Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

How Socialist Is Bernie Sanders?

Please read this piece by my colleague Paul Roderick Gregory published by Hoover Institution

The candidacy of Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination raises the real prospect of an avowed socialist as President of the United States. Notably, Sanders reveals little about what socialism means to him, other than giving many things away free. He disarms critics by asserting that he is not a “socialist” but a “Democratic Socialist,” without defining what that means.

Sanders, however, is not the only self-declared “Democratic Socialist” around. The largest American socialist party, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), unlike Sanders, openly declares its intent to abolish capitalism as we know it. A staff writer for a DSA house publication could not be clearer: “In the long run, democratic socialists want to end capitalism…we want to end our society’s subservience to the market.”

Does Sanders agree? That is the question.

Socialism burst on the American political scene with Sanders’ strong bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Not a one-time fluke, Sanders currently ranks at the top of the crowded 2020 Democratic field. The 2018 elections of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Rashida Tlaib to the House added momentum to the socialist chic sweeping the country.  In the past few years, candidates identifying themselves as socialist have won more than 50 state and municipal offices, the latest being the election of five candidates to the Chicago city council.

Sanders has spent a long political career obfuscating his true political beliefs. The media rarely pushes back on his standard platitudes, such as “we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.” His two-minute video, promising to explain his brand of socialism, leaves the viewer clueless, probably deliberately. Sanders insists that he is not a “socialist” but a “Democratic Socialist,” as if the difference is self-explanatory. When pressed further about his Democratic Socialism, he resorts to filibustering about the Scandinavian-like paradise of free medicine and education, guaranteed jobs, livable wages, and other free things he intends to introduce when elected. He does not bother to note that the Nordic states rank among the most free-enterprise economies of the globe.

Read the full article here.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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