Today at Georgetown University, Bernie Sanders gave his much anticipated speech on Democratic Socialism and what that means to him. He spent an hour or so speaking to the subject and then participated in a question and answer segment. The following is my interpretation on what went down.
Bernie started it out by pointing out that some of America’s most cherished government programs were socialist in nature. He then framed most of the following speech in the context of FDR’s proposed second Bill of Rights. For those of you unfamiliar, here they are:
- The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
- The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
- The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
- The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
- The right of every family to a decent home;
- The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
- The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
- The right to a good education.
He touched on most of these economic rights with rhetoric you would hear from his stump speech. He threw in some Black Lives Matters language and touched upon mass incarceration. He also attempted to bridge the gap on his policies and his democratic socialist values.
I believe he achieved his goals and laid out a vision of a much more democratic and fair society. I know the right wing might have something to say about it, but I don’t care about most of their criticisms because it has nothing to do with building a sustainable movement on the left. What I will say to my comrades on the left is to be happy.
The Left needs to be happy that we have a viable candidate that will stand up for our values and embraces being called a democratic socialist. Those that call him a Social Democrat are just being sectarian. Don’t be the person that is not happy until he hits and touches upon every rhetorical lefty dog whistle. Sanders has laid out a clear vision for America. Considering that there is no overwhelming consensus of what a democratic socialist society would look like, this is the best we got. Once we are there, we can build more upon this vision. But for now, quit bitching and start organizing.