There is no such thing as "democratic" socialism. There never has been.

"I'm a democratic socialist," Bernie Sanders tends to correct anyone who refers to him as just a socialist. The idea behind it is that 'democratic' socialists are different from authoritarian socialist and communist regimes and that democratic socialists are predominantly interested in a welfare state with lots of taxes to fund lots of public benefits.

Indeed, through his two campaigns for president, every chance he got, Bernie Sanders would talk about being elected through a "political revolution" that would entail voter turnout so massive that the country would be forced to radically change in the blink of an eye. Fantastical as that notion always was - and as much as in practical terms, the higher turnout a state saw, the more likely Bernie Sanders was to lose that state in the Democratic presidential primary - it at least had an aura of democratic legitimacy.

But the truth is that revolutionaries have never cared about democracy. Socialists care about the democratic process just about as much as Trump supporters do, and they are accustomed to making up the same kinds of baseless, deep-state conspiracy theories when their candidates lose. This reality has been cast in the bright light of day in their response to the ongoing, spontaneous protests in Cuba against its communist regime with the simple demands of democratic accountability, political and economic freedom, and COVID vaccines.

While mainstream Democrats - including and most importantly President Biden - have come down squarely on the side of universal political rights to peaceful assembly and protest, self-proclaimed socialists and revolutionaries have pointedly taken the side of brutal authoritarianism of the Cuban regime.

While Bernie Sanders, who is often eager to insert himself in all kinds of foreign policy debates, himself was shamed into releasing a late-night statement calling on the Cuban regime to respect people's democratic rights, the organization claiming to represent his philosophy - the Democratic Socialists of America -  has made clear their stand in favor of violent authoritarianism, and used the occasion to demand an end to the US trade embargo against Cuba. Sanders, too, linked his support for the political rights of the Cuban people with a demand to end the trade embargo. Somehow, the loudest proponents of police abolition in the United States have discovered that they are in love with the repressive tactics of the Cuban police against their own people. Some radicals are even claiming - with zero proof, of course - that some "outside power" (cough cough CIA) is responsible for the uprising because the people of Cuba cannot possibly be getting sick of living under jack-booted brownshirts. Anything for the revolution!

This is the tac that socialists across the spectrum have adopted. Instead of demanding that the Cuban regime subject itself to the wishes of the Cuban people, they are "standing with the revolution" and deflect the focus onto the trade embargo.

The merits of the trade embargo are certainly debatable, and I am not going to claim that anyone wanting to end the embargo is anti-democracy. It should, however, be noted that the current protests have nothing whatsoever to do with the embargo. They are about three things: the lack of political and economic freedoms in Cuba, the demand for democratic accountability for its government, and most importantly, the devastating lack of COVID vaccines.

Cuba's lack of vaccine supply is entirely on the "revolutionary" government of the country, as is the country's crisis of food and other essentials. There are no embargos against food or vaccines. The primary reason for the severity of the vaccine shortage in Cuba is that its government chose, voluntarily, not to take part in COVAX, the World Health Organization effort to poorer countries. It bet, instead, on a homegrown vaccine that was only recently approved on a three-dose-basis, but the Cuban government has refused to publish data about the vaccine or clinical trials, making it impossible to independently verify its efficacy or even authenticity.

None of this - the threat posed to the Cuban people because of its government's handling of vaccines, the police beatings of protesters, the depriving of the Cuban people of basic, fundamental rights of a free people - matters to "democratic" socialists in the United States. Because the word 'democratic' in 'democratic socialism is nothing more than a cover to make a highly violent, deeply repressive, and inherently authoritarian ideology sound more palatable.

Democrats must excise this cancer from our midst before it is too late.

Like what you read? Leave a Tip. 

💰 Fund the Fight

Like what you read? Leave a Tip. 

💰 Fund the Fight