In the last two years the members of the Young Democratic Socialists at BGSU Firelands have sought to educate, empower and educate with public forums, and programs on another point of view at the college and the area. Socialism is the idea there are some things that the government should do for the people.
Of course in this country and in this region, socialism gets a bad rap, for it is mixed up with sentiments of the Cold War. People see images of bomb waving black coated thugs, soviet tank divisions and the KGB taking away freedoms and establishing a dictatorship, when the word "socialist" is mentioned. But in reality, American Socialism is not like those images at all, for millions enjoy receiving a pension benefit, Social Security, Social Security disability, or medical coverage under Medicare or Medicaid; because these ideas were part of "American Socialist" thought in the early 20th century, long before FDR and LBJ made them a reality.
American Socialism is truly an ideology with a conscience, with morality and commonality with those values found in the life philosophies that 95 percent of Americans believe in to make sense out of a world gone crazy. American Socialism does not condone the use of military force to assert an imperial presence in the world, for we are not an empire, but a country founded on the idea of respecting our neighbors on the planet.
American socialism holds sacred the idea that human labor takes precedence over capital, and in fact it is human labor that creates capital. American Socialism holds sacred the idea that a wrong committed to the least of us, is a wrong committed to all of us and must be put right. American Socialism holds sacred the ideas that access to healthcare is not a commodity for sale but a human right for all people, and that access to education by all of our people is a guarantee for our present and future personal freedom in this country.
The late Kurt Vonnegut, in his last book, "A Man Without A Country," published in 2005, wrote:
"Powers Hapgood.. . a middle class person who thought there should be more economic justice...... We met in Indianapolis after the end of the Second World War.... There had been some sort of dust-up on a picket line, and he was testifying about it....the judge stops everything and asks..."Mr. Hapgood, here you are, you're a graduate of Harvard. Why would anyone with your advantages choose to live as you have?" Hapgood answered the judge: "why, because of the Sermon on the Mount, sir."
We have seen what the impact of unchecked capitialism has had on our country since 1981 to the present. Scandals, corruption, uncontrolled greed by the few, the decline of the middle class, the explosion of the numbers of the working poor, the loss of our nation's moral integrity in the eyes of the world and the death of tens of thousands for the benefit of the top 1 percent.
Powers Hapgood was correct, for our course of action is outlined in the message of the Sermon on the Mount, and we have to act on that message to continue the revolution started in 1776.
Patrick Saunders teaches American Culture studies at BGSU Firelands and is the former chairman of the Huron County Democratic Party.