Presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders has never shied away from calling himself a “democratic socialist” – a term that became a slur in post-WWII American politics – despite being widely criticized for endorsing his political philosophy.
Although the word “socialism” doesn’t carry the same negative undertone it once did, not among the young voters at least, many political analysts once believed that the label of socialism on the Vermont senator would affect his presidential run. However, it appears that he has successfully managed to become a legitimate contender for the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to a crowd of students at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. on Thursday, Sanders finally detailed why he calls himself a democratic socialist, what the label means to him and how it would affect America if he were to become president.
He also clarified that his political viewpoint was the “authentic face of American democracy,” not a radical foreign import as many claim it to be.
“I don’t believe in some foreign ‘ism’, but I believe deeply in American idealism,” Sanders told the students, drawing parallels between his views and those Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope Francis to tell to impress upon the audience how largely misunderstood the term is.
“I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production,” he said, rejecting the strict definition of socialism. “But I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down. I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad.”
Democratic Socialism means that we must reform our political system which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 20, 2015
Basically, it seems that Sanders would like $15 minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges, single-payer health care and, well, a basic economy with a large welfare and appropriate regulation.
“People are not truly free when they are unable to feed their family. People are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity. People are not truly free when they are unemployed or underpaid, or when they are exhausted by working long hours,” the presidential frontrunner explained. “People are not truly free when they have no health care."
Towards the end of his speech, he also said that the United States should collaborate with Russia, thus creating a “new NATO,” to disrupt ISIL in Syria.
“Our priority must be to defeat [ISIL],” the senator elaborated, adding that Sryian president Bashar al-Assad should be eventually removed from power. “Powerful Muslim nations in the region can no longer sit on the sidelines and expect the United States to do their work for them.”
Listen to his entire speech in the video below: