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The Socialist Situation

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The Socialist Situation

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As the country counts down to the 2016 presidential election Americans seem to be more and more divided on many controversial topics. Months of TV debates have included subjects like guns, planned parenthood, and immigrants, but one topic may be rising into question, socialism. The country’s prime proponent for this concept is 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Bernie is a well known champion of socialist ideals and if elected, would incorporate these values into the American system.
During the CNN Democratic debate, Sanders stated, “What democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent — almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent”. The discussion of the wealth control by the top one percent gained major coverage during the “Occupy Wallstreet Protest” in 2011. In 2007, the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%.The top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%. During the recession the wealth of the top one percent grew from from 34.6% to 37.1%. According to the Swiss Bank “Credit Suisse” a new report shows that the top 1 % own 50% of the world’s wealth. Is a democratized version of socialism the solution to this ever widening wealth gap?
There are many socialist programs incorporated into American society today. Social security, welfare, and subsidized housing are all based on socialist ideals. Social Studies teacher Mr. Nelson stated “There are many aspects of our economy today that are socialistic and some of them are beneficial for some aspects of our society others have seen some negative repercussions. Our society continues to struggle with how much private industry and public government involvement we should have. The next election is really going to play out an answer to that question or at least a continued discussion of that question into the future”.
But what actually is socialism? The rampant debates often forget to explain the meaning of socialism without bias. All opinions aside, the textbook definition of socialism is, “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods”. This is often expanded upon by numerous socialist ideals such as equal distribution, higher living standards and the rise of the proletariat. If these sound like relatively positive values why is there such a strong opposition to this topic? Warwick Valley High School junior Preston Grzegorzewski said, “ I am against socialism for the United States because we were founded as a capitalistic democracy so I don’t think having a socialist government at this point would be a smart idea.”
Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls. As of July 2015 Hillary Clinton polled at 62.7 percent while Bernie Sanders dwindled at 14% according to RealClearPolitics.Com. This was a slow start for the Sanders campaign and many did not view him as a strong candidate, but, according to a poll from January 2016 Sanders is now catching up to Hillary with 39.7% to her now 48.3%. It is safe to say that it’s time to take Bernie Sanders serious as a 2016 presidential candidate.
Warwick Valley High School junior Noah Kriegel commented on this issue, “In basic terms, socialism is when the economic prosperity of businesses in a certain community is distributed among the population of the members of the community and regulated by the government, and certain amounts that these businesses generate can be used by the government.” He was asked about how the country should respond to Bernie Sanders advocating for socialism, he continued by stating, “As far as Bernie Sanders goes, many people hear him describe himself as a democratic socialist and immediately think ‘I’m out’ because instead of linking socialism to actual programs that still exist in our government today, such as Medicare and Social Security, their minds immediately go to communism and from there, tend to think of the extreme communist governments, like the USSR, North Korea, Vietnam, etc. The policies in these countries are not what Sanders is suggesting. He’s proposing a society where the wealth is spread more evenly instead of going to the already wealthy business owners like the one percent. I think that many Americans see Bernie Sanders’ ideas of democratic socialism as the complete removal of their private property, not the attempt to regulate the economy so the middle and lower classes can still survive”.
We have now entered the year of the 2016 Presidential election and we bring with us both new and old discussions of politics. Meredith Cottle stated, “Bernie Sanders could easily be considered a top candidate for President, seeing as he doesn’t have the questionable history Hillary has, if it weren’t for the stigma in our country against the topic of socialism”. Meredith continued by stating, “Bernie isn’t trying to convert America into a socialist nation, he just believes that some socialist policies could help improve the country’s functionality. And socialism is already implemented in several ways throughout our policies, but the public is so ignorant that they don’t understand what socialism really means and escalate it to the point of equating it to communism, which is false.”
Bernie Sanders is rising in numbers and popularity. The discussion of possible democratic socialism is no longer avoidable. As the 2016 election grows closer and closer it is becoming more clear that the country has major political and ideological disagreements.

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The Socialist Situation