After Bernie Sanders was thrust into the public eye and questioned by CNN about his democratic socialism during Tuesday’s debate, the far right has exploded with a barrage of anti-socialist fury, full of outrageous misconceptions and astonishing fear-mongering that would make Joseph McCarthy proud. It is very clear that few Americans have any idea what democratic socialism actually entails, and the right has instantly began reviving Cold War fears and associating Bernie Sanders’ ideals with the brutal totalitarian dictatorships of the 1950s.
Desperate Republican candidate Rand Paul went on a radio show and made this astonishing statement:
“scares me… I’ve been making and spending more time going after Bernie and socialism because I don’t want America to succumb to the notion that there’s anything good about socialism. I think it’s not an accident of history that most of the times when socialism has been tried, that attendant with that has been mass genocide of people or any of those who object to it. Stalin killed tens of millions of people, Mao killed tens of millions of people. Pol Pot killed millions of people. When you have a command economy, when everything is dictated from one authority, that’s socialism,” Paul said. “But it doesn’t come easily to those who resist it.”
This comes on the heels of Texas Rep. Jason Villalba saying that Bernie Sanders was a democratic socialist…just like the Nazis. It was an inevitable reaction from the right, who take all their cues from the ultra-wealthy free-market fascists who have no desire to see income inequality return to reasonable levels or to see the power of the corporate oligarchs restrained.
Socialism has absolutely nothing to do with totalitarian dictatorship, which is what Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot instituted in their countries. Democratic socialism, as practiced in Denmark and the other Nordic nations, operates on the principle that capitalism and corporate profits should not be the driving force of society; rather, that the well-being, prosperity, and happiness of the people should come first. Consider that the New York Times just reported that “Denmark has a slightly higher tax load on its citizens than the United States. But it also has budget surpluses, universal health care, shorter working hours, and was recently rated by Forbes magazine as the best country in the world for business.”
Does that sound like a dreary dystopia to you? Americans need to recognize the ideological differences between the different methods of governance and the benefits that they hold for the American nation and not listen to the ridiculous propaganda coming from the right. Rand Paul is far out of line with these disgusting comments, and it just goes to show how politically ignorant he really is.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.