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Bernie Sanders Hits A Home Run With Democratic Socialism Speech That Could Change America

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Doug Mills  The New York Times

If the word conjures images of communists and the Soviet Union, Sanders insisted his democratic socialism is a vibrant American tradition.

Sanders repeatedly referred to F.D.R. and claimed his policies are similar and face similar opposition from the "ruling class". He combatted cynicism, fear and despair. "He reinvigorated democracy. He transformed our country", Sanders said of Roosevelt.

"Yes, we are better off today economically than when Bush left office", he said.

He said at the time, "almost everything he proposed, nearly every program, every idea he introduced was called 'socialist.'" But he said the federal government's role in providing economic security for Americans had become "the fabric of our nation and the foundation of the middle class".

Further on in Bernie's speech, he quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of Sanders' heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

Sanders's petition asks for support for continuing "the refugee program that promises 10,000 Syrians, mostly women and children, who are escaping violence in the home country".

The socialism label has been both a scarlet letter and a badge of honor for Sanders, who has worn it defiantly throughout his career. He pushed back against that characterization.

Following the speech, Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant - a member of the Socialist Alternative Party and the second-most prominent elected socialist in the U.S. after Sanders - applauded Sanders for offering "a unique opportunity to spread socialist ideas to a new generation". It is a conservative idea. The public polling shows that the things Sanders talked about in his speech are things that people agree with and approve of - or, as Sanders worded it, are "wildly popular".

"We're gonna win because first, we're gonna explain what democratic socialism is", Sanders replied before jumping into an explanation about how he sees it as fighting income inequality and providing an equitable safety net for all. Again invoking Roosevelt and King, he argued that "true freedom does not occur without economic security". With apologies to Shakespeare, he said there's something rotten in Sander's assertions about the state of Denmark. "It is my vision today", Sanders said in a speech at Georgetown University.

In my view, it's time we had democratic socialism for working families, not just Wall Street, billionaires and large corporations. "I don't think so", Sanders said.

People are not truly free when they are unable to feed their family. He also called for a "full-employment economy" and vowed to generate jobs by rebuilding our "crumbling infrastructure". Real socialism - democratic or not - would give government control of not only the means of production, but the power to dispense capital. "But I do believe that the middle class and the working families of this country, who produce the wealth of this county deserve a decent standard of living, and that their incomes should go up, not down".

One week after ISIS-militants terrorized Paris, and just an hour after his rival for the Democratic nomination delivered a stem-winding foreign-policy address, Sanders had no choice, but to devote a substantial portion of his remarks to matters of national security. "It begins with the reflection that the failed policy decisions of the past - rushing to war, regime change in Iraq, or toppling Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or Guatemalan President Árbenz in 1954, Brazilian President Goulart in 1964, Chilean President Allende in 1973". I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will never send our sons and daughters to war under false pretense or pretenses or into dubious battles with no end in sight.

"Unilateral military action should be a last resort, not a first resort", he said.

As usual, Sanders' foreign-policy proposals weren't as detailed and deeply felt as his domestic ones. But the former secretary of state has called for curbs on "the excesses of capitalism".

In a widely anticipated speech at Georgetown University, which lasted well over an hour, the Vermont independent and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate called on his supporters to fight back against critics who paint his brand of socialism as destructive to the nation, incompatible with freedom and liberty, and inherently un-American.

 

He criticized U.S. allies in the Middle East for not spending more to fight ISIS and specifically cited reports that Qatar would spend more than $200 billion preparing for the 2022 World Cup.

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