WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sought to contextualize his self-described democratic socialism on Thursday by pointing out that many of the programs Americans use today — such as unemployment insurance, Social security systems and Medicare — were considered radical when they were introduced decades ago.
Sanders widely anticipated speech explaining what democratic socialism means to him was hosted at Georgetown Universitys new Institute of Politics and Public Service at the McCourt School of Public Policy. The independent senator from Vermont was greeted with rapturous applause by students who had waited in line in the pour rain to hear his remarks.
Sanders speech invoked Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union address, in which the president described a second Bill of Right” to provide more economic security for the American people. Sanders quoted Roosevelt, who said that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous humen are not free men.
In other terms, real freedom must include economic security, Sanders said.
Channelling FDR has become somewhat of a trope in this Democratic primary. The leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, held her first rally of the 2016 race earlier this year at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on New Yorks Roosevelt Island.
Sanders noted that policies FDR advocated for, such as Social security systems, a federal minimum wages, the 40 -hour workweek, the eradication of child labor, collective bargaining, banking regulations and other measures, were derided as socialist at the time.
Against the ferocious opponent of the ruling class of his day, people he called economic royalists, Roosevelt implemented a series of programs that set millions of people back to work, took them out of poverty and restored their religion in government, Sanders told. He redefined the relationship of the federal government to the people of our country. He combated cynicism, anxiety and hopelessnes. He reinvigorated republic. He transformed the country. And that is what we have to do today.
Socialists have blamed Sanders for seeking the Democratic nomination, rather than operating as an independent. Sanders speech attempted to clarify why he’s embraced specific elements of socialism while repudiating others. Groups and individuals allied with Clinton have suggested Sanders is too liberal to be president. Clinton’s campaign began, merely in the last week, to attack Sanders’ support for universal or single-payer health care, suggesting his plan would require raising taxes on the middle class.
The senator joked that the students must be borne in mind his actual policy stances the next time you hear me attacked as a socialist, like tomorrow.
I dont believe government should own the the ways and means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families of this country who render the wealth of this country deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up and not down, he told. Im not operating for chairman because its my turning, but because its the turning of all of us to live in a nation of hope and possibility not for some , not for the few, but for all.
Transitioning into familiar aspects of his stump speech, Sanders told new investments are needed to prevent increasing income inequality. He relied on FDRs legacy to make arguments for universal health care, free public college, a $15 minimum wages, campaign finance reform, infrastructure spending, mass incarceration reform, a guarantee of paid family and medical leave, the fight against climate change, tax reform and automatic voter enrollment, beginning each argument with Democratic socialism means
If we really want to transforming our country, if we really want to rebuilding the middle class, if we really want to reinvigorating our republic, we need to develop a political movement which, once again, is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class whose avarice is destroying our nation, he told. The billionaire class cannot have it all. Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the 1 percent.
In an expected but still somewhat awkward transition, Sanders spent the last third of his speech discussing Fridays terror attacks in Paris and the United States fight against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. Sanders campaign website didnt contain a foreign policy page until September, and his rhetoric on the issue has, until the Paris attacks, focused on his vote against the Iraq War.( And Clintons vote for it .) So this segment of his speech was an acknowledgment that more Democrats may be concerned about terrorism following the Paris attacks.
Clinton outlined her own proposals for how to defeat and destroy ISIS Thursday morning. While Sanders has repudiated Clintons call for a no-fly zone in Syria, he echoed much of what Clinton said in her speech, to emphasise he believes, as she does, that Americas role in the fight against ISIS must be as part of a coalition.
A new and strong alliance of Western powers, Muslim nations, and countries like Russia must come together in a strongly coordinated route to combat ISIS, to seal the borders that fighters are currently flowing across, to share counter-terrorism intelligence, to turn off the spigot of terrorist financing, and to objective is supportive of exporting radical ideologies, he told.
Wealthy and powerful Muslim nations in the region can no longer sit on the sidelines and expect the United States to do their work for them, ” he continued. “As we develop a strongly coordinated action, we need a commitment from these countries that the fight against ISIS takes precedence over the religious and ideological differences that hamper the kind of cooperation that we urgently require.
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