Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made the case for democratic socialism in a speech to students at George Washington University on Wednesday, while he slammed President Donald Trump as an oligarch whose “empire” was built on “racial discrimination.”
Sanders praised others whom he said were democratic socialists, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he pledged as president to create a “Bill of Economic Rights” that would fulfill FDR’s vision of the New Deal.
“Eighty years ago President Roosevelt helped create a government that made transformative progress in protecting the needs of working families,” Sanders said. “Today in the second decade of the 21st century we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion.”
“Now we must take the next step forward and guarantee every man, woman, and child in our country basic economic rights,” Sanders said. “The right to quality health care; the right to as much education as one needs to succeed in our society.”
“The right to a good job that pays a living wage,” Sanders said. “The right to affordable housing. The right to a secure retirement and the right to live in a clean environment.”
Without these rights, Sanders said, Americans cannot experience “true freedom.”
In the 45-minute speech Sanders repeatedly referenced the “oligarchy” and “authoritarianism” taking place around the world and compared Trump to Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.
“Across the globe the movement toward oligarchy runs parallel to the growth of authoritarian regimes like Putin in Russia, Xi in China, Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Viktor Orban in Hungary among others,” Sanders said.
“These leaders, Sanders said, are “cracking down on human rights” of religious and racial minorities, immigrant, and the LGBT community.
“In the United States we have our own version of this movement, which is being led by President Trump and many of his Republican allies who are attempting to divide our country and attack these very same communities,” Sanders said.
Sanders defended democratic socialism as good socialism and compared it to the “corporate socialism” he said Trump embraces. Corporate socialism, Sanders said, enables insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry, the pharmaceutical industry, Wall Street, the “prison” and “military complex,” and “giant agribusiness” to a create the laws governing Americans to a “significant degree.”
Sanders’ speech included many references to income inequality and the struggle of poor people in the United States and around the globe but said that this could change through a “political revolution.”
“Millions of people get involved in the political process to reclaim our democracy by having the courage to take on the powerful corporate interests whose greed is destroying the social and economic fabric of our country,” Sanders said.
“They are just one percent,” Sanders said. “When the 99 percent stand together we can transform society.”
“These are my values and that is why I call myself a democratic socialist,” Sanders said. “At its core is a deep and abiding faith in the American people to peacefully and democratically enact the transformative change that will create shared prosperity, social equality, and true freedom for all.”
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