Democratic Socialists of America

Bill Neinast


If you believe the government is already too large and too involved in our lives, you may want to avoid the current edition of The Week magazine.  Two pages of that edition may give you heartburn and keep you awake at night.

Pages 11 and 12 discuss the left ward drift of the Democrat Party and what that may mean for the future.

Specifically, there are discussions of the Democratic Socialists of America—the DSA.  One of the leaders of this movement is Senator Bernie Sanders who attracted millions of millennials to his presidential campaign in 2016.

Currently, however, the most prominent standard bearer of that movement is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  She stunned the nation by defeating 10-term incumbent Representative Joe Crowley in the New York Democratic primaries. 

So what is DSA?  Here’s The Week’s answer:  “It’s a national political organization that traces its lineage back to Eugene Deb’s Socialist Party from the early 20th Century.  Though still very small, DSA has grown from 5,000 dues-paying members in 2015 to more than 45,000 members in about 180 local chapters today.  DSA’s national platform calls for abolishing capitalism, nationalizing the entire health-care industry, ‘economic planning,’ ending ‘the influence of money in politics,’ and restructuring ‘gender and cultural relationships to be more equitable.’  Many of the socialist principles advocated by the DSA already enjoy broad support among millennials, who lived through the fallout of the Great Recession, are still struggling with low salaries and piles of college debt, and are cynical about capitalism and the promise of ‘the American Dream.’”

So, you are thinking, that will never happen here in conservative Texas.  Before getting too comfortable in those thoughts, you might want to consider the rest of the just quoted paragraph where you will find: “A 2016 Gallup poll found 55% of people between 18 and 29 said they had a positive view of socialism. ‘Already considered myself a socialist,’ says Amy Zachmeyer, now co-chair of the DSA, Houston Chapter, ‘but didn’t realize there were so many of us until Bernie Sanders kind of made it OK to talk about being a democratic socialist.’”  (underscoring added)

So the DSA is already here among us in Texas.  Thoughts of that not being of significance are addressed on page 12 of the magazine with the following: “Conservatives who laugh off Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic soloists should remember how a small band of activists who called themselves the Tea Party became a major factor in national politics, pulling Republicans and the public to the right.”

So what happens if the DSA enjoys the same success as the TEA Party?  The socialists will strive for everything being free.  Their first priority would be free medical care for everyone, free college education, and jobs for all.

The costs for all these free rights are inconsequential.  Simply raise the tax rates on the rich and businesses.

Take medicare for all as an example.  Sanders believes such a plan would cost only $1.4 trillion a year.  The nonpartisan Urban Institute, however, calculates the cost at about $2.5 trillion.

Sanders quickly challenges those higher estimates by explaining how medical costs will go down under socialism. He argues that, “...national health care could produce large savings by cutting payment rates to doctors and hospitals, eliminating insurance costs, and requiring drug makers to charge lower prices.”

Typically there is no consideration of the effects of those programs on the availability of medical care.  Under the DSA plan, doctors would, in effect, become employees of the government with increased workloads and lower pay.  How many men and women will be scrambling to get medical degrees under those conditions?

Medical personnels’ workloads will rise in inverse proportion to the lower pay.  Anything with a price tag that is now offered free can expect a hefty jump in desirability and use.

This thought takes me back 65 years to my first tour at Fort Hood.  One of my colleagues, Captain Ted Rachel, was the father of several children.  When he left early one day to take a daughter to the clinic, I asked him what problems she was having.

Ted’s answer was, “She has a cold.”  I said something like, “She has a cold? You don’t go to the doctor for just a cold!”

I remember his response of, “Why not?  It’s free,” like the conversation was yesterday.

Another incident at the same time and place involved a company commander who told me he would like to have a lie detector at the exit of his barracks.  His problem was the number of soldiers who claimed they needed to go on sick call every time a field exercise was scheduled.  That free medical care was a lot easier than sleeping on the ground in a pup tent and eating field chow for a week or so.

So here’s the perspective.

Think about Ted Rachel and that company commander every time Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and Amy Zachmeyer of the Texas DSA ask you to start paying for free medical care for everyone else.

This is all best summed up by a cartoon in last week’s issue of The Week.  There is a caricature of Ocasio-Cortez saying, “What America wants is socialism.”  Standing next to her is the figure of a man wearing a T-Shirt emblazoned with “Socialism.”  His caption is, “What Venezuela wants is water and toilet paper.”

If you have been keeping up with the unrest, protests, and riots in oil rich, socialistic Venezuela, the cartoon makes perfect sense.



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