Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why the Socialists Will Always Be a Fringe Party in American Politics

For the first time in my life, there is a candidate for the President for the United States for a major party who has a chance of winning the nomination who is also, at least in part, a Socialist. There have been many presidents and even more candidates with agendas that came originally from a Socialist agenda, suitably sanitized and sold to the American public, but none to the best of my knowledge that could explicitly identify their origin as Socialist.   And there have been major candidates (and contenders) who have been slandered by their opponents as being Socialists, or even card-carrying Communists, who of course were nothing of the sort.  

But as long as one hides the origins of ideas, a reasonable portion of the Socialist agenda from the 1920s and the 1930s were achieved in this country for a period of time, such things as the 5-day and 40 hr work week are all from the Socialist agenda and were opposed by all the major parties as being too radical, back in the day.

So with Bernie Sanders being a leading candidate for the Democratic Party nomination, I thought it would be interesting to see how the “real” Socialists, the hardcore, the truly committed, what they thought about his progress.

The answer is too predictable to even be funny.

They hate him.

No, more than that. They passionately despise him.

You see, a real Socialist would never work with the Democratic Caucus in Congress. A real Socialist would never, ever disagree with the Party Line in any way. To do so would be betrayal, and that is what Bernie is in their eyes. A traitor to the cause.

So helpfully, has published a nice 6 page article on all the things you must be willing to die for to be a Socialist, or you are not a Socialist.

For example, in order to be a Socialist, you must immediately call for the destruction of Israel in order to protest their “genocidal” policies against the “Palestinians” or you are not a Socialist. Say again, what? Although I think that pretty much every American wishes that particular conflict to go away and many of us are aware that it never will, to make that a precondition for Socialism means that the Socialists have no interest in being in any way a part of the mix of American politics.

This helpful piece goes further into the beliefs of a real Socialist, but most of all he makes clear that any failure to completely support *all* of these issues means that you are not a Socialist.  What I like about this approach is that it is very clear.  Clear writing is important.  Ambiguity can be good as well, but ambiguity allows doubt.  Ambiguity might promote inclusiveness and the point of this well written article is the opposite of inclusiveness.  If one could be a "Cafeteria Socialist" then there are many of their proposed economic policies that I think Americans would find appropriate.

Its all very well to say that we must prosecute Pres Bush and Pres Obama for war crimes, but I think it is going to be hard to build a consensus to go after both of them.   In fact I would venture that about half the American public would agree to one but not the other, and the other half the reverse.   

Unilaterally destroy all nuclear weapons?  That would be nice!  Call for full employment and unionized workplaces?  Absolutely.   Declare Global Warming an emergency and invest in renewable energy and turn away from fossil fuels.  I am all for it.  Nationalize all public utilities, banks, railroads and energy companies? You bet. Give full citizenship immediately to all undocumented workers?   Hmmm, thats quite a few people, isnt it  Give $600/week to anyone who is unemployed or disabled.  Sure! Demilitarize all police (e.g. disarm all police).  Uhh, well, uhh.

And he goes on and on and on, irrespective of whether or not any of these can achieve a legislative majority, and certainly without prioritizing.  They are all equally important.  I think by the time he is through there might be several 1000 people nationwide who will agree with his entire agenda.  Maybe.

Impractical is not the word.

I like it when he goes on to say ... 

Socialists do not sacrifice the weak and the vulnerable, especially children, on the altars of profit. And the measure of a successful society for a socialist is not the GDP or the highs of the stock market but the right of everyone, especially children, never go to bed hungry, to live in safety and security, to be nurtured and educated, and to grow up fulfill his or her potential. Work is not only about a wage, it is about dignity and a sense of self-worth.

Whether our Socialist likes it or not, or whether the Tea Party likes it or not, the American political system is based on being able to find a workable compromise.  Extremists who insist on moral purity make the system unworkable as the Tea Party has proven so well over the last decade or so.

So what this article convinces me is that Socialism, at least in its pure form, does not have a chance in hell in the American political system, short, perhaps, of armed revolution.

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