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Sander's monumental mistake: failing to explain exactly what a democratic socialist government is

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on OpEdNews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)
 

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19 people are discussing this page, with 41 comments  Post Comment


Michael Payne

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It's time that Sanders speaks out, explains what democratic socialism is and reminds Americans that it is a central part of this country, and that's why he espouses that political ideology. If he does, then the wind will be at his back but, if he fails and remains silent on this matter, then he will be portrayed as a Socialist threat by the Republican attack dogs and that's a losing proposition.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 2:53:19 PM

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Lance Ciepiela

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Reply to Michael Payne:   New Content

#FeelTheBern - perhaps Sanders could announce that his 'Political Revolution' may not be achievable with the current two Party 'duopoly system' monopoly grip of 'political power' in America - therefore, he's asking all of his supporters 'to write him in on their ballots' on election day as an 'Independent'. An Independent President Sanders would not be hamstrung by the 'great partisan divide' of the 'Donkeys' vs the 'Elephants.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 5:26:35 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to Lance Ciepiela:   New Content

You just might have something there.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 10:33:18 PM

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Gene Case

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"Sanders should also explain that Trump and his Republican enablers are plunging the nation into full-blown kleptocracy (Merriam-Webster: "government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed") with none too subtle fascist undertones.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 6:42:11 PM

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Karl Smith

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Democrats including Sanders are not Socialists. Socialism would mean nationalizing our industries and taking your businesses and property. Democrats invest in what our people need to thrive, but these same investments a necessary for most of our businesses to exist. So, what Democrats do is "Enable Capitalism" to work for everyone. The GOP (no matter which Democrat wins the nomination) wants to make the race about Capitalism vs. Socialism. The real debate is between "Rigged Capitalism" that works mostly for the few and "Enabled Capitalism" to work for everyone.

Democrats need to explain How Bottom-Up Economics Works. My contribution to that effort is in a couple of short videos at www.votereducationproject.com/hbuew

Kudos for your article!

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 7:00:19 PM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Reply to Karl Smith:   New Content

"Rigged Capitalism" vs "Enabled Capitalism"

I like it!

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 9:19:35 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to Karl Smith:   New Content

I like that too, very insightful thoughts.l

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 10:35:33 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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I understand why Bernie wouldn't want to explain democratic socialism. "The period when Stalin hasn't said FOOLED YA! yet" doesn't sound like a huge vote attractor.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 7:08:41 PM

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John Lawrence Ré

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Yes, and he has to pledge not to cut taxes to fund his programs, but do what Gabbard has been suggesting - claw back the trillions we blow on interventions and military bases around the world. Raising taxes will only further crush small business to the delight of mega-corps and push down the upper middle class to propserity levels once occupied by the middle class (who are now strapped and broke), thus accelerating the national descent into a true banana republic vis a vis the Geni coeffecient criteria.

Attacking Clinton for sabotaging Gabbard, who left her lofty post to campaign for him in 2016, wouldn't hurt either. It might even get voters like me who still view him as a coward for his embrace of Clinton to reconsider him if Gabbard withdraws. It certainly wouldn't hurt his chances, as no one enamored of Clinton will vote for him anyway.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 7:46:02 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to John Lawrence Ré:   New Content

He is not a coward and that is an unfair assessment. And, when you say "as no one enamored of Clinton will vote for him anyway" how in the world can you possibly know that?

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 10:39:21 PM

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John Lawrence Ré

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Reply to Michael Payne:   New Content

Because, Michael, after the attack on Gabbard, Bernie failed to call out Clinton (I know that I woud have, and knowing you a little bit now, I bet you would have, too). That's why we contributed to Sanders in 2016 - we felt he would do the right thing no matter the consequences. His not standing up to Clinton is IMO cowardly...especially in light of how Gabbard gave up her VC at DNC to campaign for him KNOWING it would incur the eteranl hatred of HRC. That's the definition of courage. His just saying (paraphraising) "It's outrageous because she's serving our country" to imply she can't a Russian asset," is a cop out. Even Beto's response was better than that.

And obviously Michael I didn't mean literally "no one." But I'd lay heavy, heavy odds against people who love Clinton ever considering voting for Sanders unless it was a "vote blue no matter who" situation...in which case it makes no difference whether he stood up to her or not. He should do as Saagar Enjeti suggested and bring the outspoken Gabbard on board as VP. Then they could more readily feature good cop, bad cop responses to establishment push back.

