Playing ‘Taps’ for a New Generation

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Another Memorial Day has come and gone.

Some used the long weekend to invite skin cancer at the beach, attend picnics or parties to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, and/or shop for bargains at stores being priced out of existence by online retailers.

In between, there was the normal pomp and circumstance – heightened this year on the 75th anniversary of Normandy — to honor those who died in service to our country.

Still, the sound of “Taps,” which used to give us goose bumps, is background noise to too many.

As much as that seems unfair, there is a stark recent statistic, and it tells us that we need to create a second day to remember those who have fallen on a different type of battlefield – the streets, schoolyards, and schools on the home front.

Despite an 11-year head start, more children have died since the horror of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. than all U.S. soldiers lost in combat overseas since 9/11.

According to a report from the Department of Defense, the military operations since 9/11 have left 6,929 soldiers dead (6,950, counting Department of Defense civilians).

Since the death of 20 first-graders – and six adults – at Sandy Hook, the number of children killed by guns has crossed the 7,000 mark.

And still counting.

While there was some fleeting 24-hours news cycle attention paid to a workplace shooting that left a dozen dead in Virginia Beach, the subsequent weekend saw another bloodbath on the streets of Chicago.

And I can hear it now.

“There goes Gordon again,” you say, with a snort. “That ‘Snowflake’ just loves to write about gun control.”

Actually, I hate it.

With a passion.

The day I don’t have to write about it anymore – and can replace with a list of my favorite songs by Three Dog Night or lessons learned from watching “Seinfeld” — will be cause for a Memorial Day beach barbecue.

What can we do to get on top of this magical place?

It’s so simple that, in fact, maybe we have been missing it all along. Maybe, no matter which side of the issue we are on, we just need to be realistic and keep open minds.

If you are in favor of some extreme form of gun control – like going door to door and collecting them – it’s just not going to happen.

It’s sounds nice, but so does kissing a frog who turns into a prince.

If you are one of those who don’t want the laws touched at all – based on some major misinterpretation of the Second Amendment or, more than likely, “just because” – you are setting yourself up for disappointment as well.

It can’t – and won’t – go on the way it is.

The ebb and flow of the political tide simply won’t let it.

At some point, whether it’s all in 2020 or in two-year increments beyond, mindsets are going to turn more toward change on the issue, if only because people have a “change” fetish.

It’s the only way to explain how someone who says they would have voted for Bernie Sanders for president went for the polar opposite, in terms of political viewpoint, by voting for your president (not mine).

It’s the only way to explain the historic vote of 2018 that put so many women, from so many different backgrounds and viewpoints, in Congress.

And it’s what put these same children – your kids, who wake up each day and go to school with at least passing thoughts that they may not make it home – on the streets in protest after a massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla. to demand change.

National firearm- and nonfirearm-related homicides by youths_0

Like it or not, here they come.

These are your next generation of voters, and they have this issue at, or the near the top, of their “change” list.

What they push for, and may get, could be more than any of us bargained for – including someone like myself, who isn’t looking for some radical attempt at change that it will leave people who want to defend their homes unarmed.

It will, pardon the pun, backfire on all of us.

So, maybe the so-called adults in the room need to have an adult conversation about it.

If I were someone who considers myself a responsible gun owner, I would not be angry with those who are seeking gun control. Once my knee de-jerks itself, my angst would be directed toward those who abuse the privilege of responsible gun ownership, which is one of the main untapped sources of ongoing problems with gun deaths — whether through accidental shootings, suicides, domestic disputes, hunting accidents, etc.

There was a time in this country when cars were on the streets without much policing. Eventually, there became a need for traffic laws – stop signs, red lights, speed limits, etc. – to mitigate the damage of an increasing number of cars, built to go faster, on the road.

These laws, which continue to be put in place to this day – while car manufacturers, foreign and domestic, strive to outdo one another with safety features – are there to save every life possible.

People still die in car crashes, yes, but the sheer number of lives saved with seat belts and airbags and DUI checkpoints is unknown.

Stricter gun control laws won’t stop every tragedy, either.

But it would be a step in the right direction.

And that’s a whole lot better than shrugging it off, saying that we are apples and oranges from other countries (Australia, Japan, etc.) who have succeeded in stemming the tide of gun violence.

