, free public education, good roads, closing the income gap, restricting money in political campaigns is the knock on socialism, give me more.
The labeling universal health care as radical socialism will be a huge debate in the 2020 elections. Every industrialized nation in the world provides their citizens with some form of universal health care.
The questions in 2020 will be: do we continue to allow wealth to move to the top .01 percent of the population, or do we vote for a more equitable distribution of the huge wealth in our country? Do we take climate change seriously and take steps to slow down the human impact on it or do we do nothing?
By Marvin Jacobsen
Photo Credit: The cartoon isfrom The Nib and is part of their post Socialism: As American As Apple Pie by Andy Warner and Jackie Roche
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