Call him a ‘socialist,’ but many Americans agree with Bernie Sanders: "'[60%] of Americans agree with him that the ‘economic system unfairly favors the rich...'"
Is America ready for the “S” word?
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats in Congress, is the only candidate so far to challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president.
Sanders, who is 73 and has been in Congress nearly a quarter century, describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”
Although Sanders won re-election to the Senate in 2012 with 71% of the vote in his state, it is, to say the least, not politically correct in this country to call yourself any kind of socialist.
John Nichols, a writer for The Nation, titled his 2011 book, “The ‘S’ Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism,” precisely because, he said, “it is the subject of daily derision, a derision that is at once more intense and more ignorant than at any point in the long history of the United States.”
That is due in no small part to the sharp right turn taken by the Republican Party and the steady stream of right-wing blather on radio and television, where “socialist” is used as shorthand for big government, welfare, high taxes, and any other nefarious policy Rush Limbaugh and his cohorts care to attach to it.
But it is also due to the residue of the long Cold War demonization of communism and the failure of centrally planned economies in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cuba, and China.
Of course, the Marxism-Leninism of those countries is only one strand of a progressive socialist tradition that also includes social democracy in its various forms, which is still a vital political force in most European countries — most prominently in Scandinavia.
Comfortable in the conviction that the U.S. is the biggest, strongest economy in the world with the highest standard of living, Americans have for decades tended to sneer at these European countries as inferior, bogged down economically by anti-business policies.
But it is slowly dawning on wide portions of the American public — crushed by stagnant wages, robbed of middle-class jobs by competition with low-wage countries, deprived of health care, burdened by student debt and the astronomical costs of a college education — that this supposed superiority of ours is no longer true, if it ever was.