Also, Sander's failure to demonstrate a strong positon against MIC is disturbing. Listen to this analysis on Rising where Enjeti and Krystal Ball discuss what we can expect from candidates who marginalize foreign policy. In this case they are describing Warren, but the case could just as easily have been made against Sanders. If Sanders is going to win, he needs to consider these criticisms seriously.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 12:23:17 AM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to John Lawrence Ré:   New Content

I think we are closer in our thinking than we previously thought. I'll get back to you relative to this situation soon.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 3:38:47 AM

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Fred W

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I agree, Michael. At first I thought he should just say he is a "social democrat" rather than a "democratic socialist", but it seems to me he is perhaps somewhere in between, because he wants to do more in a "socialist" direction than what the first term implies. He should spell everything out more: does he want to nationalize some enterprises that are now private? Just how does he plan to treat billionaires? What will his socialized medicine consist of in terms of coverage (and non-coverage), costs, and how would it would compare in out of pocket costs and coverage to different income levels? Just what does he plan to do about those predatory institutions like pharmaceutical companies. There are all sorts of things he should explain but hasn't, or, if he has, explain it in a way that the average voter might hear about and understand.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 8:13:44 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to Fred W:   New Content

Yes, you are quite right, he needs to make clear his positions on many issues to attract more supporters.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 10:41:36 PM

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Michael Dewey

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We need Bottom Up socialism, like turning the cable-internet ripoff into Public City Utilities run sort of through Public City Banks at the Post Office. Had always thought Belgium's 50-50 Public-Private Belgium styled Bank at the Post offered many options and potential to fund things like North Dakota does to some point.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 8:54:59 PM

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Much of what Sanders advocates was not considered radical before Bill Clinton and billionaire donors redirected the party. True, the only real socialism he proposes is that the government manages a chunk of renewable energy production,as it did in the TVA. Those points he could make better. But explaining democratic socialism won't reach many voters. If he gets the nomination, the GOP with its enormous war chest is going to barrage media and the Internet with images of Venezuelan slums and maybe sprinkle in shots of Soviet gulags.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 9:03:06 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to Daniel Vasey:   New Content

He must explain democratic socialism for two reasons. To remedy the gross ignorance about it that a great many Americans possess and to fight back against the dirty, filthy smears he is going to get from Trump and his cowardly, spineless Republican puppets/robots who he has brain washed.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 10:46:35 PM

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Don Smith

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Sanders is not a democratic socialist, according to scholars including Noam Chomsky, Cornel West and Paul Krugman. He's a social democrat. And there is a difference between a social democrat and a democratic socialist. Don't try to change the meaning of words. See Bernie Sanders, please stop calling yourself a socialist. You're a social democrat!

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 10:59:53 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to Don Smith:   New Content

Well there now. Please explain the difference between the two terms both of which use same words, social and democratic. And I'm not interested in ANY individuals "opinion" but, rather, on fact. So I need a link to some article that clearly shows what each are and what the differences are.


The key thing here is not quibbling over words or terms but just to make Sander's positions very clear and totally destroy Trump's smears about he being a socialist and that the inference is that this is next to communism. That's exactly what this article is all about.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 11:38:09 PM

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Don Smith

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Reply to Michael Payne:   New Content

I included a link documenting why Bernie isn't a socialist in my original comment. See the link click here for an explanation by numerous experts of why Bernie isn't a socialist. Expert opinion by scholars is valuable!

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 12:36:43 AM

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When Sanders himself promotes democratic socialism as he defines it, it seems futile to think scholars contradicting him will have any resonance.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 9:38:24 PM

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Michael, you make good points. It is so discouraging when I see ignorant people calling the "socialist" Bernie, a communist. They don't even know the difference, let alone the difference between social democracy and socialism.

Bernie does need to shake the label of socialist if he is to be elected. It also would help him get the Democratic nomination.

One thing that troubled me in your article was equating the military with social democracy. The electorate has little if any say in how much money is allocated to defense and only a little in deciding when we go to war. The military-industrial complex controls this, and has controlled it since WW II, and it is anything but democratic.

Submitted on Thursday, Feb 13, 2020 at 11:49:21 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to Tom Calarco:   New Content

Your points are well taken. All I meant to say is that the US military, for all the reasons I put forth, is definitely a form of socialism, probably the largest of all in America.


And let me say that I fully agree with John Lawrence about the trillions spent on the military empire and endless war, one of the main reasons why nothing of substance and import is being done to address this country's plethora of serious problems.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 12:15:27 AM

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VOTE BERNIE SANDERS: RATIONAL NOT RADICAL!

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 1:31:02 AM

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RG Cunningham

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Reply to RG Cunningham:   New Content
I just sent this article to Bernie's team.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 2:28:09 AM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to RG Cunningham:   New Content

Terrific, thank you so much.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 4:08:33 PM

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Bernie's monumental mistake is that he unnecessarily calls himself a socialist. He's ok with private wealth and corporations as long as they're taxed and regulated and as long as there's a sensible social safety net, including healthcare and education. That's social democracy (New Deal liberalism). He shoots himself in the foot when he calls himself a socialist.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 1:38:47 AM

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Michael Payne

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Let's discuss this further, in greater depth tol arrive at what he must do if he is to win.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 3:41:08 AM

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Dennis Kaiser

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Socialism in the United States of America is only a weapon being falsely used against Bernie Sanders not because he is promoting better healthcare for all, free public education beyond high school, and other areas that should be human rights that are now being exploited for profits. He is not promoting nationalizing our industries and taking businesses and properties that is socialism. In reality, the real fear against Sanders is he will dismantle the gravy train that exists in our government where politicians accept bribes from these industries, thus merging our government and corporations which actually creates a fascist state leaving the individual citizens to fend for themselves as we presently have it. Sanders' Social Democracy puts the people back in the equation on things that affect them such as healthcare, social security, and education. It co-exists with corporations, as a healthy society should, it doesn't nationalize them as a Socialist government would do. Therefore, if you are against Socialism join Sanders as he is too.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 2:27:08 PM

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911TRUTH

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Bernie was on the CBS Morning Show today and was asked this exact question. Here is his answer.

