Letter: Trump supports socialism for rich

Published 9:36 pm Friday, June 21, 2019

“Socialism is the epithet they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years… Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.” These words, spoken by President Harry Truman, continue to be true in today’s political climate.

Social Security, Medicare, farm price supports, bank deposit insurance, labor unions and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have all been decried as socialist. Even though these programs are quite popular today, socialism continues to be used as a scare word.

Political opponents continue to use the term socialist in an effort to devalue Bernie Sanders’ policy ideas and those of other progressives. Some even insinuate that Bernie is a threat to our democracy while President Trump routinely refers to him as “crazy Bernie.” Bernie Sanders is neither crazy nor a threat to our nation, but he is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist.

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On June 12, Bernie gave a speech at George Washington University describing exactly what that means: “We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights and that is what I mean by democratic socialism.” That doesn’t sound the least bit crazy to me.

During his speech, Bernie made public his own 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights, which includes affordable housing, a quality education, a secure retirement, health care, a clean environment and a decent job that pays a living wage. Bernie believes, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, that “individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” This doesn’t sound like a threat to our democracy; it is an extension of the freedoms we love so much.

These ideas mirror the policies in the social democracies of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland (all among the happiest countries of the world). They are not in any way comparable to authoritarian regimes with little to no freedom such as Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Our current model was described by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. “This country has socialism for the rich; rugged individualism for the poor.” This model has created significant wealth inequality. Trump not only supports, but he benefits from this “socialism for the rich.” The Trump family received $885 million in tax breaks and subsidies last year out of the hundreds of billions of dollars in federal support given to corporate America.

It is likely that in 2020 we will have a choice between two socialists: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Given the choice between a democratic socialist and a corporate socialist, I am voting for the democratic socialist.

Angie Hanson

Albert Lea