And it’s a whole lot better than having a second Memorial Day to play “Taps” to remember children who have been gunned down on domestic battlefields.

This column initially appeared in The Times Herald on June 9, 2019.

Peace with a piece

Celebrating A Life Well-Lived

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It was just the other morning that I glanced over my shoulder and told my dog Rex I’d walk him once I finished the arduous task of dressing in a suit (tying a tie is rocket science in Gordonville).

When there was no response – at all – I took a closer look to see if it registered with a pooch who comprehends English at a high school level.

Turns out, I wasn’t speaking to Rex.

I was promising to walk a black sweatshirt that I easily mistook for Rex, who is well-known for his inertia (also at a high school level).

The humor was not lost, and my first thought was that my Uncle Phil, a longtime veterinarian who loved a good joke almost as much as he did telling one, would particularly enjoy hearing that I briefly got my lazy black dog confused with a sweatshirt of the same color.

The only issue was that I could not tell Uncle Phil about it.

That morning, I was getting dressed for his funeral.

Uncle Phil had died a few days earlier at the age of 95.

While more reason to celebrate a life well-lived than to mourn, the world was left a lesser place unless we accept the challenge to live life the way Uncle Phil did.

I have learned in 54 years on the planet that people are not perfect, and that we all have to accept their good qualities with the not-so-good.

But, in my uncle’s case, I’m reminded of the old documentary-style television show, “In Search Of,” narrated by Leonard “Mr. Spock” Nimoy.

In this episode, the goal would be to search for Uncle Phil’s missing downside.

He was a rare jack of many trades (square dancing, ping-pong, playing bridge, golfing) who mastered them all with sheer joy and zero cockiness.

Even at his funeral service, I learned new things about a man I had known my whole life.

Example: While I knew he was a virtuoso piano player, I had no idea he plied his classically-trained chops in the famed Catskill Mountains before settling down with my late Aunt Miriam (my father’s sister) and becoming the Dr. Doolittle of South Jersey.

What I remember from my youth was that a family gathering wasn’t officially a party until Uncle Phil arrived, armed with new jokes and stories to tell.

He was always at the piano well in time to play “Happy Birthday” for whichever niece or nephew was being feted.

And there he would stay — save maybe a break to smoke his pipe — playing the role of the character depicted in Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.”

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Ironically, Joel also wrote a song called “Only The Good Die Young,” and there is no denying the truth behind the sentiment.

Uncle Phil lost a child — my cousin, Francine — at age 35 to Scleroderma. He kept vigil at her bedside and maintained a brave face for her sake.

It was not the first time he went through the drill.

He never left the side of his older child, Alan, who only narrowly survived a hit-and-run accident while riding a bike while in college.

With Francine, there would be no miracle. Her passing seemed surreal.

I remember entering the same Cherry Hill funeral home where his recent service was held, and being greeted by the overpowering sounds of wailing from Uncle Phil.

He was rightfully inconsolable the day Francine was laid to rest, but he somehow found light in the darkness and eventually reclaimed the same joys in life.

We are talking about someone who attended college – and vet school – at the forerunner of Auburn University in Alabama, a place where a Jewish kid with a thick Brooklyn accent would have trouble today, let alone in those days of black-and-white photos and mind sets.

But, knowing Uncle Phil, whose infectious laughter even oozed Brooklyn, you just know it was likely never an issue.

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In my flood of all positive memories, I go back to the first Thanksgiving we hosted at our new – and current – house in 2003.

We were so proud – and nervous.

I invited an old summer camp friend I hadn’t seen in about 20 years to stop by for a bit. It was Uncle Phil, more than anyone else, who went out of his way to make this old friend feel so welcome that he stayed for hours instead of minutes.

When Aunt Miriam passed away, Uncle Phil fulfilled her prophecy of getting a girlfriend.

He didn’t detach from Aunt Miriam’s side of the family, though. He just brought his companion, Marilyn, to events and carried on as our piano man until his fingers finally betrayed him.

Uncle Phil living to 95 was not by accident. While his kidney functioning got to the point where he needed dialysis three times a week, his spirit was not broken.

He made the most of it, planning out which classic music he was going to play through his iPad during dialysis.

