The outrageous claim that “socialists can be shot” is a result of current American discourse.
The last Friday of January saw a Montana state legislator wreaking havoc with a statement he made during a gathering of state Republican Party members. State Rep. Rodney Garcia raised concerns about socialists “entering our government” and voiced opinions about his hometown Billings being full of them. He refused to back down from his rather outrageous claim, going as far to double down on it later that weekend in an interview with a reporter.
He then stepped up to say that the United States Constitution itself gives citizens the right to shoot socialists or detain and put them in jail. His response was to label them enemies of the free state and proceed to change the subject. When asked to clarify in a later interview he did as most politicians do and put out his opinion with little to no backing or evidence, and according to the the Billings Gazette, he was unable to point out where in the Constitution it says socialists could be treated in such ways.
Naturally, his own party distanced themselves from his comments and condemned them. Luckily for all of the socialists in Montana, the Constitution doesn’t support his idea, nor does it give the rights he claimed it does. Personally, the idea of a politician who doesn’t know the Constitution to the point that he thinks it’s OK to shoot someone for their political philosophy scares me more than a socialist.
One of the nicer parts about living in America is the right to freedom of speech and the freedom to believe in whichever political ideology one chooses. That said, socialism is definitely coming to the forefront in today’s society with big figures like Bernie Sanders branding himself as a democratic socialist. Yet, as always, America’s scrutiny lies on the surface: a better investigation may not be how many socialists there are in America and how to get rid of them but rather why the ideology has gained so much traction.
Generation Z is one group often associated with socialism and its ideals, and instead of lamenting the “misguided youth,” it would be better to figure out why faith in the capitalist system has been lost. With the consistently rising prices of everything from food and housing to college and the alarmingly slow adjustment of minimum wages, it becomes crystal clear as to why so many young people are taking up the ideals of socialism.
The extreme concentration of wealth in today’s world leaves many feeling helpless, distraught and forgotten, which is exactly when socialism and other similar concepts have managed to seem attractive to many in the past. No political and economic system is without flaws, and naturally that applies to capitalism, but when the ones controlling the system are the ones making the policies, you end up with a system that never changes to accommodate the less fortunate.
A little human empathy goes a long way, and the misguided idea that socialists can be shot seems like a hard backstep from empathy. It has become quite clear that America desperately needs to break the cycle of back and forth extremism dominating today’s political climate. Otherwise we might just end up with a bunch of teenagers dying in the streets, shot by socialist-hating patriots for believing they deserve to not go into despair-inducing amounts of debt to merely get a college education.