Opinion: What Is Social Democracy?

By Kansas City, Kansas SDUSA

There are already a lot of policies in America that would be considered “social democratic” ones. Are you reliant on Social Security, did you go to a public school, or do you have Medicare? Those are all policies supported in a social democracy.

What is social democracy, then? A security net through which our people simply cannot fall. It helps those who are less fortunate and allows them basic human rights. Human rights like housing, healthcare, food, clean water, and education. The basics that everyone deserves so they can better themselves — or, as the U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims, fully avail themselves of their right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

What’s the issue, then? The issue arises when the working class carries this burden alone. The problem persists when the rich don’t pay their fair share. The situation amplifies when we have an oligarchical government.

The cost-benefit ratio of the rich paying their taxes is uncomplicated, with everybody winning. The government gets more money, while the working class has less of a burden and the rich remain rich. It’s the rich who benefit the most from social democracy, with roads to transport their goods for sale, police to uphold their property rights, and more capable skilled workers. 

Regarding police upholding property rights: a well-funded social democratic government will certainly support a well-trained and empathetic police force. Beyond that, such a government will support a legitimate path to abundance for all. The masses will no longer pose a threat to the prosperous, being prosperous themselves — with full access to nutritious food, safe, comfortable and affordable housing, universal healthcare including mental healthcare, free quality public education including college and trade school, and gainful employment in union jobs. A rising tide raises all boats!

Opinion: The Left in our backyard

By Allen Coleman

In the last several months the Left in America has been so focused on the ‘Israel-Hamas War’ that we’ve forgotten about the true fight, which is right in our backyard. The tensions in the Middle East have always been high throughout history. It seems like every couple of years there’s a conflict there and what does it do? Absolutely nothing but divide us and sway our attention. We need to stand for values that we can agree on. Values that better the world and help our neighbors. That way, we can fix the problems right here in our backyard.,

When has the Left last successfully passed any policies? We may have had minor successes on issues like abortion, LGBTQ, and green policies but they’ve been overturned, while the country becomes alarmingly conservative. Some say “America can chew gum and walk simultaneously”, but it can’t. We the people need to come together; especially in a time of war and redirect our focus to domestic economic issues.

The working class remains in shackles by big corporations while we are quick to call out foreign governments, but not our own. People continue to die in our backyard due to lack of food/water and homelessness. We need to stand together against big corporations and our oligarchy government, now more than ever.

We are working for slave wages; while inflation increases, and the rich get richer. We’re getting smothered by more and more debt that we carry alone. The working class contributes to the government with our taxes and to the corporations through our work. When are they going to contribute to us? Our shackles remain on and we see the key, yet we bicker on how to grab it.

Allen Coleman is a member of Kansas City, Kansas SDUSA.

How the New York State DOT is failing East Buffalo

Frederick Law Olmsted’s Humboldt Parkway in 1935, now the 33 Kensington Expressway

By Michael Mottern

On Saturday January 6th 2024, longtime social activist sister Betty Jean Grant, leader of Buffalo’s East Side community group “We are Women Warriors”, is leading a chant with her daughter at the head of a march protesting the 33 Expressway, yelling “This is what Democracy looks like!!” Behind her is their sound system, rolling on a grocery carriage with a flimsy wheel, and sister Grant gives the instructions to her daughter, telling her and the crowd to chant; “Grow East Side Grow!” and “No toxic tunnel!”

The rally comes on the heels of a decision made by New York State Senator Tim Kennedy of Buffalo, and with the help of Governor Kathy Hochul, to implement a project to restore the wrongs of an over 60-year-old project that destroyed an East side neighborhood, and divided a community racially.

As a Social Democrat and a lover of urban aesthetics and nostalgia, I enjoy a vibrant Main Street, with streetcars and park systems throughout the city. When I was a student at ECC, Erie Community College, and ‘nobody was active’ as Cornel West would say in the 1980s, it was the clergy, the pastors in particular, from the East side that used to chant at every rally, “bury the 33 Expressway!” So, that the State government of New York, with the help of the local people & DOT can line the area with trees once again!!

The 33 Expressway has long been protected by the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT). That is what I heard as a young community college, social science student. The ability to correct a wrong in the community especially the east side of Buffalo, that is a predominantly black neighborhood in Western New York. We forget how expressways really ruined a lot of communities!! The night before the March took place, I saw Betty’s post on my Facebook news feed so I phoned her immediately! One of the good things about progressive and socialist leaders especially ones that are running for president, is that you can always reach out to a woman like Betty on the telephone, to do what former Georgia congressman and Atlanta representative, John Lewis said when he emphasized the need for community work, or as he would put it “good trouble!!”

