Proclaiming the dawn of democratic socialism in America, Sen. Bernard Sanders delivered a forceful defense Tuesday of expanded government control and intervention in U.S. society, saying it’s time for government guarantees of free education, housing and a job.
Mr. Sanders said the country is facing a choice between oligarchy and his vision, which he cast as the solution to an economy that appears to be roaring, but is leaving many Americans behind.
“We now have an economy that is fundamentally broken and grotesquely unfair,” the Vermont senator said in a speech at George Washington University, blaming “unfettered capitalism” for stagnant standards of living and life expectancies among the poor.
He said right-wingers in the U.S. and beyond are using the economic chaos as an excuse for pitting Americans against each other, comparing President Trump and other populist world leaders to the rise of Naziism.
Mr. Sanders said his ideology offers an alternative.
“Choose a different path, a higher path, a path of compassion, justice and love,” he said. “And that is the path that I call democratic socialism.”
Mr. Sanders compared himself and the movement he wants to lead to President Franklin Roosevelt, who he said faced an opposition coalition of xenophobia and corporate interests who tried to stymy his New Deal program.
Mr. Sanders said he views his campaign movement as a chance to “take up the unfinished business of the New Deal.”
“Despair is not an option,” the senator said.
Where Mr. Roosevelt had his four freedoms — freedoms of religion and speech, and freedoms from fear and want — Mr. Sanders added six rights he said should be considered as fundamental as those in the Constitution.
He listed the right to “quality health care,” to “as much education as one needs to succeed,” to “a good job that pays a living wage,” to affordable housing, retirement support and a clean environment.
“Are you truly free if you are unable to go to a doctor when you are sick?” he said. “Are you truly free because you are unable to go to a college or a trade school because your family lacks the income?”
Mr. Sanders is making his second run for president, after falling short in 2016 in the Democratic primary.
In that race he was dinged for running a campaign focused on ideology, but lacking in political sophistication such as coalition-building among the mosaic minority communities that make up the Democratic Party’s coalition.
On Wednesday, Mr. Sanders insisted his economic message should be attractive to that coalition.
“Let me be absolutely clear: democratic socialism to me requires achieving political and economic freedom in every community,” he said.
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