Bernie Sanders has finally defined what he means by “Democratic Socialism”.
What I mean by Democratic socialism is looking at countries in Scandinavia that have much lower rates of child poverty, that have a fairer tax system that guarantees basic necessities of life to working people. Essentially what I mean by that is creating a government that works for working families, rather than the kind of government we have today which is largely owned and controlled by wealthy individuals and large corporations.
Getting more specific, he gives some examples:
If we go to some countries, what they will have is health care for all as a right. I believe in that. They will have paid family and medical leave. I believe in that. They will have a much stronger childcare system than we have, which is affordable for working families. I believe in that.
Sanders has often used Denmark as his example of democratic socialism, but there are just a few problems with this.
First of all, as Hillary Clinton has pointed out: “We are not Denmark. We are the United States of America.” This might sound like an excuse, but ideologues often make the mistake that just because a system works in one country, it will work just as well in another country. Just because England loves their monarchy doesn’t mean that we should elect someone as our king (but can’t you imagine Donald Trump running for the job).
Second, the Danish prime minister himself claims that Denmark is not at all socialist. Speaking at the Harvard School of Government this week, he said:
I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.
In fact, the current government of Denmark is a center-right coalition, and the second largest political party in Denmark is a hard-right one that is strongly anti-immigration.
Personally, I feel that Sanders is being loose with the term socialism. Socialism is where the state owns and controls the means of production. Examples of socialism in the US include our public streets and highways, our national parks and forests, and our military.
From his examples, it seems like Sanders is really talking about is our social safety net, or as some people might call it, creating a “welfare state”. But a welfare state is not the same thing as socialism.
If people are afraid of the word “socialism”, there is an easy solution. Why doesn’t Sanders just claim that socialism is what you have when you use social media? 🙂