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"Have you guys forgotten how horrible socialism is!?"
Everyone is writing about Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. I have avoided the genre, perhaps out of a hipster inclination to produce 100% original content— even at the cost of, sometimes, being 99.9% irrelevant. But if I hear the same thing over and over again, I get scared of becoming brainwashed. And so I must write, to clear my head of the sulfurous chemicals, the cynicism and condescension that wafts from Facebook shares and conversational jokes. Here is the message I keep hearing, reading:
Young people like Bernie Sanders—
Because they think they like socialism—
Because they don't REMEMBER the horrors of socialism.
That line of thinking passes the test, on the surface. Doesn't it sound disrespectful, that these less-experienced voters might disregard past generations' years of research and discovery concerning socialism? Conversely, it sounds respectful to admit that only someone who was there to witness the Cold War would be able to understand socialism.
But don't digest this weak rhetoric for a minute. It's more of a dodge than an answer. By saying that historical amnesia constitutes Bernie Sanders' appeal, cynics stop themselves from thinking deeply about what democratic socialism means. It always seems easiest to avoid critical thought, but it certainly isn't what's best for our country.
The following question-and-answer, courtesy of the Democratic Socialists of America, gives a bit of insight into the difference between socialism and democratic socialism. In summary: Democratic socialism protects decentralized individual rights. The socialism that many people associate with Bernie Sanders is NOT this democratic socialism.
Not everyone can possibly agree with a democratic socialist's perspective on our nation's affairs. Bernie Sanders is not perfect. But if some people get up-in-arms about how kids these days are trying to get a Communist Commander-in-Chief elected, they are mistaken. As I have addressed, Sanders' policies are far from purely socialist. To attack another part of that poisonous thought: people of all age groups can feel the Bern.
At the Iowa Caucus, apparently the Vermont Senator's audience "was mainly made up of older generations." (HuffPost: Baby Boomers Feel the Bern.) And if "He sprinkles his remarks with '50 years ago' or '40 years ago' as he reminds his audiences of the progress in the United States," it's clear that he hasn't forgotten history. (The New York Times: Bernie Sanders's Message Resonates With a Certain Age Group: His Own.)
Vote for Bernie— or don't. But don't discount him or his supporters. Let's rephrase that aforementioned reasoning:
Some people like Bernie Sanders—
Because they they thought about democratic socialism—
Because they want to participate in an important moment of United States history.