I happened to catch the tail end of the CNN Iowa Democratic town hall event last night. And to my surprise, I found myself agreeing with a couple of the pundits afterward. They were talking about Bernie Sanders. I thought Van Jones made a good point by saying that when Bernie Sanders talks about "socialism" he needs to shut up about fucking Denmark already. He actually didn't use those words. But the next time an American voter asks Bernie Sanders what he means by "socialism," this is what I would whisper in his ear...
Look, Bernie, to most Americans, myself included, Scandinavia is just one big snowdrift where they wear wooden shoes. What? Oh, Holland? That's right. Legal prostitution. Semi-legal? Europe? Never mind. See, this is what I'm trying to tell you. Americans don't give a fuck about Scandinavia. Despite the fact that they kick our ass in every quality of life survey and ski naked. I've seen the pictures. Although, that could have been Aspen. Anyway...
This is what you gotta say: Social Security, Worker's Compensation, Unemployment Insurance. Born under FDR as a result of the Great Depression and largely responsible for the fact that we didn't see people standing in bread lines after the bankers crashed the world economy. Socialist. Booya!
The GI Bill, which gave our veterans a place to start after they came home from World War II. Socialist! That's what I'm talking about!
The Interstate Highway System under Eisenhower. So companies could move their goods more easily and quickly across the country. Socialist! Come on dude, you gotta Elizabeth Warren this mo' fo'.
The space program, also under Eisenhower. Then the race to the moon under Kennedy. Handed private industry so many technological innovations. Socialist? Hell, we out-communisted the Communists!
The Pentagon, beloved by Republicans (except Rand Paul) and whose budget is never really cut, the question only ever is the speed at which it will increase. That's 573 billion dollars worth of socialism! That's right, I hyperlinked that: just to show I'm not making this shit up.
The Internet, for fuck's sake! Sorry, did I spit in your ear? I'm getting excited. That digital equivalent of the Interstate Highway System that put Mom and Pop adult bookstores out of business -- developed at the Pentagon and public universities. Socialist!
The library -- where that Ted Cruz-endorsing idiot Glenn Beck claims he got so smart and was available to him because it was "free." That makes him a library card-carrying socialist
You do a good job hammering the big banks. But you have to remind the people that in addition to the bailouts, banks are chartered by the government to hand out money. Government IOUs. That's what money is. In addition, their deposits are insured by the government up to 250K. These are, by definition, socialist enterprises that want to act like they could survive in a free market. They're like the kid who has to keep moving back into his parents' place, because he can't make it out in the world selling pot. History proves over and over again that financial institutions can't really thrive outside the government nest. Which by my reckoning makes that Master of the Universe, Jamie Dimon, a stone cold pussy.
And what about all of those industries that socialize the costs and privatize the profits? For instance...
The nuclear industry would not exist without billions of dollars of taxpayer provided loan guarantees. How is that not socialist? And don't even get me started on the subsidies we are still giving the fossil fuel industry. The fossil fuel industry?! That's right. 34 billion dollars for the poor bastards!
Big Pharma: So many of the big drug breakthroughs are developed at the National Institute of Health and public universities. Socialist! OK, maybe not the dick pills, but most of the other stuff.
You also have to stop people from thinking you are demonizing entrepreneurship. The other pundit, Michael Smerconish, said something like that. Entrepreneurship: that's a sacred American idea. That's why all of that stuff you're saying about education is great, but you need to emphasize that it's about leveling the playing field to create more entrepreneurs. Use Donald Trump, that classic "born on third base and thought he hit a triple" guy, whose humble beginnings included his father giving him a million dollars. That's a million dollar head start when so many young people today are starting out tens of thousands of dollars in the hole.
(No need to tell Smerconish that the free market is a fiction and always has been. It would be like telling him there's no Santa Claus. Capitalists are very sensitive about that. Shhh...)
These are just a few of the things that are all a part of a hallowed tradition most of us take for granted.
Our proud tradition of American "keep your dirty government hands off of my Medicare" socialism.
Now, maybe you're saying all this on the stump and I'm just not hearing it. I only get the fundraising emails.