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Democratic socialism now

| Tuesday, October 13, 2020

It was during Bernie Sanders’ initial run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 that I became better acquainted with the term democratic socialist, and was intrigued by the idea of a socialist government. Bernie’s platform was especially appealing to an individual like me, a middle to lower class college student, in debt with no healthcare. However, I never took action over this newfound interest, and it was not until he ran again in 2020 that I better allocated myself with democratic socialism, and how it would look applied and established in U.S politics today.

I think what kept me from delving into the ideology, or even simply learning more, was the unconscious negative connotation I had of socialism. In my mind, socialism seems like something radical that could possibly take from U.S. freedoms and, at times, seemed to me to be too similar to the idea of communism.

It was during the spring semester of my freshman year that I decided I would learn more about democratic socialism and learn about the ways it works. That semester, I decided to attend a YDSA meeting over at Notre Dame. There was no particular reason behind attending a meeting — I was just interested in learning more. And the idea of being in an environment where others’ political views would be somewhat aligned to mine, as well as the opportunity for a civil, engaged and mutually respectful conversation over policy, was very appealing.

It was still a surprise that what was most compelling to me about this meeting — what I thought inherently was not going to happen — was exactly what I was met with. It was a different environment to what I am used to at Saint Mary’s, and knowing others were wanting to gather and take action towards change from the tri-campus community created a sense of solidarity that had a huge impact on me.

If you would have asked me a year ago what political party I aligned with, without a second of doubt I would’ve answered “Democrat,” and that would’ve concluded the answer. But thinking about it now, if someone would have gone a step further and asked me why, I wouldn’t have an elaborate, thought-out answer, and rather a general sentiment of “Republican bad, Democratic good,” on the basis that conservative foundations of the Republican Party are oppressive and go against my political agenda.

Today, if someone were to ask me how I align politically, I like to believe I would take a couple of seconds to ponder, then answer confidently: “Democratic socialist.” Not only that, but if asked why, I would assert that the government should meet the needs of the people it governs: basic human rights such as healthcare, free higher education and government aid during times of need.

Hard-working individuals and their families, no matter their socioeconomic status, are rightfully entitled to healthcare. Future leaders and young adults who wish to further their education should be able to do so without drowning in debt, and the government should be able to provide basic human necessities like housing and nutrition in the face of economic instability.

It is now, with this newfound point of view and knowledge, that I urge for democratic socialism, more than ever. I look forward to a future — a tangible future — in which ecosystems and communities don’t burn in flames, clean water is accessible to all and there are still agricultural yields. A future in which we encourage future leaders and participating citizens not only through words, but through actions, such as free higher education. A future in which everyone who needs medical attention, no matter how small, has accessibility to care at little to no cost.

I await the day I can attend another NDYDSA meeting, as the school fails to acknowledge the group as an official club; but that is no problem, for they cannot silence our independent actions and words until the day we can gather, advocate and continue to create change. Until then I urge you to engage in civic participation and vote, not just party-line voting, but educating yourself on the candidates and their platforms to have the biggest impact through your vote.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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