Tuesday, July 3, 2018
It's shaping up to be a wild one. One can still feel the reverberations of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' victory. So much so that Alex Jones is warning conservatives of a plan to launch a Civil War on July 4 by the Democrats. Of course, it's nothing new from InfoWars, but Alexandria's embrace of democratic socialist values has lit up the conservative blogosphere, exclaiming a new socialist revolution is underway!
Meanwhile, the Democratic Den Mother, Nancy Pelosi, downplays Alexandria's surprise victory, noting the broad range of values represented in the party. Alexandria isn't the first "Berniecrat" to raid the big tent. That title went to Nanette Barragan two years ago, who rode into the US House of Representatives on pretty much the same message as Ocasio-Cortez, although with a stronger political background.
I think what galls many about Alexandria's victory in the New York primary is that she is a bartender from the Bronx. People are ignoring the fact she majored in economics and international affairs at the highly respected Boston University, and worked briefly for Ted Kennedy, before returning home and taking on low-end restaurant jobs to make ends meet with her struggling family. This is the kind of story normally reserved for Tea Party candidates. It's like a page has been stolen from their playbook and turned upside down.
Conservatives are now desperate to frame the mid-terms as a battle against socialism, fearing a leftist revolution rising up from the grass roots. They make no distinction between National Socialism, which spawned Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany and Franco's Spain; and Democratic Socialism, which is the prevailing form of government in Europe today. If they look for contemporary examples, they invariably point to Venezuela, the basket case of South America.
Bernie alluded to the Danish health care system repeatedly on the campaign trail, and Alexandria sounds the same drum, noting the successful universal health care systems in Europe, and also the fact that many European countries have low-cost universities and affordable housing. This is something we could have in the US if we just put our tax dollars in the right place, rather than plunging so much of it down a military rabbit hole never to be seen again.
Woe be it to anyone to intelligently discuss universal health care, tuition-free college or affordable housing. This is America, bitch, and we do things the old-fashioned way with everyone pulling themselves up by the boot straps! It doesn't matter that we already have a rudimentary socialist system in place, many Americans see a "free market" and "socialism" at diametrically opposite ends of the spectrum and refuse to accept any compromises, even if their social security check is a perfect example of socialism.
The only difference between Medicare and universal health care is that you have to wait until your 65 to collect the former, whereas everyone can have the latter from cradle to grave. Given how much we pay in FICA each year, there is no reason why we can't have universal health care in the US!
If conservatives in Congress have their way, they will gut Social Security to help pay for all the tax cuts they passed in December, 2017, even if it means only pennies back on the dollar to the typical worker.
I'm glad to see we finally have a revolution taking place, albeit a very nascent one, that may eventually force us to rethink how we spend our tax dollars. The US pours over 5 per cent of its annual GDP into the military, which has essentially become a welfare state for millions of Americans, when it could be providing tuition relief, universal health care, and affordable housing to everyone, not just service men and women and their dependents.
Our bloated defense budget is sucking up a major portion of our tax base, which Republicans continue to chip away at each Congressional session. There is no way to balance the budget based on current revenues, which is why Paul Ryan wants to pry open the social security reserve to help cover expenses. As it is, over $5 trillion is covered by Social Security. It is mismanagement that has led to our debt crisis, not domestic programs.
Sadly, you will have a hard time convincing many Americans of this. They prefer to think that more cost cutting is the answer, even if it means undermining the programs that help keep them going, i.e. food stamps, which many in the military have come to rely on to make ends meet, because the Pentagon would rather spend its budget on weapons than soldiers. The image persists of the welfare queen gaming the system so that she can drive around town in a shiny new Cadillac. Today, the cell phone has become the symbol of this gaming, even if you can buy a refurbished iPhone for a hundred bucks or less.
I'm glad to see that candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are reaching the base in their districts. I can only hope that other candidates find a way to reach disenfranchised conservatives who have allowed themselves to be played by cynical Republicans. This is what really roils Alex Jones and his conservative ilk. They don't want their base to turn on them when they find out there is very little that will trickle down to them in the form of tax cuts.