This week’s funeral was more than just a tribute to someone who defied the axiom about only the good dying young.

The good vibrations came easier to Uncle Phil, I believe, because he saw the good in himself.

And there was plenty of it to see.

At the funeral, we were all charged with the task of keeping his memory alive by doing as he would have done.

Be the first to make a stranger feel welcome, conquer your own insecurities enough that you don’t project them onto others, and enjoy the complexities of simple pleasures.

For a sourpuss such as myself, it won’t be easy. But, I’m going to give it a whirl.

I challenge a lot of you, who surely know someone like Uncle Phil within your own personal orbit, to do the same.

The world will be a better place.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on June 2, 2019

Us And Them

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The Brady Bunch or The Partridge Family?

Sounds innocuous enough, but in the alternate universe of nonsense that is Facebook, it sparked an argument that simulated how World War III might unfold.

And this one was not the work of Russian bots.

It was just another sign of the rapid decline of Western Civilization.

Do I get involved?

Guilty as charged.

For starters, blatant grammar errors – “your” instead of “you’re,” or “there” instead of “their” – will turn me rabid on someone already taking the opposing opinion (The Partridge Family, in this case).

Yeah, I take the bait faster than a trout in a pre-stocked lake on the first day of fishing season.

If faced with some of the following, you would, too:

Star Trek or Star Wars?

How do I say this nicely, without coming right out and saying it? If I’m sharing the same oxygen as anyone who prefers Star Wars, I need Scotty to beam me up ASAP. There is no intelligent life down here. And, if you don’t get that reference, there is little hope. Go stick your lightsaber in a dark place.

Lou’s or Eve’s?

This is the ongoing debate for the best Zep in Norristown, the “home” to the sandwich that can actually be found in many other locales, but under other names.

With all due respect to Lou’s, which I admit to having not graced in years – and, when I did, I got that look from the regulars that Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei got from the locals in “My Cousin Vinny” – I have to go with Eve’s here.

One more plus that Eve’s has going for it is that it is one of the few suburban joints that has an edible cheese steak.

Elmwood Park Zoo or Philadelphia Zoo?

Elmwood Park by a mile.

Main reason? The miles.

There is also another reason. I have never heard a traffic report where it wasn’t nearly impossible to get to the Philadelphia Zoo. I don’t care if they have Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster in captivity, it’s just not worth it.

Schuylkill Expressway or Route 422?

Neither, as I avoid both like the plague (see above).

Never ever?

Never ever.

Eagles games?

Kelly Drive, or weave through the city.

Limerick outlets or a baseball game in Reading?

Backroads.

Like I said, never ever.

McDonald’s or Wendy’s?

I used to keep McDonald’s in this conversation because of its semi-edible breakfasts, but there seems to be a conspiracy afoot to screw up every drive-thru order.

I’m working on 11 times in a row, and I’m not looking to make it 12.

Once we get past breakfast time, forget about it.

The only place with an edible burger is Wendy’s.

As for other fast food joints, Burger King does not float my bloat. We have to watch some of the others around because they cook their fries in peanut oil, and Sofia is allergic to nuts.

I am going through a bit of a Taco Bell resurgence, but I know I’m setting myself up for a rude awakening.

Chic-Fil-A? Even if the food floated my boat, which it doesn’t, the franchise joins Mel Gibson on boycott list.

The reasons? Look it up. I’m not alone.

Dogs or Cats?

We have a dog (Rex), three cats (Hank, Licorice and Hershey) and a bunny with floppy ears (Buttons). If it has four legs and a tail, they are welcome here.

That said, while cats are cool to have around a house, dogs make a house a home.

Walking or Running?

Because of Rex, I get my walking in that way, and it is fine with me.

Why run when you can walk? Why stand when you can sit down, and why sit down when you can recline?

Game of Thrones or The Sopranos?

Well, let’s put it this way, The Sopranos remains my favorite show of all-time. I still watch it on a continual loop, and it is so nuanced that I still pick up on different twists.

As a show, it set the bar for all to follow – from cable networks to Netflix and other formats – and that was not by accident.

I did watch the first season of Game of Thrones when it originally aired and found it compelling, considering the whole fantasy genre is not my plate of pasta with homemade meatballs.

