Tue, Sep 10, 2019 - Page 9 News List

Socialism used to be a dirty word, but the US might be ready to embrace it

Voters’ feelings on socialism have shifted with half of those 40 or younger saying they would prefer to live in a socialist country

By Gary Younge  /  The Guardian

Over the past 40 years, wages have stagnated in real terms, while the price of college has risen eight times as fast and the price of health insurance has also outpaced earnings.

At a local level, it is also a response to a sclerotic democracy riddled with entitlement, nepotism and corruption.

In southwest Pennsylvania, Innamorata beat Dom Costa. His extended family had dominated local politics for several years. One of his cousins, Paul, was defeated in his race for state representative by another socialist candidate, Summer Lee, an African-American woman. The previous year, another of Dom’s cousins, Ronald Costa, was beaten by Mikhail Pappas, another socialist candidate, for district judge.

In Chicago, where six socialist-backed candidates won seats to the 50-seat city council earlier this year, the same pattern of taking down a corrupt establishment was clear.

The city’s 33rd ward had been in alderwoman Deborah Mell’s family for the past 44 years. Her father, Dick Mell, the father-in-law of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (currently in jail for corruption and extortion), had held the seat since 1975.

When Dick retired in 2013, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel appointed his daughter as his successor. She lost the seat to a socialist candidate, Rosana Rodriguez-Sanchez.

Another socialist, Andre Vasquez, beat Patrick O’Connor, who has been on the city council for 36 years and was part of the overwhelmingly white council group that fought hard to block the agenda of Chicago’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington.

All three of the aldermen who preceded Jeanette Taylor, also backed by the Democratic Socialists of America, were indicted for fraud.

It is potentially in these local spaces that the shift to the left and the shift to the grassroots might meet. At the first ward meeting for Rodriguez-Sanchez, more than 60 people crowded into a small room, where their new representative said a few words before encouraging people to approach her or her staff with issues they would like raised.

Rodriguez-Sanchez beat Deborah Mell by just 13 votes. Every last piece of organization helped.

The Democratic Socialists played a role, local advocate Sandy Gutstein said, but so did lots of groups, including immigrants’ rights organizations and anti-racist campaigners.

“A lot of people were coming into the office who have not been involved in politics before,” she said. “I think people were attracted to the campaign because of that.”

Across town, that same night, Jeanette Taylor had to choose a ward superintendent, a paid position to monitor whether local people are getting the services to which they are entitled. Usually they are appointed, but Taylor held an election.

“I let the community decide,” she said. “Anything that’s going to get built in this community, it will be up for the community to decide whether it gets built or not. Three people applied. We heard a presentation from all three folks. They were asked to leave. We had some discussion and then they voted.”

According to Gallup, Americans are more likely to associate socialism with “equality” than “government ownership or control,” as they did in the 1940s.

“I don’t think it’s about class antagonism,” Chicago Teachers’ Union leader Jesse Sharkey said. “It’s about humane capitalism — having social control over the harshest features of capitalism, like healthcare and pensions.”

This story has been viewed 2637 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top