Democratic Socialism: But what about Venezuela?

Stalin, I tell you, Stalin!


Democratic socialism is gaining wider and wider acceptance in the USA.

Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Andrew Gillum in Florida all are jumping on the bandwagon and winning elections.

That a black guy did it — in Florida, for crying out loud — means that smarter Democrats are going to see which way the wind is blowing.

Republican policies are wildly unpopular.

They are forced to run exclusively on racism and fear — fear of brown people, fear of the poor and now, for good measure fear of Venezuela. That and raw tribalism will allow them to keep most of the South and a lot of the West.

Right wing media will continue to pump out poison to make sure they stay loyal after universal health care and tuition-free college.

Right wingers will be told that Stalin and gulags have already happened even when they haven’t. Remember FEMA campus? No lie will be too big or too transparent.

A fire hose of transparent and obvious lies works very well. It works in actual dictatorships — it’s a Putin favorite — and it will work here too, even with a free press.

But about 60% of the country can’t stand to listen to right-wing media. It’ too casually sexist and racist. It requires you to swallow lies uncritically. And worst of all it asks you to listen only to them and no one else.

That’s unacceptable.

Right wing media also works hard to turn us into a nation of cowards, afraid of everything.

Americans must resist becoming cowards.

But Venezuela!

Hugo Chavez was no angel but he lifted his country out of poverty and brought it into the modern world — universal health care, universal education, the poverty rate was cut in half. He paid for it with oil money — mostly.

Chavez made four big mistakes.

First he didn’t diversify the economy, pretending the price of oil would never go down.

Second, he borrowed a lot of money

Third, he died.

Fourth, he hand picked Nicolás Maduro to succeed him.

Maduro was a very bad choice. Maduro fired the Supreme Court — something impossible in this country — and installed cronies as judges. Then he moved to replace the entire constitution and the legislature.

Then the price of oil dropped. Maduro had carefully constructed a kleptocratic dictatorship that continued to bleed the country dry.

Socialism without the democracy.

Venezuela was robbed of its democracy.

Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and the UK are all strong, vibrant democracies. I’m sure they have some corrupt officials, but there is a justice system to capture and punish them. None have gulags. All have a free press. All have free and fair elections.

The reason that the Netherlands can have socialism without gulags is democracy.

Maduro does not have to face honest elections. He has nothing to fear, no accountability. No free press to criticize him. No checks, no balances.

And the truth is, Venezuela doesn’t really have socialism either. The poverty rate has soared unchecked. Everything is breaking apart while Maduro and all the other vultures feed.

Trump and Co. are vultures.

They will feed as much as they can — stealing as much as they can. But we have a free press. We have checks and balances.

In 2020 Trump & Co. will have to face a free and fair election. The Republicans have worked hard to gerrymander, suppress voter turnout, and feed their base on fear to stay in power. It worked last time. It may be enough the next time. Trump may get another four years to improve his bank balance at our expense. Or he may not.

But, eventually, he will be gone. I know people are afraid he won’t leave, but he will. I would enjoy watching him be dragged out by the Secret Service, but Trump is, above all, a coward. He will leave quietly.

If Americans get universal health care we will still have elections every four years. If Democrats get into power and pass legislation to make college free, the president will not have the power to fire the Supreme Court justices. If we have a universal basic income, President Warren still won’t be able to remove the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Those things are just not going to happen.

What made the Soviet Union a nightmare was dictatorship. Democracy is the key to all free societies, no matter how their economies are constructed.

What makes Sweden and Denmark great places to live is democracy. If Sweden or the US ever accidentally elect a Maduro — or even a Putin wanna-be — we will have to the power to vote the bastard out.

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