When Ned Stark was beheaded, it had impact. The only reason I didn’t keep up with the show was because the subsequent season rolled around with both the Flyers and Sixers making 2012 playoff runs and, well, a guy has to have priorities.

With the better half ceding to water-cooler peer pressure at work, we endeavored to go back to the beginning and get caught up, via the binge.

She is still binging, and is somewhere into Season 4 or 5.

I barely made it into a few episodes of Season 3, and this was after finding Season 1 just as compelling as the first time around.

Amazing how the show gained in popularity the sillier, and more violent, it became – almost to the point of becoming a high-budget parody of Season 1.

Actually, it’s not amazing at all. It’s reflective of the sadistic culture in which we live, where we are numb to mad kings and tragic violence.

Give me the bell bottoms and min-skirts of The Brady Bunch any day of the week.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald on May 26, 2019.

No Reason To Play Ball

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — When it comes to sports, I’m as provincial as it gets.

If you’re from Philly and not a fan of a Philly team, get away – and stay away – from me.

It’s a question of loyalty.

There was one exception, to which I plead guilty – albeit with an explanation.

My grandparents had a summer home on the outskirts of Atlantic City that received both Philadelphia and New York channels.

Perfect for my grandfather, who would watch anything sports-related, even roller derby or celebrity bowling.

A perfect fit for me, because I loved sports – and my grandfather.

The Phillies preempted everything in those 1970s summers – except maybe an Eagles preseason game – but it was not uncommon to watch a Mets or a Yankees game. While there was no way I was going to cheer for the Mets, who were a divisional rival of the Phillies, I admittedly developed an affinity for the Yankees in those carefree days before interleague play.

Soon, a disdain developed for the Yankees’ rivals, with the Boston Red Sox topping the list.

And nothing was more annoying than to hear people from that town with so many championships in basketball and hockey whine, in their irksome accents, about how they were cursed because they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920.

This alleged curse was eventually broken, as the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

They won it again in 2007 and 2013, before doing it again last season.

And with the Phillies a distant fourth – actually, fifth, if you count Temple football — on my Philly interest list, I may have to go get a Red Sox cap or hoodie or something.

And it has zero to do with me being a frontrunner. That’s not how I roll.

It’s because they have players – and a manager — who went against peer pressure and refused to visit the White House for a recent dog and pony show with your president (not mine).

The players who chose not take part had valid reasons, but I’d like to focus specifically on why manager Alex Cora took his stand.

It was a question of loyalty, which earns bonus points in Gordonville.

As a native of Puerto Rico, and as one who has been deeply immersed in relief efforts since Hurricane Maria’s wrath in the fall of 2017, he simply could not hang with the “man” who threw paper towels at his people for one photo opportunity and never looked backed in his rearview mirror at the island again.

In a Spanish to English translation, Cora said: “Although the government of the United States has helped, there is still a long way to go, that is OUR reality. I have continually used my voice so that we Puerto Ricans are not forgotten and my absence is not different. Therefore, at this moment, I do not feel comfortable celebrating in the White House.”

Cora is actually being kind in saying the government’s help was anything more than perfunctory, especially in comparison to its swift responses to natural disasters in red states with primarily white victims – 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in Houston and a destructive tornado in Lee County, Alabama in early March of this year.

Tapping into old country club canards about how minorities manage their finances, the current administration has painted Puerto Rico, where 3,000 perished, as mismanaged and corrupt and using aid money to cover old debts.

The implication is that the rich white man should not be punished by paying for it.

On the ground, it is a much different – and urgent – story.

The argument that “too much” aid is being sent to this American territory where residents serve in the military (assuming there are no bone spurs) and pay into Social Security, the infrastructure remains at the level of a third-world country.

According to a University of Michigan study, the federal response to hurricanes Harvey and Irma (affecting Florida and Georgia, two more red states, in 2017) on the continental U.S. was “faster and more generous” than the response to Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico.

The study adds that survivors of Harvey and Irma had received nearly $100 million in federal funds nine days after the hurricanes hit land. Hurricane Maria survivors had gotten just over $6 million in this time frame.

This is about more than just how Puerto Rico has been treated, which is like dirt on the bottom of a sociopath’s shoe.

