As the conversation about what it means to be a democratic socialist took center stage after the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Joe Crowley in the New York primary, the misinformation and vilification that conservative news outlets spread when it comes to mixed economies became evident. During the presidential primaries in 2015, one of the biggest criticisms towards Sen. Bernie Sanders was his “communist platform,” as he admired the economic systems of Nordic countries. Although the United States does indeed share a similarly mixed economy with these European nations, there is the general belief that many hold that this country’s foundation is capitalism. The problem is that the conservative media continues to perpetuate that socialism only exists in the form of Cuba and its intention is to deprive people’s hard-earned money and give it away to someone less deserving. Socialism is presented as the evil villain who wants to rob half of your child’s happiness and reward someone else’s child.
However, economic systems are a bit more nuanced than this evil-vs-good scenario. Capitalism is surely good in terms of making the greatest profit as it thrives on the brutal idea of “survival of the fittest” when it comes to the marketplace. The issue is that not every individual in a country is endowed with this vicious mentality. This should not be perceived as a disadvantage. A country is meant to be built on community rather than wealth. Even though the United States is a very individualistic society, we are, as a country, a unified force that should work towards the overall happiness of the population rather than acquiring money at all costs. Furthermore, as corporations expand to a global scale, the need for more regulation policies has arisen.
The unruled capitalism that this country encourages might have been a good option decades ago, but competition is tougher now, and the economic risks we are forced to take are even greater. There needs to be safeguards for the middle-class, working-class and those in poverty. It is not surprising wages have become stagnant since the 1970s and the middle class continues to shrink as the government becomes lenient. Corporations are not investing in their employees because they only care about making a profit. The government is not adequately regulating them. As the world evolves, so does the economy. The United States is falling behind other countries such as Germany and Finland.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration is not concerned about any of this. The tax reform that will benefit beyond-wealthy corporations proves exactly how unconcerned they are when it comes the pockets of those making less than six figures. Even worse than that, the President and his children are taking advantage of the power that comes from the presidency to increase the profit of their own corporations. Rather than serving the American public, the Trump organization is veering towards the extremes of ruthless capitalism by exploiting resources and international contacts to grow its wealth. Sadly, it is exactly what Trump voters were asking for — a callous businessman who intends to make money at the expense of other people, even working-class Americans.
There is no doubt that the US economy is struggling, which is why I agree a drastic change is necessary, but not in the form of the vicious capitalism Trump embodies. It is time for this country to switch gears. Compassion and empathy are not socialist ideals, they are human. Voting for politicians that advocate for senior care, healthcare, education and public housing are not commies carrying a secret agenda to abolish the free market and to take away your children’s candy. The American Dream is much more than just unchecked wealth. In order to create unity, it is vital to stop looking at one another as competition. Greed should neither drive our existence nor our country.