Welcome to the Point-of-View series, in which I chronicle my opinions and ‘points of view’ about various topics.
This first issue is both timely and important as Canada just went through a Federal election last fall, Saskatchewan is approaching its Provincial election in April and North American (if not the world) is watching as the US has an openly proclaiming Social Democrat running for Presidential nomination (Bernie Sanders).
Social Democracy is the belief government should work for the people, supporting needs through strong social structures and programs instead of running solely on a capitalist model which seeks profits at the cost of people. Of course, my opinion is biased in wording.
A definition that doesn’t compare from the Democratic Socialists of America states that,
“Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.”
What a great system, right? Government that runs democratically, with the input of the people it serves and to strives to meet public needs. Isn’t that what we all want?
Except that it isn’t what we get.
Situations like the one in Flint, Michigan speak to this, The various governments there are at a gridlock with no one accepting responsibility for the situation and no government providing financial support or even accessible water. Political gridlock should be avoidable in a global, first world, superpower. But it’s about money, institutional biases, and an impoverished community. This is unjust. This does not reflect the desire of most people to help those who are suffering. This is the fruit of a government that relies on the market tenets to allow some people to rise to the top and others to be trampled below. Social democracy seeks to eliminate and mitigate the financial imperative, the totalitarian desire of people, and work to acknowledge and limit societal bias.
This should be supported by a Christian belief system. The basic tenets of this faith state that we must help the poor, the weak, exemplified in Matthew 25:35-40.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (NIV)
A strong support is also Galatians 6:2
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (ESV)
“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (ESV)
Social democracy is about equalizing the playing field, creating equality for all and providing for those who are not able to create the same advantages as more privileged individuals, distributing money is a fashion that meets needs without creating excesses.
The Christian faith provides that we are to bear each other’s burdens, provide for those who cannot provide for themselves, and strive to NOT be rich. How could these two beliefs not be more complimentary.
I firmly believe that Social Democracy is a Christian Ideology.
As this is not a scholarly paper I have only provided a cursory look at some of the overlap, mostly my point of view. Additional Resources written by smart smart people are at the bottom.
Understanding Social Democracy – D.Sheri Berman Associate Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
Social Democracy is 100% American – Harvey J. Kaye, Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Foundations of Social Democracy – Tobias Gombert u.a., Akademie fur Soziale Demokratie
Commonwealth Economics: Christian Socialism as Tradition and Problem – Gary Dorrien, Tikkun Magazine