A lot of you want to know why I refer to the president as “your president (not mine),” and this is one of a growing list of reasons why.

My theoretical president (not yours, more than likely) would have felt compassion for Puerto Rico.

He – or she – would not have done the following:

-Justified putting children in cages after separating them from their parents.

-Denied the science supporting the man-made climate change that is likely behind these extreme natural disasters.

-Put Neo-Nazis on equal footing with counter-protesters.

-Called for gun control — not backing for the NRA – after ongoing mass shootings.

And my president would not have given good reason for the champions of what was once considered America’s pastime – where grandsons would skip the beach just to watch games all day with their grandfathers – to choose to not show up at the White House.

This column originally appeared in the Times Herald on May 19, 2019.

Let Me Tell Your Story

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By GORDON GLANTZ

“Our lives are to be used and thus to be lived as fully as possible, and truly it seems that we are never so alive as when we concern ourselves with other people.”

– Harry Chapin

GORDONVILLE — I hit a T intersection this week.

And it turned out to be the intersection of Truth.

To the left – my usual way to turn – I had the Silly Putty that is the daily folly of your president (not mine) and more mass shootings du jour.

To the right – the path of least resistance (i.e. decrying political correctness) — there were the likes Facebook banning this and that but not that or this, and the slippery slope we are now skiing down at warp speed.

I also had the U-Turn — Mother’s Day. I was already off and running with a list of all-time greatest movie moms that would have left me on life support (i.e. would have nearly killed me to include moms from movies I otherwise loathe – “The Sound of Music” and “Forest Gump.).

Instead, I decided to carve out a new path – and plow straight ahead – by hanging out a shingle in the Town Square.

It reads: Let me tell your stories.

This epiphany happened after I delivered a few extra copies of The Times Herald from a few Sundays back to the Plymouth Meeting home of Nick DiDomenico, the nearly 100-year-old World War II veteran featured in last Sunday’s paper.

DiDomenico thanked me – up and down and inside and out – for telling his personal story of survival, which I can’t believe went untold when it was right under our noses all these years.

I found myself thanking him back.

Why? Because I was truly grateful to have the chance to tell it.

Writers write, and story tellers tell stories. I may not be able to do a lot of things well – just ask my wife – but I have those skills down cold.

Telling stories can be a tricky business, though. I have been at it long enough to know that they need to be told in not only the right place and time, but in the right context.

What struck me about my conversation with DiDomenico, who still has a handshake that could break your fingers, was that his fascinating story of survival in the South Pacific was one he really didn’t have much interest in telling when his train pulled back into town after his tour of duty.

At the time, he was just grateful to be home, and to go on with his life.

But that was in 1946, when he came home after being an atomic bomb away from having to go in with a backpack and bayonet in hand and fight the Japanese on their turf.

Now a widower of a more than three decades, and about to become a centenarian, he felt a sudden need to tell his story. There was a sense of satisfaction that it had be done.

As we chatted, while waiting for his Meals on Wheels to arrive, you could sense a burden had lifted off his chest.

He was still answering phone calls on his throwback phone with a “What do you want?” instead of “hello,” but had more of a sense of humor about it.

At nearly 100 – there will be a celebration at the Greater Plymouth Community Center when it becomes official in August – it was almost like he was a new man.

At 54, so was I.

Like the lead character in the 1941 film “Sullivan’s Travels,” who realizes he was put on earth to make comedy movies, it affirmed my long-held suspicion about what I was put on earth to do.

Whether it is songs or human interest features, my purpose is to tell stories.

Your stories.

You need not be anyone of major importance – or self-importance — to have your story told.

I have no real interest in the tales of kings and queens, let alone those who think they are via some bizarre birthright.

As we find out from DiDomenico, the most compelling stories come from people who don’t think their stories are worth telling.

Well, guess what? They are.

If DiDomenico’s story slipped through the cracks for so many years, it makes me wonder how many more are out there.

We may have people in our community who fought for Civil Rights, valiantly served in the Vietnam War (or protested against it at equal risk and bravery) or countless other compelling stories.

If you are not sure, let me decide.

If you are not one to toot your own horn, or if you are reading this and know of someone with an intriguing story to be told, you know where I am.

