This column appeared in the Idaho Falls Post Register newspaper on Sunday. The following views do not reflect the views of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
By Karin Lund, high school graduate from eastern Idaho
Ever since Barack Obama took office, some conservatives enjoy snarling phrases like, "The liberals are ruining this country with their socialism!" Surprisingly, as a liberal, this doesn't offend me because I'm pretty sure the people wielding this verbal sword have little sense of what socialism really is.
To these people, socialism is communism's child who will grow up to continue the family business. It's a system where people earn the same wage and have only what the government gives them.
I believe socialism is about helping people in a way that maximizes individual freedoms.
As I researched socialism, I found that it actually promotes democracy. Because there are not as many gaps within the social classes, people have more opportunities and more influence in the government. In a capitalist system, the wealthy constantly have the upper hand; they can afford better educations and thus land higher-paying careers. Plus, the wealthy have more influence in the government because their money gives them political leverage. With capitalism, everyone is motivated by money.
In a socialist system, people are encouraged and able to pursue their own talents and desires. Instead of the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer, the whole society flourishes. In a way, this system is more ethical than capitalism because workers aren't in it for the money; they are in it for the contribution to society. With socialism, compassion rules a community -- not greed.
If we stayed true to our democratic values, we would embrace the socialism I described. As Americans and therefore lowercase "d" democrats, we should want our society to progress to its highest potential. I am not saying that we should abandon capitalism for socialism tomorrow, but I am saying that socialism is not the travesty conservatives are making it out to be.
If President Obama says to me, "Karin, the government is going to pay for your health care and your education," I am going to say, "Thank you." I believe a government that provides for its people without oppressing them is a good thing.
Conservatives can continue attacking liberals by talking about the horrors of socialism, but they have to realize that we are not distressed by their misinformed rhetoric. A few socialist elements within the United States government will not bring communism to our country; it will provide for people who, with a little help, will greatly contribute to society.
Lund is a Hillcrest High School graduate who attends Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.