Socialism in Iowa City

IMG_6348

The roughly 4,000 students packed into the Iowa Field House swayed in unison and cheered as Jill Sobule sang the following lyrics to her Democratic Socialist Marching Song:

 

“Who is a Democratic socialist?

If you don’t know I would say its most of us.

There is nothing to fear. Just look in the mirror. You are a socialist too!”

 

The song, included in full below, was a celebration of democratic socialism, its legacy in the United States in programs like Medicare and Social Security, and a veiled attempt to quell concerns of young voters who may like Bernie Sanders but fear the stigma of socialism. In the third verse, Jill Sobule sang:

 

“Who is not a Democratic socialist?

Chairman Mao was not a democratic socialist.

You won’t be ordered to sing that international song

Or wear black pajamas like the Viet Cong.”

 

Among attendees, democratic socialism was whole-heartedly embraced. When a group of supporters from Fairfield were asked why they support Sanders, a young man responded, “Well I am a full on socialist.” A 26-year-old woman across from him responded, “I am on board with socialism as well” and their friend nodded her head and shrugged, “I like socialism.” Another group of four students from the University of Iowa included two self-identified Democratic Socialists who were fully behind Bernie Sanders.

 

Everyone interviewed was asked for a specific issue that drew him or her to Sen. Sanders. Global warming, the minimum wage, and social issues were noted, yet most respondents cited his general appeal, the way he “embodies America” and is “of the people and for the people.” One young woman, a student at Iowa State, described her belief in the social programs that helped her single-mother get by. The emotional appeal of Bernie Sanders was immediately obvious.

IMG_6355

 

One supporter named Noah, from Des Moines, rocked a shirt dotted with the face of Bernie Sanders and explained why he was a socialist. “Do you like police? Do you like firefighters? You’re a democratic socialist.” His response sounded oddly like the lyrics of Jill Sobule’s Democratic Socialist Marching Song.

 

No other rally had demonstrated such strong and enthusiastic support for a candidate. Compared to the soft applause offered to Hillary Clinton earlier in the day, the cheers and chants for Bernie Sanders were inspiring. The event left little doubt that Sanders has incredibly strong and motivated supporters among a demographic that is traditionally apolitical.

 

His appeal seems not to be based in a true understanding of democratic socialism and certainly not in the policy implications of it, at least among the voters in the Iowa Field House. His appeal comes from the rebellious propensities of American youth, the frustration of those who feel left behind, and a warm embrace of American diversity and multiculturalism. The question is, will Sanders supporters actually show up at 6:30pm on Monday night as the comedians, artists, and volunteers at the rally begged them to do, over and over?

Democratic Socialist Marching Song – Jill Sobule

Who is Democratic socialist?

If you don’t know I would say its most of us.

There is nothing to fear. Just look in the mirror.

You are a socialist too.

 

Are you for social security? Certainly!

Are you for Medicare? But its there!

Bridges and streets, and the good cops on the beat.

And don’t forget the National Parks!

 

Who is not a Democratic socialist?

Chairman Mao was not a democratic socialist.

You won’t be ordered to sing that international song

Or wear black pajamas like the Viet Cong.

 

If you really think about its not radical

You can still be kinda rich and be compatible.

There is plenty to share, just throw in your share.

And don’t think you think everyone deserves health care?

 

Who is a democratic socialist?

Your granddad is a democratic socialist!

The GI Bill, the WPA,

These are the things that made America great.

You don’t have to raise an angry clenched fist.

Although you might find it close and fierce if you did.

 

You care about your fellow man,

I know that you do!

You are a socialist, a democratic socialist.

You are a socialist too!




There are no comments

Add yours