Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders gave an intense, edgy speech, sounding a rallying cry for supporters to fight against “oligarchy and authoritarianism,” at a private event held at George Washington University in Washington, on June 12.
“If there was ever a moment when we needed to stand up and fight against the forces of oligarchy and authoritarianism, this is that time,” said Sanders.
Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist and progressive, was the Democratic candidate for the 2016 elections for president, He is now running in the primaries to regain that position to compete against President Donald Trump in 2020.
As the senator of Vermont, he is a member of the Independent Party, yet identifies as a Socialist Democrat and Progressive.
Although the United States is currently experiencing record lows in unemployment rates, especially among Black and Hispanic Americans, along with a steadily rising U.S. economy, Sanders proposed a “21st century economic Bill of Rights” where every person in the country has the right to a decent job, health care, affordable housing, higher education, secure retirement, and a clean environment.
Each of these promises would require more government involvement in regulation and management. Socialism, in general, encourages government rule over everyday affairs, from the cradle to the grave.
The day before his Washington speech, in an interview with POLITICO, Sanders said his goal the next day is to explain “what democratic socialism means to me—and in fact, what democratic socialism means to me is a continuation of what Franklin Delano Roosevelt talked about.”
“What I’m talking about tomorrow is not particularly radical,” Sanders added. “But we have to put it on the table and make sure everyone appreciates why economic rights are human rights.”
What Sanders talked about was a comparison between today’s state of affairs and the urgent state of affairs during the 1930s. Sanders has family members who were killed in the Holocaust. He reminded the audience of how in 1939 tens of thousands of Nazis gathered “in Madison Square Garden in front of a 30-foot-tall banner of George Washington bordered with swastikas.”
“We rejected the ideology of Mussolini and Hitler. We instead embraced the bold and visionary leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” he said.
“Together with organized labor, leaders in the African-American community, and progressives inside and outside the party, Roosevelt led a transformation of the American government and the American economy,” Sanders continued.
Sanders’s proposed cradle-to-grave welfare system sounds like a utopian dream that is likely to appeal to younger voters, as they are finding it more difficult than their parents and grandparents to find and retain employment, buy real estate, and still afford appealing lifestyle choices such as expensive tech gadgetry, higher education, and travel.
Pay more taxes
During an interview with CNN, Sanders was asked how he would respond to President Donald Trump bringing up Venezuela as an example of failed socialism, to which he replied: “Look, what we have to understand, for example … the United States is the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right.”
“In many countries in Europe, Germany for one, you go to college and the cost of college is zero. I think in Finland they actually pay you to go to college. In most countries around the world the level of income and wealth inequality, which in the United States today is worse than at any time since the 1920s … that level of income and wealth inequality is much less severe than it is right here in the United States,” he said.
When the CNN reporter reminded Sanders that the taxes in those other countries is much higher than they are in the United States, Sanders countered, “Yeah, but I suspect that a lot of people in the country would be delighted to pay more in taxes if they had comprehensive health care as a human right.”
While the term democratic socialism has the word “socialism” in it, it is not what can be strictly described as the authoritarian governmental systems historically associated with hardcore socialism. But they are very similar in ideology. Furthermore, in many countries, the incorporation of socialism eventually lead to communism over the years, as with China and Russia. Venezuela is currently suffering the socialist struggle for example, and its struggles resemble the gentler kinder days of now-communist countries.
To start, Democratic Socialism and Socialism are both similar in that both are fundamentally anti-capitalist and believe the government should enforce laws upon private business owners to grant workers as much control as possible, according to Business Insider.
The rest of the differences between socialism and democratic socialism vary in definition and are left open to conjecture as the new strain of socialism has not gone viral in any nation, so to speak. Democratic socialism is a relatively new political construct and has no definite boundaries.
One group, the Democratic Socialists of America’s manifesto says they support reform that: decrease the influence of money in politics, empower ordinary people in workplaces and the economy, and restructure gender and cultural relationships to be more equitable.
Socialism not for America
During his 2019 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump said his administration is dedicated to keeping America from turning into a socialist country.
“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Trump said to cheers from many in the audience, from both parties, as he addressed the chaotic situation in Venezuela and alluded to the growing number of politicians under the Independent and Democratic parties who identify as democratic socialists.
Trump added, “America was founded on liberty and independence—not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”