Some Democrats are getting worried about the surging popularity of Bernie Sanders. His rallies have drawn crowds as large as 28,000 in Portland and Los Angeles.
But is it going to hurt him, and the Democratic Party, that he's a self-proclaimed socialist? Bernie's answer is "What's wrong with that?" And I agree with him.
Rather, his Democratic Socialism is not the totalitarian socialism that Stalin forced on the people. He ruled by murder and fear -- but that was his totalitarianism, not the socialism. Totalitarianism is a means of enforcing a political system -- and it can be used to enforce various ideologies, socialism being one of them. An oligarchy could be another, which Russia seems to be becoming.
There have been two democratically elected socialist governments: Chile and Iran. The CIA was behind the overthrow of both of them. We backed a military coup in Chile and got the Pinochet reign. We restored the Shah to power in Iran, which then led to another overthrow that ushered in the theocracy they have today. And we wonder why the Iranians fear and hate us.
Of course, many European countries now have modified forms of democratic socialism -- some of the ones we envy for their social network and benefits to families, health care, education, and working people.
The truth is that Jesus of Nazareth would be a socialist. Using collective means to take care of the sick and needy, accepting the outcast, forgiving and not judging others; opposing the greed of the wealthy, sharing what you have, aka the parable of the loaves and fishes.
He didn't put it in Karl Marx's words -- "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" -- but that seems to describe what Jesus teaches in the New Testament of the Bible, what we have come to call the social gospel.
Obviously, I'm not talking about the "godless" part that some attribute
to socialism because of the Soviet communist regime. But atheism is not a
necessary part of socialism, any more than it is part of capitalism, even though the queen of self-interest and greed, Ayn Rand, preached atheism herself.
If you distill it to what Democratic Socialism really is as embraced by Bernie Sanders -- meaning it is chosen by the people and for the people -- it seems not much different from the social gospel of Jesus of Nazareth.