People who live far, far away from Cleveland or Omaha or Miami or Atlanta are bug-eyed, today. They should have read my blog last week: America is divided like no other place on earth, even worse than those that slaughter each other.

We’re fortunate that Western society is wise enough to keep from killing Itself. In fact, that may be the most important thing in America today. But The Divide here is gaping. I predicted it ten years ago in my novel, Chasm Gorge.

There’s a reason we’re so divided and it’s much more substantial than the media bite, “grievance,” and even more fundamental than “racism.”

It pops into the vernacular from time to time immediately then to be swept aside. Few dare address it yet. Most believe it’s too toxic, not to mention its historic baggage. I’m talking about “socialism.”

That’s what divides America: the specter of socialism.

“White grievance” inverts itself then defines itself as the bulwark against socialism. Similarly, “racism” or ‘otherness’ theoretically doesn’t exist in pure socialism, so in a really weird way for many people that makes racism a positive thing.

Moreover, the notion that communism prevents individual freedoms is now inextricably tangled with the word, socialism. Truth is that ideal socialism actually enhances individual freedom and is often at polar ends to communism.

All three of these examples risk a failing grade in any normal logic class but unfortunately they’re now welded into the American discussion. The word has been hijacked but dang it, I don’t know a better one.

The linguistic battle over “socialism” has been going on for so long in America that it’s hard to tell what Americans really think about the idea of community responsibility. If we could just get to that simple discussion I think we’d begin to mend the divide.

But every time we broach community responsibility in a meaningful way, Medicare-for-All, progressive taxes, universal child care – “socialism” rears its presumed ugly head and thwarts the discussion.

Bernie hopes that replacing “socialism” with “democratic socialism” will do the trick. I think that’s just sidestepping the problem. The less educated, worldly American is terrified of the word regardless of its adjectives.

Why are they terrified? Perhaps, gods forbid, they really know that socialism subverts excessive individualism for the better good. Better good. Get it? We all end up better. All for one and one for all. E pluribus unum.

Perhaps Americans don’t like how they were supposed to be created.

I try to point ears across the Atlantic. Virtually every European country is by any metric, “socialist,” even the UK. (Probably even Canada.) Dozens of their institutional, conventional political parties call themselves various versions of “socialist.”

Europeans are doing quite well, thank you – better than Americans by many measures – and their individual freedoms are better protected than ours.

The mantle of champion of liberty and freedom is held today indisputably by Europe. And that mantle hangs on a brick wall of socialism.

Americans are still in preschool when it comes to modern government, so at the risk of oversimplification understand that community is more important than the individual in rational socialism. That’s a good way to start, because while it’s not wholly true, it’s true enough:

Every American must stand first for their community, or for themself. If we get to that point I think we can shrug off the innuendos and false presumptions of what socialism means.

In an overpopulated, instantly interconnected world, the community perforce dominates every moment. Individuals who ignore the community are submerged by it. Individuals who ban together to regulate the community protect their freedoms.

Socialism. (Unless you’ve got a better word.)