Video

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 5:07:22 PM

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Fred W

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A very good short interview for Bernie, I thought! But, even so, he still seems to beat around the bush on "socialism": he says what socialism for the rich is, which is the kind we have here to great extent, which presumably he would work to modify or eliminate, and says what good programs he wants, but he still falls short of explaining how what he and most Americans want is part of "socialism" and doesn't talk about how we pay for them. Of course, in a short interview there is no way he could have covered the latter part there, especially since the interviewers didn't ask him that. I don't know: maybe I'm just nitpicking: Bernie seems to be doing pretty well talking the way he does.

Also, I thought he gave a good response to, "how will you get your programs through Congress?"

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 5:32:45 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to Fred W:   New Content

Your assessment of what he said is excellent and I very much agree. He has to meet this issue head on and dispel the notion that he is a socialist or he will pay a price. But it's a good start.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 6:17:33 PM

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911TRUTH

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Reply to Fred W:   New Content

I like that he said he won't let others define him or his agenda, but I still wish he would define 'democratic socialism' for the ignorant masses once and for all. Or define it on his website homepage.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 7:11:16 PM

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Michael Payne

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Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 7:36:08 PM

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Michael Payne

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Reply to 911TRUTH:   New Content

You are so right, he must do that, stop the stubbornness.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 7:36:13 PM

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Don Smith

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Paul Krugman just wrote another essay that explains that Sanders ain't a socialist. click here

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 8:26:11 PM

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Michael Dewey

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Reply to Don Smith:   New Content

Had DC been promoting the general and common welfare, over corporate profits at whatever the costs, we would have affordable health care and education.


Sanders talks a little of Unions and Public Banks but not enough for me. Want to see Unions workout details of setting up worker owned companies modeled after the $20 Billion a year Mondragon Cooperative of the Basque in Spain, that's owns it's own collage that trains its workers who cash in 45% of profits when they retire. Public Banks could fund buying them when Pensions are pulled from Wall Street to Public Banks. We could do a 30-30-30% worker-community and share holders set up, with them who don't want to work to do what they want with the 10%.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 11:33:56 PM

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Jim Glover

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I think Bernie is the only one so far who has a chance to beat Trump. You may be wrong in assuming that because he is a Socialist he plans on making America Socialist, Democratic Socialist or any brand of Socialism. If he did that he would not have a chance. For instance he is an Independent but has not said he wants Americans to be independent voters.

The new witch hunt of labeling Bernie and Tulsi too as Communists and Kremlin stooges will help Bernie by making him the unjustly persecuted underdog by ignorant people. And America loves the Underdog and that was how Trump won.

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 9:24:22 PM

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Don Smith

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Reply to Jim Glover:   New Content

He's not socialist!

Submitted on Friday, Feb 14, 2020 at 10:38:50 PM

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Private Citizen

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Socialism is a gateway political belief system. Back in the 1960's public school students were taught how to duck under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Students were told: NEVER NEGOTIATE WITH COMMUNISTS, only provide your name, rank and grade. Boys were allowed to open carry communist killing knives to class. No communists ever dared to attack the heartland of America when Ike was in the White House!

Submitted on Saturday, Feb 15, 2020 at 3:22:58 PM

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Becky Comstock

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"What he should be making very clear to everyone is that a democratic socialist and a full-blown socialist are not the same, not by any stretch. They share the same name or term, socialist, but they are, without question, not the same."

From the examples you've put forth Michael, Bernie Sanders is for vibrant free market capitalism, perhaps even less regulation than we have now, and no minimum wage, since apparently most Scandinavian governments share these policies. And another thing they seem to do is tax the middle class a lot. Sweden has school choice, with the government providing vouchers for students to attend private or charter schools.

Somehow I don't think Sanders would embrace any of these practices. I don't think I've ever heard him talk enthusiastically about free market capitalism, less regulation, having no minimum wage, raising taxes on the middle class, or school choice vouchers. These sound like things advocated for by the right, not the left.

So one is left to wonder. Are you really understanding Bernie's true beliefs? Do you really think Sanders would classify himself as a 'compassionate capitalist'? (This article is linked to as a supporting source by your 'worldpopulationreview' link)

Submitted on Saturday, Feb 15, 2020 at 10:51:56 PM

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