While speaking at George Washington University on Wednesday, a progressive 2020 presidential hopeful let everyone in on his vision for America. Bernie Sanders' speech on democratic socialism wraps up his philosophy in a nutshell, and according to Vox, it's the second major address he's given on the topic. The last time Sanders discussed the subject was in 2015 while vying for the Democratic presidential nomination at the time.
Calling out economic inequality and corporate greed, Sanders defined his vision of democratic socialism for America as a path toward accountability and equanimity. "It is my very strong belief that the United States must reject that path of hatred and divisiveness — and instead find the moral conviction to choose a different path, a higher path, a path of compassion, justice and love," he said Wednesday. "It is the path that I call democratic socialism."
According to the Democratic Socialists of America, democratic socialism supports the idea that a country's economy should be democratically owned. This means that all people of the country, not just the powerful elite, should have access to economic profits and social goods. In practice, the public would own enterprises like energy, steel, mass transit, housing, consumer goods, and more. Because democratic socialism favors social ownership, workers would have the autonomy to make social and economic decisions as opposed to the private sector mostly controlling industries.
Invoking America's past, Sanders praised democratic socialism and said that the United States needed a new era of New Deal politics. In the 1930s, former president Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the New Deal, which was a set of social programs to help everyday Americans find economic relief and stability after the Great Depression.
"Over 80 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped create a government that made transformative progress in protecting the needs of working families," Sanders said. "Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion."
To wrap up the "unfinished business of the New Deal," Sanders said current Democratic Party members had to take it upon themselves to provide effective social welfare programs to working Americans. "This is the unfinished business of the Democratic Party," Sanders explained, "and the vision we must accomplish."
During his speech, Sanders also said that America and the rest of the world had to choose one of two "very different political paths." On one side, Sanders said, there was "oligarchy and authoritarianism" at the expense of working people.
On the other side, Sanders noted, "There is a movement of working people and young people who, in ever increasing numbers, are fighting for justice." The Vermont senator highlighted the cases of various teachers' strikes in America demanding better conditions for their students, service industry workers unionizing and demanding livable wages, and immigrants seeking "comprehensive immigration reform."
Additionally, Sanders pointed to protesters ringing the alarm on the fossil fuel industry, people of color and their allies tackling "systemic racism," and women "who refuse to give control of their bodies to local, state and federal politicians."
To ensure every American had the right to freedom, Sanders said democratic socialism would be the answer. "Democratic socialism to me," Sanders stated Wednesday, "requires achieving political and economic freedom in every community."
If you compare Sanders' remarks on democratic socialism in 2015 to the speech he gave on Wednesday, you may notice that the Vermont senator hasn't changed his mind about the subject. But this time, he made sure to differentiate himself from President Donald Trump.
Trump "believes in corporate socialism for the rich and powerful," Sanders said. This was antithetical to his vision, he explained. "I believe in a democratic socialism," he stated, "that works for the working families of this country." If you're interested, you can read the full address.