I informed sister Betty that I would be carrying my organizations “International flag,” the plain red flag with an embroidered “Rose” surrounded by a black circle and a white base.  Unfortunately living in Tonawanda, and not Buffalo I Ubered it to the place she instructed me to wait in front of the rally point, which was ironically called, Mandela market and gas station. Good name considering the ANC is our sister organization in the Socialist International and my flag was crimson red!

As we are marching down East Ferry Street across town to the expressway, cars and people on their porches were honking the horns and cheering us in solidarity. After all, we were marching through a residential neighborhood. As we arrived, we heard speeches from some of the communities leading environmental activists and transit extension activists. They formed a coalition of marchers, consisting of environmental and multiracial park enthusiasts, transit activists, suburban folks, local folks, and social activists, all merging on the 33 Expressway, letting the cars know we were there. In the long run, I believe that expressways are a thing of the past that cannot escape the racist motivations behind their origins.

Overall, the March was a huge success. The local media from news channels 2, 4, and 7 were all there. Spectrum News was there as well, and so was WBFO our PBS station; NPR radio in Buffalo was there as well. I was happy with the outcome and hope our chapter can work with this coalition more in the future!

Michael Mottern is the first vice chair of SDUSA.

Opinion: Is Anti-Zionism Anti-Semitic? NO

Every human has a right to a safe refuge — to a homeland.

By Susan Stevens

Even though I disagree with some of what Aaron says, I respect his views as a young man descended from Holocaust survivors — someone uniquely aware of the need for a Jewish homeland. I, too, support the Jews’ right to their homeland, just as I support the Palestinians’ right to their homeland (and, by the way, there are Jewish Palestinians who’ve been there for millennia, as well as Muslim and Christian Palestinians).

Where I differ from Aaron, is that I don’t see a Jewish homeland as the same thing as a Jewish state. Aaron compares the Jewish state to the American state. The difference I see here is that the American state is — or I should say that we progressives are pushing for her to be — a state not just for white Christians but for all her citizens. She’s certainly the homeland of many white Christians, and some white Christians do indeed push for her to be defined as a Christian nation; also some whites are pushing for white supremacy here — but we progressives are pushing even harder for America to live true to her motto e pluribus unum — out of many, one.

Some may say that I’m anti-white or anti-Christian for not wanting my country defined as a white, Christian state. But really, I am pro-people. I am pro-equality and pro-democracy. I want everyone to feel at home here, and I want everyone to have a voice. That’s what I want for Palestine/Israel, and for both Jew and Palestinian as well. While not anti-Zionist, I understand that the core belief of both Palestinian and Jewish anti-Zionists stems from that same principle.

Susan Stevens is the Chair of Kansas City, Kansas SDUSA.

Opinion: Is Anti-Zionism Anti-Semitic? YES

By Aaron Coleman

Zionism (or better referred to as Jewish national self-determination) originated as a 19th century national movement seeking to restore a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel. The “other side”, anti-Zionism, in recent years has attempted to hijack the word away from its historical origins and instead use it as a catch-all for anything bad Israel does.

Anti-Zionism is opposition to Jews having a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland, and denies the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination. The idea that the Jewish people, alone of all the people in the world, should be denied the right to self-determination and the denial of Jewish peoples historical and religious connection to Israel is incredibly bigoted.

Calling for a Palestinian nation-state while simultaneously advocating for an end to the Jewish state is hypocritical at best, and at worst anti-Semitic. Example: You can criticize the American government without being anti-American. Just like you can criticize the government of Israel without resorting to anti-Semitism. But as soon as you call for the destruction of the American state, then you become anti-American. Criticism of Israel similar to what other countries face are legitimate. When anti-Zionists call for the end of the Jewish state, however, that is no longer criticism of policy, but rather anti-Semitism.

One question I’d ask anyone who is anti-Zionist is “What is your plan to protect Jews?” They seem to misunderstand why Israel exists. It exists because Israel was a necessity due to the world’s actions. When Jews feel unsafe due to anti-Semitism, they make Aliyah to Israel. I guarantee that this recent wave of anti-Semitism, violence and vandalism is going to create a lot of American new olim.

Former State legislator Aaron Coleman represented Kansas HD 37 in 2021 – 2023.