At the intersection of Truth.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on May 12.

Don’t Throw Socialism Boomerang

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Good morning, students.

I’ll be your professor for this class.

The only prerequisite here is to leave your preconceived notions at the door.

First, before we begin our lecture, some questions.

Raise your hand if, in your lifetime, you have done any of the following:

1) Driven on a highway?

2) Crossed a bridge and paid a toll?

3) Received mail from the postal service?

4) Worked a 40-hour work week, and were then eligible for overtime beyond that?

5) Had your street plowed by a public entity after a snowstorm?

6) Received electricity from a local dam?

7) Been to a hospital?

8) Attended public school (or taken a public school bus to a private school)?

Congratulations, you can now be accused of being a socialist – unless you want to give these amenities up, you can’t let it become the dirty word some would like you to think it is.

In actuality, it is the blood in our veins. It is as American as fantasy football, junk food and tribalism.

No way, you say?

Angry student in the back, you have something to add?

“Yeah, uh, I am no (expletive deleted) Socialist,” he says. “I was in the military and served this country to preserve the American way, and now I’m going to school to earn a degree and work for a corporation. We should have started this class with the pledge of allegiance or maybe sang “America The Beautiful.” How dare you call me a socialist?”

Sorry to have offended you.

And thank you for your service.

However, the military is one of our largest forms of ongoing socialism. The armed services are propped up on the shoulders of the American taxpayer, as it is funded by approximately 27 percent of our tax dollars to run a war machine of $600 billion per year.

By comparison, that dwarfs supposed “socialist” evils – Social Security/Unemployment ($29 billion), education ($70 billion), science (around $30 billion) and infrastructure ($96 billion).

As for the pledge of allegiance and “America The Beautiful,” both were penned by avowed socialists – Francis Bellamy and Katherine Lee Bates, respectively.

Other American icons who were self-labeled as socialists include Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Helen Keller and Harry Houdini.

And good luck finding a job in corporate America, sir. Hope you get your six-figure salary and live the good life.

There, as you did in the military, you will be the beneficiary of another form of socialism: Corporate Welfare.

While Corporate America fingers welfare as the source of all evil, corporate welfare runs amok. In the new Millennium, the government has gifted $70 billion in grants and tax credits to business. Despite lip service to the contrary, it is really not for smaller mom-and-pop businesses, as about two-thirds of the bounty lines the deep pockets of big corporations to feed the same beasts that jack up our pill bills and pollute our air.

Any other questions?

“Yes, weren’t the Nazis socialists?” she says, after looking it up on her iPhone. “Wasn’t that a noble cause?”

Thank you for bringing that up.

The Nazi party called itself the National Socialist party, but its ideals were anything but socialist. We are talking about the poster children for fascism, which is far right and militaristic in nature.

I would suggest you take a hardcore history class to learn the details, but you can trust me on this.

Back to the point of this lecture.

The scare tactics being used by your president (not mine) – and his millions of minions that equal a vocal minority of roughly 30 percent of the population – is that socialism is an evil that must be stopped in its tracks in the 2020 election.

What is being misrepresented as socialism are progressive ideas and ideals now entering into the Democratic Party’s platform.

If it sounds familiar, it’s the same way right-wing tendencies once seeped into the veins Republican party before Barack Obama even took the oath of office.

What they don’t touch on is the vast difference between Democratic Socialism – which really needs a new name (Compassionate Capitalism is my idea) – and old-school socialism in the Lenin and Marx sense.

At face value, without going any further, Democratic Socialism – by definition – means the leaders are elected in a wholly democratic system that provides more in the way of social services.

And no, it is not “free stuff” that you have to pay for in the end. It is just a more equitable redistribution of funds, all while capitalism is alive and well.

Countries that feature universal health care, free daycare, better primary education, gun control laws, free college, less hours worked and more of the restorative power of a free and rested mind do quite well on the economic front, too.

Why can’t we have some of that? We gorge on international food, guzzle imported beer and consider a sign of capitalistic success being able to drive a foreign car.

You don’t have to stop being a flag-waving American who misunderstands the meaning of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” to beg, borrow and steal from what other countries that raise their quality of life standard and their average life span are able to achieve.

Class dismissed.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on May 5.