Although I didn’t support Bernie Sanders this time around—I did in 2016—I am none the less a democratic socialist. Who knows but I might actually join the party of that name and become a literal capitalist, that is, capitalize the D and S. Here’s why.
First, I have happily lived in two European countries where democratic-socialist policies prevail: Germany and Denmark. In late winter, 2007, in Copenhagen, the Danish capital, I had a hypertensive episode. My Danish house mate took me to the metropolitan hospital. They treated me as I had been treated several times before in American emergency rooms. When my blood pressure had returned to the normal range and I was being checked out, I produced my Mastercard. “Put that back, Mr. Feldman,” the clerk said in perfect English. “But I’m here in Denmark on a visitor’s visa,” I countered. “No matter,” she replied. “You are a guest of the Queen of Denmark. Everyone treated at this hospital is.” On a tight budget as it was, I guess my blood pressure must have dropped another ten points from that news. Three cheers for democratic socialism in action!
Second, as a Christian—I’m an active member of an Episcopal church here in Boulder—I’m sure, based on his teaching and personal example, that Jesus himself was a socialist. This idea is bolstered by what I read in the fourth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. “The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had... There was no one in the group who was in need. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale, and turn it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed according to the needs of the people” (Acts 4:32, 34-35; Good News Bible). At Trinity Lutheran Church, Evanston, Illinois, some years ago, the senior pastor who was leading our men’s Bible study of Acts was an avowed conservative Republican. When we encountered this particular passage, I asked him how he, given his political position, understood it. He turned red, then offered something to effect that that was then; this is now. Yet in Deuteronomy 15:11 we read, “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I [God] therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’” In our rich land, there should never be anyone in need. Ever! Now, as Jean-Luc would say in Star Trek, let’s work together to make it so.