Monday, July 2, 2018


I was not aware that "socialism" was a dirty word until coming to America in the early 1960s. I was never ashamed of my father for being an ardent socialist when I was growing up, nor was I ashamed for casting a ballot for my socialist candidates when I was old enough to vote. It seemed, well, the right thing to do, for a person with a social conscience and a concern for those less fortunate than myself. So, naive and simple-minded person that I am (with a bleeding heart, no less!), I was surprised and not a little dismayed to find that the very word was branded with social approbation in America.

Still, I have always been a socialist at heart. Americans, I secretly hoped, would one day learn that socialism was not the kind of virulently oppressive communism practiced in the Soviet Union for so many years, but rather a system of government whose purpose was simply to serve all the people, not just the privileged few; in other words to provide for citizens to enjoy such basic human beings' needs as health care, shelter, education and plans for their older years. In other words, "government of the people, by the people, for the people", as our greatest (socialist?) president, Abraham Lincoln, once memorably said.

So I am of course thrilled that there are finally candidates on the political horizon like the spunky and delightful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who are proudly proving themselves able and willing to rescue that noble word from the dustbin of American history and restore it to its proper use. I was thrilled to read (in Sunday's New York Times)a bout the Democratic Socialists of America and the response they are eliciting from smart young people--and even some naive old people like myself.

I have joined the group, with an at first minimal monthly subscription. I'm waiting a little while before going all-in because I have one big caveat: I will do nothing, this year, to endanger the party unity we need to bring down the Republicans in November. But I felt a glimmer of hope, this morning, reading about the DSA movement in the newspaper. I'll admit to having had reservations about the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, the acknowledged godfather of this organization--let's call it a movement--in the 2016 election. As a good socialist, I did not disagree with his arguments, but his (justified!) rage and spirit of rejection, in my opinion, did not bode well for his electoral chances.  As it turned out, I was right: he was unable to eke out a win.

But Ocasio-Cortez, and a handful of young women like her, have proved that they can win, and win spectacularly. As far as I can tell, it's because this particular young woman eschewed anger and devoted little of her energy to rejecting Trump, Trumpism and Republicans. Instead, she stuck obstinately to the presentation of an alternative--and basically socialist--vision of what America could be, and an acknowledgment of this wealthy country's obligation to every last one of its citizens. That's the kind of vision and the approach I can support.

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