There are a lot of misconceptions about socialism in the United States. Many Republicans use it as an insult as Democrats take pride in instituting socialist programs in the U.S. It’s time to clear up what socialism is, especially here in the U.S.

Before diving into socialism, let’s discuss economic systems as a whole. The most important thing to note is that every system is perfect in theory, but no system works perfectly in practice. The U.S. is widely considered capitalist, but it’s only mostly capitalist. A truly capitalist society would not have any government involvement, such as a minimum wage or laws against monopolies, which most would agree those are good policies to have and monitor.

On the other hand, socialism is an economic and political system, and there are many versions of it. Ours would be considered democratic socialism, meaning we, or more specifically our elected officials, control how the wealth of the nation is managed. As a largely capitalist nation, the U.S. only has limited amounts of socialism in its economy, such as a mandatory minimum wage, government welfare and other government-funded programs. These bits of socialist practice maintain America’s quality of life, so the question is: Do we need more than these small bits of socialism?

Democratic socialism has been tried in the past, but typically the term “socialist” meets heavy resistance. Programs like ObamaCare or any system that would allow students to go to college for free would be considered socialist. These systems can sometimes become very Robin Hood-esque, meaning take from the rich and give to the poor. So reasons stand to say, in opposition to socialist ideas and practices are the ones being taken from.

The individuals and companies who are wealthy enough to lobby politicians and exert influence are the exact targets of democratic socialism. There’s also the middle class which stands in opposition to socialist programs. Then it’s not just the 1 percent who’s being affected but America’s 20 percent. A lot of our parents, or maybe even ourselves, fall into this category, and it’s incredibly difficult for people who have actually worked hard and earned their money over the course of their entire lives to give up what benefits they have to those who don’t have as much.

But Democratic socialism isn’t after the middle class. Despite what average people like you and me might believe, there are people far richer than we can even imagine. Some net close to, if not over, a billion dollars. This is the money democratic socialism targets to give back to the community, not the middle class. The middle class might be financially well-off and doing better than most, but even those salaries can’t compare to the real money floating around in the American economy.

The perfect economic system doesn’t exist. America is going to have to blend the economic systems we use today – capitalist and socialist. It won’t be perfect for every individual, but sacrifices are going to have to be made. Socialism is not evil and neither is capitalism; both work in a vacuum, but I believe we need more socialist practices than capitalist if we’re going to find that balance. It’s difficult, but it truly is necessary if anyone cares about America’s overall quality of life and not just those who can afford it.