Being a Democratic Socialist in a red county

By Dylan Vanderpool - Guest columnist

I am a freshman student currently attending Edison Community College. People would call me a typical midwestern kid, who enjoys watching my favorite sports teams and hanging out with my friends. However, there is one thing that separates me from a typical midwestern college freshmen living in Shelby County-my political views.

I would describe myself as a Democratic Socialist. I believe in a libertarian hands off government that allows people to enjoy individual freedoms. As a Democratic Socialist, I believe in the 2nd amendment, the right to bear arms. I also agree with legalizing marijuana on a federal level; and finally, the most “radical” idea that I believe in is legalizing and regulating all drugs. People look at this idea as completely radical, but I would argue that the war on drugs is radical.

What is radical is the fact that the US has 4.25 percent of the world’s population, yet it holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. According to Business Insider, in 2002 Portugal had a Heroin epidemic and in 2001 they decriminalized all drugs. Now they have the second lowest drug related deaths in the European Union.

Legalizing drugs would also effectively put the cartel and street gangs in Chicago, New York, LA, and every big city out of business. When it comes to Economics, I believe in a heavily regulated economy, support of unions, and worker’s rights.

As a Democratic Socialist, I believe in policies like Medicare for all, free college, raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, and getting our country out of endless wars. According to a recent Yale Study, Medicare for all would save 60,000 lives and save 450 billion dollars a year. The US is the wealthiest nation in human history, yet 60,000 people die a year due to its for-profit health insurance system, compared to Canada where that number is zero.

The belief I have in college for all is not a radical idea. We already have free K-12 school, yet in order to pursue a higher degree in this country you will have to be put in thousands of dollars in debt. When talking discussing the minimum wage in this country, I believe that it should be at least 15 dollars an hour.

According to Brookings college the underemployment rate in this country is 7.2 percent. We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, but yet we still have 7.2 percent of the working population defined as underemployed.

The main argument I hear from conservatives, “How are you going to pay for it?” My answer to this question is simply cut the overly bloated military budget. In this country we spend 10 times more than the next 10 countries military budgets combined. If we cut that military budget in half we would still easily have the most powerful military in the world. When we increase the military budget like we do every year no one blinks an eye.

When you suggest that we do government programs to help working class and poor people call you an extreme socialist or even a communist. Another thing that our country can improve on heavily is our crumbling infrastructure. According to the infrastructure report card the United States gets a grade of D+. There is no logical reasoning why we are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world with an infrastructure grade of D+.

My personal experience with local politics is very small. I did attend a Shelby County Democrats meeting. Even though I do not identify myself as a Democrat, I wanted to see what this group was all about. I sat through the first 30 minutes of the people talking about what typical clubs talk about that had nothing to do with being a Democrat.

Then we went around the room and explained who and why we would be voting for in the upcoming primary; not surprisingly, I was the only Sanders’ supporter with the rest of the older people picking one of the Neo-Liberal Centrist candidates. I explained to them why I was a Sanders’ supporter, because of the specific policies he had been fighting for his whole life. Sadly, I convinced no one and was not asked back to the group.

The most striking thing about the group was how conservative these people really were with the head of the group saying, “There is no real difference between us and Republicans.” That statement is actually very true when it comes to national politics because of the constant flood of corporate and Wall Street dollars going through both parties. I think it is very important to get money out of politics other than grass roots funding so that the politician must answer to the voters not to the big money interests.

The issues that I agree the most with conservatives that I liv around are, money in politics, the extreme corruption of the Democratic party, and 2nd amendment rights. People on both sides of the political spectrum can easily see the problem of money in politics. When I see or hear conservatives criticize establishment Democrats for reasonable things like the corruption of Joe Biden or Hilary Clinton, we see eye to eye on issues like that.

With that being said I think it is also important to point out the corruption of the Republican party and Donald Trump, the corruption issue goes both ways. On the issue of the 2nd amendment I agree that people have that right and should be to able own a firearm. Most conservatives even agree that there should be increased background checks to be able to own a firearm.

I have a podcast that I do every Friday under my channel Tankvanderpool on Youtube where I talk about a variety of different issues and actually get a lot of conservative viewers that respect my opinion. I think it is important to respect other people’s opinions but facts must be able to back up your arguments.

By Dylan Vanderpool

Guest columnist

The writer is a resident of Sidney and a student at Edison State Community College. He is enrolled in a Comp 2 class where he had an assignment to write na option/editorial.

The writer is a resident of Sidney and a student at Edison State Community College. He is enrolled in a Comp 2 class where he had an assignment to write na option/editorial.