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With all the corporate-media-induced controversy about “democratic socialism,” here's some truth-telling from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., excerpted from Jackson's latest column in the Chicago Sun-Times:

The important word in “democratic socialism” isn’t socialism, it’s democratic. Sanders isn’t talking about making America into Cuba or Venezuela; he’s talking about extending social guarantees like those offered in most other advanced industrial states, invoking Denmark or Sweden. These countries have universal health care at lower cost, paid family leave, guaranteed paid vacations, higher minimum wages, more generous public retirement programs. They also have vibrant and competitive economies, lower inequality, less poverty, and higher life expectancies.

Sanders is seeking a popular mandate from voters to move in this direction.

When you think of democratic socialism, remember the programs that Republicans and conservatives and the corporate lobbies denounced as socialistic when they were first considered: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental and consumer protection, banking regulation to protect consumers. . . .

When I ran for the presidency, I didn’t use the label, although some tried to slur me as a socialist or a communist, but I don’t think the label makes any difference. The question is one of direction, not name-calling; of program, not posturing.

And on this, Dr. Martin Luther King — often smeared as a “red” or a communist — was very clear. In 1966, he confided to his staff:

“You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of the slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”


Read Jackson's full column in the Chicago Sun-Times.

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-- The RootsAction.org Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.


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