So What Exactly is Social Democracy?
by Sreymich Lach
With less than a week before the start of the 2016 United States presidential primaries and caucuses, three strong contenders from the Democratic Party battle it out to win the coveted nomination. While Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley identify as Democrats, Bernie Sanders identifies as a democratic socialist….wait, what? A democratic socialist? I asked myself the same question, but after researching the who and what about Senator Sanders, I hope I can shine light on what exactly is social democracy.
Straight from the source himself, Senator Sanders explained what “a socialist” is back in 2006:
“Well, I think it means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship, all of our people have healthcare; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality childcare, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That’s all it means. And we are living in an increasingly undemocratic society in which decisions are made by people who have huge sums of money. And that’s the goal that we have to achieve.”
Even though Senator Sanders is not affiliated with any political party as he is an independent, in essence, his campaign platform heavily aligns with the views of the Democratic Party, which emphasizes the notion that the government needs to ensure that all Americans – not those in the top 1% - have access to our God-given rights, including the right to education and right to healthcare. Senator Sanders also wants the government to create an economy that works for all, not just for the billionaires. As a democratic socialist, Senator Sanders seek to correct the wrongdoing in America where the wealthiest people on top and multibillion-dollar corporations do not take the responsibility in paying their fair share of taxes, which leaves undue tax burden on the working families. Social democracy means that the economy is generating full employment, investing in infrastructures, producing jobs, and growing educational opportunities for young people.
Social democracy means that if your family is putting in more than 40 hours of work per week, your family should not be stuck in poverty. Therefore, a jack in the minimum wage to $15 per hour is crucial since doing so will improve the arduous living situations for many hard-working American families. Social democracy is attending public colleges and universities tuition free because in a highly competitive workforce, receiving a proper education is essential in cultivating the most educated workforce. In addition, a student’s incapability to pay for a college education should never be a reason why he or she chooses not to go. Social democracy is eradicating our corrupt campaign finance system and creating a move towards public funding of elections.
Despite being disparaged as a socialist, Senator Sanders has firmly stood by his democratic socialist views and plans for America if he is to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and potentially become our next president. In his November 2015 address, Sanders set the record straight on what social democracy is not about and what it is really about…
“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.
I believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America instead of shipping jobs and profits overseas.I don’t believe in special treatment for the top 1%, but I do believe in equal treatment for African-Americans who are right to proclaim the moral principle that Black Lives Matter.
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.”