… by which I mean;
“Hey Bernie! Since you’re happy enough to refer to your self as a “democratic socialist”, and since you ain’t gonna change it (which would be a bigger problem by far) and since there’s a clutch of godknows how many people—whose votes you might enjoy—out there with either ambiguity or outright error in their minds about what that means, and since it’s a damn good idea to tinker with that issue, here’s an argument you might find useful.”
On one end of that clutch, the easy end, there are thoughtful people who are just not familiar with you or your political record, and who are not reflexively spooked by the word “socialism”. These folks you just have to say “howdy” to, basically, and they’ll stick around to hear more.
Bernie Sanders. Paging Mr Bernie Sanders. White courtesy telephone please….
On the other end, the tough end, are many people still reflexively using vocabularies from the Cold War, and who are damn sure they know what a socialist is and they don’t want any fucking part of it you commie piece of shit. These folks you just stuck with a cattle-prod and they won’t support you at gunpoint.
Hanging around in the deep and complex interface between those ends are some other thoughtful people who maybe think they know what socialism is, but have been misinformed and just don’t. Or they kinda know what it is, but don’t recognize socialism for the rich in terms of tax breaks and subsidies and so on, as, well, socialist in their widest principles.
So the way forward here is to frame the discussion in terms of socialism, at least in it’s economic bare-bones context, having long been a permanent presence in US political and economic thought and practice.
“Hey look!” I hear you growl, “There’s nothin’ new or weird about it!” — Socialism ain’t Voldemort for crissakes (thanks GreenLake), it’s possible to say it out loud. We pay taxes. The gummint takes that money and spends it on shit. All kinds of shit. This is 2015, can we say “shit” on TeeVee now? Everyone says it all the time around here.
Anyway, taking tax money and spending it on education is socialism. School buses are a socialist enterprise. Tax cuts for millionaires is socialism too along with oil subsidies and more military expenditure than the next dozen or so nations in the Galaxy combined, and, well, you get the picture. You can make a better list than I to close out that inning.
Where we’re headed here is to take command of defining the meaning of “socialism”, because if we don’t, someone else will, and will keep a lot of people’s political wheels bogged down in a linguistic evolutionary backwater. Command of the vocabulary in this instance is not, emphatically not, a football you can just allow to bounce around loose.
We need to define it as a wide principle, a principle which is a constant presence in US politics. There will be nitpickers, there will be scholars, there will be learned readers of the works of Dead White Men who will wish to Bring Things Up. They may well even be right, but fuck ’em. Nobody reads those guys anymore anyway.
Socialism in the form of Medicare and Social Security are hated by the right wing, but are hugely popular is spite of the “free marketeers” best efforts to describe how stupid it is because hey, you know, you could make so much more money if you made those payments into some private financial investment and boy do I have some triple A recommendations right here in this portfolio. Except, of course, for those times when you’d lose money in a big way, so hey, you know, nothin’ wrong with hedging some bets, eh? With another private financial institution, naturally. I have some excellent recommendations for you there too, of course.
Anyway, so now the discussion is framed realistically, both recognizing and illustrating that the socialist principle of taking tax money and spending it for the “public good” is the common denominator here. Never mind what Rupert fucking Murdoch or Paul Ryan or Karl Marx say “socialism” is, we’re talking about what Bernie means by it, and that doesn’t have to be a deeply scholarly thing at all. Better if it’s not. What it does need is to be comprehensible, which means getting it down as close as possible to a catchy bumper sticker. And then push it to become, gradually and as much as possible, what the word comes to mean for the purposes of this election.
Which then means the fight, and boy is there ever going to be a fight, is now not so much about language and old habits and name-calling, but more about what we mean by “public good” and what’s the best way to spend that tax money so we can move toward it.
What Bernie would call “actual issues”.
Bernie’s lifelong position on economic justice and the question of who should be the primary beneficiaries of government spending is rock-solid. Ordinary people should be at the front of the line. The conservative angle is that government’s primary responsibility is to business, and the bigger the business the more government help that business will get. Oil and Ag subsidies etc etc. Selling off public assets dirt cheap to private companies in the extractions industry. Room for some traditional Bernie boilerplate in here somewhere. Then behold! The benefits of that will trickle down to everyone. A rising tide lifts all boats and blah blah. No mention of what happens with a rising tide to those who can’t afford a boat and we better be damn sure not to upset Jesus and .. well hell, it all just is a religion all-of-a-piece for some of these muppets, what with Biblical flat taxes and Bronze Age morality carefully cherry-picked and marginally sanitized for today’s market and …
Where was I?
Oh right. Taking control of defining what the word “socialist” means for this election period. Hey, attack the crap out of Bush(s)(s) for implementing their kind of socialism! Why the hell not? They’re socialist to the fucking bone when it comes to costs and people know it, but they don’t think of it like that very often. The first word which pops into their head when they think about what in good Lancashire company were once called “those worthless tossers” is not “socialism”.
Maybe it should be.
Then it’s just a matter of selling Bernie’s flavor of socialism by comparison with the GOP’s version. A socialism which recognizes that the source of all sovereign power rests where it’s fucking supposed to rest, with the people, and not with a bunch of obscenely wealthy crony capitalist wankers.
Oh, and it’s not just the GOP which supports measures which benefit that latter group, not nowadays, is it Hillary?
I had meant to get this together in plenty of time before the 1st debate, but firewood intervened and I see now you’re almost certainly in the Green Room waiting to go on.
Plenty of time yet, methinks.