Even before the Cold War and the so-called "McCarthy Period" (named after Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy), individuals and groups on the political and theocratic Right have flung the term "Socialist" from their metaphoric sling shots into the faces of their political opponents to discredit their characters and dismiss their political ideas and policies, and to sway the electorate toward a Conservative agenda. This continues to this very day as evidenced by the Tea Party's representations of President Obama and various other Democratic politicians.
As destructive and as freedom-killing as the Right would have us believe, according to the World English Dictionary, Socialism involves "a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole," where each of us has a stake and advances in the success of our collective economy.
No country in the world today stands as a fully Socialist state, but rather, some of the most successful economies combine elements of Capitalism with Socialism to create greater degrees of equity and lesser disparities between the rich, the poor, and those on the continuum in between.
I, therefore, would say to those who thrust the term "Socialist" as an epithet, if a Socialist is one who advocates for a governmental single-payer quality universal health care system, which includes safe and reasonably-priced prescription and over-the-counter drug therapies, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who demands that our country protects and enhances our Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid safety nets, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who advocates for the further nationalization of our parks, forests, mountains, rivers, streams, shores, and off-shore waters, rather than allocating increased corporate mining, drilling, and timber rights, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who advocates for free and quality education, not only through grade 12, but throughout higher education and after for everyone who desires and works to achieve their fullest potential, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who advocates for a government-sponsored program that guarantees our seniors a retirement system that ensures a high quality of life free from economic burdens, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who advocates for the rights of workers to organize and to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who battles to eliminate workplace and larger societal inequalities based on race, nationality, citizenship status, age, sex, sexual identity, gender expression, disability, socioeconomic standing, religion, and other social identities, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who works to ensure that everyone is guaranteed a comfortable and secure place to live, and one who fights against a banking system that forecloses people's homes through scurrilous business practices, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who supports effective governmental regulations on food producers to safeguard our food supply and protect against the maltreatment of animals, and on corporations, companies, and individuals to defend our environment, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who supports severe restrictions on the political process to prevent mammoth contributions by individuals and corporations to buy and own politicians to influence public policy, while locking out individuals and groups unable to amass large political funds, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who challenges a military industrial complex that marches to the beat of industry, and a prison industrial complex that perpetuates the racial and socioeconomic class inequities pervasive throughout the society, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who contests and advocates for effective restrictions on the so-called "free market" economic system that enables the creation and enhancement of mega monopolies, outsourcing of jobs, manufacture of defective products, and inhibition in the development of clean renewable energy technologies, then I am a proud Socialist!
If a Socialist is one who demands a true progressive tax structure where everyone pays their fair share, one that inhibits massive inequities in the overwhelming accumulation of wealth by the top one percent of the nation as is currently the case, then I am a VERY proud Socialist!
This year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conducted its "Better Life Index" to determine the "happiest countries in the world," according to its residents. Based on an 11-measure survey assessing quality of life, including housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, health, work-life balance, and life satisfaction, all the Scandinavian countries, plus The Netherlands and Austria, and only one North American country, plus Australia and Israel reached the top 10 countries.
Included in descending order are number one, Denmark, followed by Canada (which provides a single-payer health care system unlike its North American neighbor, the United States), Norway, Australia, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Israel, and Austria. I am saddened, but definitely not surprised, that the United States did not make the cut. Therefore, we might do well to look to these countries for some of their "Socialist" policies that sustain high levels of quality of life issues for their residents.
So, I will never again allow those who wish to continue the economic and social status quo to use the term "Socialist" as a means of intimidation flung as an epithet, but, rather, I welcome and embrace the term as a declaration of empowerment, pride, and hope for a better social structure in a better tomorrow.