Why Is Socialism So Scary?
"Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself." - Ferris Bueller
I noticed with this site's Facebook page there seems to be more interest when I write something instead of only posting a set of headlines. So, I added this area to include more of my own analysis. This is my first attempt at a blog post, and it's probably best to start nice and slow and not with anything too controversial. Naturally, I chose socialism as the first topic, and it has been in the news lately. These are some articles from the past week across the political spectrum mentioning "socialism." What surprised me was the range of subjects of these articles. They include the Georgia senate races, green energy, and "defund the police." One is even about Puerto Rican statehood! And it wasn't a stretch to mention it either! The article includes a quote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explaining that this would lead to socialism.
While I don't know that there is widespread fear of socialism in the United States, Republican messaging in the Georgia senate races shows they think there is. Or at least that the threat of socialism will motivate their supporters to vote. The senate races are being framed as the last chance to prevent socialists from taking over. The strange part about this argument is the United States already has socialism. Taxes fund police and fire departments, schools, libraries, building roads and bridges, and lots of other things I haven't thought to list. Payroll taxes fund Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Workers unions collectively bargain with their employers for wages and benefits. These have all occurred in the United States for decades, and it hasn't meant that we are a socialist country. It hasn't meant that big government claimed ownership of every business and ended all capitalist policies. We've never had a purely capitalist or purely socialist system. These policy debates are really over striking the proper balance between the two. And there are real debates to have about the "socialist" policies being proposed. However, labelling them as bad simply because they are socialist is a way for politicians to play on voters' fears, instead of having these more complex debates.
On the other hand, politicians make these choices because they work. They have found these messages to be effective in gaining support and winning elections, despite this essentially being a way to avoid doing their jobs. However, since there are so many policies that fall under socialism, including some already existing in the United States, these fears being exploited probably aren't fears of socialism. Are people really afraid of policies that could make the United States more like Canada or any Western European country? Assuming the answer is "no" and the real fear is of becoming more like the Soviet Union, I'd argue dismissing socialist policies is counter-productive. We should be more supportive of policies that help create opportunities and help those who are less fortunate. The Soviet Union was not the result of universal healthcare or public education. It was the result of Czarist Russia, a society where most people lived in poverty while a select few had great wealth.