Forget The “Socialism” Labels, Let’s Stick To Policies

If you had your ear cupped just right and were listening closely Sunday afternoon, you might have heard my head explode.

The pressure inside the old noggin has been building for months, thanks to what can be called politics as usual in Washington, D.C., and Des Moines. So, my friends and relatives were not surprised by what occurred about 2 o’clock Sunday.

My cranium could not contain the buildup any longer when I read that U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes of California was fuming about his visit to a restaurant in that state.

The waitress asked the congressman if he wanted a straw with his beverage. She explained that she now has to ask that question to remain on good terms with “the straw police.”

It was Nunes’ next comment that lit my fuse: “Welcome to socialism in California.”

Nunes wasn’t the first politician — and he will not be the last — to drag our nation into the quagmire known as the Socialism vs. Capitalism debate.

During his State of the Union speech in January, President Donald Trump said, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Afterward, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas contributed this to the discussion: “Socialism may begin with the best of intentions, but it always ends with the Gestapo.”

It’s not just Trump and the Republicans who are stoking this debate.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist from Vermont, has pitched gallons of fuel onto this fire with his proposals for taxpayer-paid college educations for everyone and for businesses to be required to provide every employee with 10 days of paid vacation each year, plus 12 weeks of paid family leave annually to care for a new baby, a sick relative or themselves.

Before Americans ever heard of the Gestapo, Congress created Social Security in 1935 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The monthly government checks were a way to provide modest assistance to the elderly, many of whom lived in extreme poverty.

Thirty years later, during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Congress created Medicare to address the nagging issue of people over age 65 often finding it virtually impossible to buy health insurance.

Those two programs sound a lot like socialism, with the federal government collectively providing for the health and welfare of the American people.

But even our current president, who was sounding the alarm about socialism when he spoke to the joint session of Congress in January, has promised to protect Social Security and Medicare. He knows Americans have grown to love the two programs, even though critics at the time they were created warned that the programs amounted to the dreaded “S” word.

Let’s get back to Devin Nunes and his drinking straws.

The California legislature passed a bill in 2018 that requires restaurants in that state to ask if diners want straws with their drinks, rather than automatically providing straws without being asked. The purpose of the law is to combat the growing problem of plastic waste polluting the Pacific Ocean, endangering whales and fish.

While Nunes was on Twitter complaining about the law, he was silent on other examples of what some might view as government programs having a decided socialistic flavor:

Such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s protections for dairy farmers (such as Nunes’ parents and his brother, who moved their dairy operation from California to Sibley, Iowa, in 2006).

Or, such as the federal government’s taxpayer subsidized insurance that protects farmers from losses resulting from natural disasters that reduce their crop yields or from falling commodity prices that reduce their income.

As my head recovers from the silliness about Devin Nunes and the drinking straws, can we set aside this nonsensical Socialism vs. Capitalism debate and, instead, have a serious discussion about real issues facing our nation and planet Earth and the various ways the government of the United States might deal with these problems?

Let’s not waste our time trying to pin the “racist” label on Donald Trump or the “hates America” label on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Do you hear me, political candidates and media pundits? Let’s talk about issues and stop with the labeling.


by Randy Evans
Posted 3/13/19

7 Comments on "Forget The “Socialism” Labels, Let’s Stick To Policies"

  • Thank you for this comment; it is nice to know I am not the only victim of exploding head syndrome. Does seem with the state rush to any unhelpful legislation for citizens combined with the release of federal helpful legislation we the people would indeed have something else to focus on and discuss.

  • Sen. Cotton? You know what leads to “Gestapo”? Fascism. Just like the policies of your Fuhrer…err…President, and those that you unthinkingly support. And the “National Socialists” in Germany were hardly “socialists.” Randy is abosultely correct. Show me policies; if I agree with them I’ll vote that way. If I don’t I won’t. And whether they’re “socialism” or “capitalism”, or some amalgam, I vote for what works for our country and its people.

  • But will our candidates read this and look to better their rhetoric when suggesting new or improved programs the state or federal government should adopt so that the need is not solely socialistic sounding . It wouldn’t hurt if first they would point out some of the giveaways to businesses that cost us taxpayers too, and do little for the masses .

  • The simple truth that no one wants to admit is that capitalism succeeds only with a healthy dose of socialism mixed in. If not, what we’re left with is feudalism.

  • unfortunately Republicans are not going to let that happen. They are sooo much better than Democrats at messageing and sticking to it. In 2016 it was “crooked Hillary and lock her up”.

    We can already clearly see the Message for 2020 will be “bad Democrats – socialists/commies”. Repugs are banking Dems will select Sanders or they will at least use Sanders, AOC, Warren, et al to define the party. Trump isn’t interested in a war in Venezuela, but Dems who are defending Maduro, etc are falling right into the Republican trap of aligning themselves with the socialist dictator. Same is going on with the “anti-semite” strategy in Isreal.

    Its right out in the open….and I think they will succeed. By painting Dems as socialists and then pointing to Maduro as what happens with socialist they have their campaign.

  • Randy, on the face of it, you are correct. Let’s focus on issues (and values) and stop the labeling. But the labeling comes from the Right. When Bernie and AOC talk about issues and policies, such as M4A, no tuition, Green New Deal, they are not calling those policies “socialism”; instead, they identify themselves publicly as democratic socialists.

    So, why did you choose to put Bernie’s “contribution” to the labeling in such negative terms (“pitching gasoline on the fire”)? He, like anyone else, has the right to say who he is and what he believes.

    Now, as a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), I do strongly believe that at some point during this crisis of capitalism, there does need to be a serious debate as to whether capitalism really meets the essential needs of the 99%. It does not.

  • The truth is that capitalism can only succeed with a healthy dose of socialism mixed in. Besides Medicare and Medicaid, schools, public universities, police and fire departments, infrastructure,etc, are all socialist institutions. Without socialism, we’d be back to a feudal society, which I imagine some Republicans would think is not such a bad idea.

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