Setting Out to Be a Stranger in a Strange Land
A Chicagoan at heart, a series of events, including falling for a local boy, led me to spending time "Iowa-adjacent," in Moline, Illinois. Moline is on the Mississippi River and part of the Quad Cities region. When I first started coming here in 2015, and when asked, "What's it like?" by friends in Chicago, I highlighted three points that stood out the most.
First, five cities make up the Quad Cities, well at least five, some might even say eight or nine. Apparently, they started as the "Tri-Cities," changed to Quad as the region grew, but "quint" never stuck. Second, split by the Mississippi River, residents move between Illinois and Iowa - sometimes many times a day - crossing the largest river in North America like it's no big deal. Being from Chicago, crossing the Mississippi meant a great adventure ahead, not, "We ran out of peanut better, so I am going to the Super Target." As a result, the little girl in me avoided Iowa to keep a sense of adventure alive. Finally, fall 2015 marked the beginning of primary season for the Iowa caucuses and although I was in Illinois, it's an Iowa media market. This proved to be incredibly painful because I don't travel with my Tivo and for the first time since 2004, I had to watch commercials - and political commercials at that! I started avoiding TV like I avoided Iowa.
The "democratic socialist" label is like nails on a chalkboard to me, no matter if it's Bernie proclaiming it proudly or FOX news dropping it with disdain. Democratic Socialists support policy reform in areas I care deeply about, such as healthcare, affordable housing and childcare, and campaign finance. They believe that democracy should work equally, for everyone. So why do I have such a visceral reaction to the label?
I have spent more time than I care to admit trying to figure out why "democratic socialist" bothers me so much. I have questioned whether the time I spent post-communist Eastern Europe has made me overly sensitive. I looked up the word" socialist" because it has been a long time since college poly sci and wanted to confirm it still means the collective ownership of the means of production (it does). I tried to understand how Bernie and AOC describe democratic socialism but direct quotes, in context, are hard to find. The secondary sources I found, are a bit biased, both to the left and to the right. That said, I found one direct quote by AOC that stuck in my head.
But when we talk about ideas like democratic socialism, it means putting democracy and society first, instead of capital first; it doesn't mean that the actual concept of capitalistic society should be abolished [emphasis added].
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