Republicans equate it to communism and Democrats fear using the word. So, let’s examine it and make some things clear. Under communism, the government has absolute control. In this system no individual is permitted more privilege or property than any other. All is controlled by the state and doled out equally to be used as determined by the ruling government. That is the enforced law.
Under socialism, programs are designed to prevent citizens from falling behind due to expenses they cannot reasonably afford. Failure to do this causes poverty.
What happens when a large section of the society confronts poverty? It causes huge problems for the economy and crime increases. Addressing the poverty problem becomes a difficult and expensive problem for the government, as we learned (or should have learned) from the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Socialism does NOT eliminate individual initiative. Instead, it increases the ability to survive. If one thinks socialistic programs are expensive, consider the governmental cost of eliminating extensive poverty. In fact, America already relies on socialistic programs.
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all forms of socialism. Without them, many middle-class citizens would confront bankruptcy and/or poverty. If you doubt it, ASK them. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren categorize it as “democratic socialism.” It has been largely successful in Canada and many European countries for years. Arguments that it serves only the elite or makes people wait in long lines are largely debunked when the program is applied in a systematic way.
Capitalism is only effective when everyone can participate. In our present society, many middle-class citizens have a difficult time acquiring the necessary assets to initiate or maintain businesses, in part because banks and lending institutions are reluctant to take unnecessary risks. This means the corporate elite control corporations, including wages, benefits, prices, and exercise considerable influence over governmental policies which affect the largely powerless working class.
So here is the trade-off: we either institute socialistic programs or confront having a two-class society–the rich and the poor–ending democracy as we know it.