John Balentine’s recent editorial opinion piece dishonestly equates the authoritarian dictatorship of Venezuela’s Maduro with the democratic socialism already practiced, promoted and cherished by Americans through Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, welfare, HUD programs, fuel subsidies, farm subsidies, public education grants, energy and utility subsidies, education and child care assistance, funding for public radio, television, arts, education and other valuable community services.

Rather than support more money for the arts or Social Security, Republican party leaders promote authoritarian propaganda. Balentine (like former state representative Bruce Poliquin) invents numbers and changes the meaning to words to serve Putin-style propaganda via the Republican Party.

But we know democratic socialism already, as we experience it every day in our essential community services. It’s similar to the democratic socialism practiced in Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Spain. And we’ve known Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for decades as staunch defenders of human rights.

So, what authoritarian socialists threaten our world with oppression?  Venezuela’s Maduro, Turkey’s Erdogan, North Korea’s Chairman Kim, Russia’s Putin. And these are the toxic dictators infecting the Republican party and endangering all of our freedoms and rights.

Jenny Ruth Yasi