Commentary: On the mythical dangers of democratic socialism

Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart speaks before the House Republican Caucus Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Stewart compared President Donald Trump's governing style to Rodney Dangerfield's golfer character in "Caddyshack," saying that while the president's style is "very, very loud," and distracting, he's able to do what he's trying to achieve. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

As the millennial generation comes of political age, led by rising newcomers like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, there is more and more interest across the nation in democratic socialism, a system, according to the Democratic Socialists of America, where, “social and economic decisions are made by those whom they most affect.” Independent Bernie Sanders continues to inspire, but it’s the younger generations that are the future.

None of this has been lost on the political right. From Donald Trump to Rush Limbaugh, they have wasted no time demonizing anything with the word “socialism” in it.

For example, my representative in Congress, Chris Stewart, recently announced that he has formed an “Anti-Socialism Caucus” to “inform lawmakers and the public on the dangers of socialism and to serve as a bulwark to stop the advancement of socialist policies and legislation.” His (taxpayer-funded!) website claims that “wherever [socialism] rears its head, it leaves a wake of destruction in lives and freedoms lost.”

I’m sure that Stewart means well. But we don’t really need his reactionary caucus, especially when “the dangers of socialism” are fictitious.

Our granddaughter attends an elementary school that doesn’t send an expensive bill to her parents. In fact, it doesn’t send a bill at all. That’s because it’s one of those public (socialist!) schools where students mingle with all sorts of other kids, effectively manifesting the “melting pot” ideal of American democracy.

Then there’s garbage collection. Every Monday morning we put our cans out there by the curb and, sure enough, one of those socialist city trucks inevitably comes by and empties them. No muss, no fuss. And no exorbitant fee, either.

Both of these socialistic public services use our city streets, as do the rest of us. They’re not the best streets in the world, but hey, we don’t have to pay a toll to some private corporation every time we use them, either. We all share the cost, socialism-style, with our annual taxes.

Sometimes we go to the downtown library to enjoy an art exhibit, hear a public lecture, borrow books and videos, etc. Oddly enough, the only thing we pay for is parking.

I belong to a civic group called Move to Amend that aims to get Big Money out of our corrupt political system and thereby have real democracy in this country. Guess where we hold our monthly meetings. Yep, in that same (socialist) library!

I could cite all sorts of other public services that we citizens support by pooling our taxes, such as the fire department, police department, courts, VA, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, disease control, etc. It’s hard to see how any of this has left “a wake of destruction in lives and freedoms lost,” to use Stewart’s words.

Speaking of Stewart, I find it interesting that such a fervent opponent of socialism has devoted well over half his career working for a socialistic organization, the U.S, government! It gives him (taxpayer-funded) health care and other benefits for himself and his family – for life. It’s what could be called “socialism for the few.”

Much better, in my view, would be to have democratic socialism for all, like more advanced countries do. How about it, Mr. Stewart?

Tom Huckin

Tom Huckin is a professor emeritus at the University of Utah, specializing in the study of modern propaganda, which is more ubiquitous today than ever. He gives his dog, Deena, a daily walk in one of our (socialist) city parks, during which he composes essays like this.