Our good friend Giancarlo Sopo knows well the evils of socialism. As a Cuban American, he is part of a community who sought refuge in the United States when their vibrant and beautiful country was destroyed by socialism. Like countless other Cuban Americans, Giancarlo has heard the siren song of socialism played before and is well aware it always ends in slavery, misery, and death.
Giancarlo has a warning for his fellow Democrats who are enticed by the lies and deceit of socialism.
As a Democrat whose family escaped socialism, Ocasio-Cortez worries me
Democratic socialism is a lot like the system my family fled, except its proponents promise to be nicer when seizing your business.
Cuba’s socialist revolution was supposed to work for workers — like my grandparents who lived in Miami during Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. In January 1959, just two weeks after Fidel Castro seized power, they returned to the island to care for my grandmother’s ailing mother. For the next 20 years, they remained prisoners in their own country.
As Cuba’s political and economic situation worsened, my grandfather told a friend he wanted to return to the United States. Someone overheard the conversation and reported him to the authorities. For this, the Castro regime threw him in jail. He was later stripped of his job and salary as an accountant and assigned to feed zoo animals. In addition to the emotional distress it caused, this made my family’s financial circumstances even more precarious.
To understand my grandparents’ desperation to flee socialism, imagine leaving everything behind and starting anew at almost 60 years old.
I was born in Miami a little after my family was able to return to America — when President Jimmy Carter allowed travel restrictions to lapse. Growing up, a framed photo of my parents with President Ronald Reagan was a mainstay in the living room of our modest duplex. Yet, during the first election I was able to vote, I served as a precinct captain for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Four years later, I knocked on doors in New Hampshire for then-Sen. Barack Obama. In 2016, my wife and I drove 14 hours to volunteer for Hillary Clinton and this June, we marched in support of immigrant families.
The popularity of ‘democratic socialism’
Despite my working-class immigrant roots, I am concerned by the popularity of socialism within my party. On the night of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in New York, I thought her use of the term was a misnomer. Then I began studying the views of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the rapidly growing national organization she belongs to, and was disturbed by what I learned.
Like those of yesteryear, today’s socialists believe the government should nationalize major industries, propose eliminating private ownership of companies, and reject profits. In other words, democratic socialism is a lot like the system my family fled, except its proponents promise to be nicer when seizing your business.
When I confronted some progressive friends about this, they initially dismissed my concerns. After sharing some articles with them, the conversation shifted to “they just want us to be more like the Nordic countries” and “they’re not like real socialists!” Both are reductionist, self-delusions to avoid confronting difficult truths.
The latter is a particularly absurd fallacy because it requires one to believe that adults who willfully join socialist organizations, sound like socialists and call themselves socialists are not what they claim to be.
Claims of “Nordic socialism” are also largely exaggerated. As Jostein Skaar, of Oslo Economics, told me, “I would stress that the Norwegian economic system is capitalistic, heavily influenced by the U.S. and U.K.”
This is probably why DSA argues that the Nordic model is not good enough.
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