Bernie Sanders delivered one of the great political speeches of the year with an address that if listened to and heeded has the power to change America.
Sen. Sanders said:
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. People are not truly free when they have no health care.
So let me define for you, simply and straightforwardly, what democratic socialism means to me. It builds on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans. And it builds on what Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1968 when he stated that; “This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.” It builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.
Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.
Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.
It is a system, for example, which during the 1990s allowed Wall Street to spend $5 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions to get deregulated. Then, ten years later, after the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior of Wall Street led to their collapse, it is a system which provided trillions in government aid to bail them out. Wall Street used their wealth and power to get Congress to do their bidding for deregulation and then, when their greed caused their collapse, they used their wealth and power to get Congress to bail them out. Quite a system!
And, then, to add insult to injury, we were told that not only were the banks too big to fail, the bankers were too big to jail. Kids who get caught possessing marijuana get police records. Wall Street CEOs who help destroy the economy get raises in their salaries. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant by socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.
In my view, it’s time we had democratic socialism for working families, not just Wall Street, billionaires and large corporations. It means that we should not be providing welfare for corporations, huge tax breaks for the very rich, or trade policies which boost corporate profits as workers lose their jobs. It means that we create a government that works for works for all of us, not just powerful special interests. It means that economic rights must be an essential part of what America stands for.
The speech that Sen. Sanders delivered was a cultural landmark. Before the Great Recession, no one could have imagined a major party presidential candidate delivering an address that exposed the inequalities in our economic system.
Sanders explained why he is running for president, “I’m not running for president because it’s my turn, but because it’s the turn of all of us to live in a nation of hope and opportunity not for some, not for the few, but for all.”
Bernie Sanders isn’t a communist or a socialist. Sen. Sanders is a throwback to the days of true liberalism. It wasn’t a coincidence that Sanders frequently referred to the most successful Democratic president of all time in his speech.
Sanders said, “I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.”
Sanders echoed the view of governmental power that echoed FDR. Roosevelt used his power to balance the scales after a decades of a Republican federal government that had become too pro-business and corporation.
Sen. Sanders didn’t offer a defense of democratic socialism. He went on offense with an argument that explained why our system is out of whack. The current American system benefits the few at the expense of the many. Sanders made a compelling argument that it is time to give the country back to the majority and that the power of government should be used to benefit all Americans, not just the wealthy and corporations.
Bernie Sanders delivered a speech that showed that liberalism is alive and well. Republicans are trying to use democratic socialism as a slur, but they are doing so out of fear.
The United States is moving left. The country is becoming more diverse, and Republicans are being left behind. The address by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was a landmark moment that revealed how far the left we have moved. Sanders is a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination, and he delivered a speech that could inspire a movement that will change America.
Sen. Sanders hit a home run with an address that could mark the moment when ordinary Americans mobilized to take their country back from the corporations and billionaires.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association