A surging Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took his fair share of licks over longstanding expressions of support for socialism during this week’s Democratic presidential debate.
No doubt due to his early lead in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary after nearly sweeping first-to-vote Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, Sanders was attacked on all sides Tuesday night for everything from uncertainty regarding the cost of his plans to the problematic optics of running a self-professed socialist at the top of a major party ticket in the United States.
With a key South Carolina primary just days away and Super Tuesday looming large on the horizon, however, the worst of the ideological assault may not have come from the radical leftist’s Democratic peers at all, but from his critics in the political and cultural media sphere.
And chief among those critics was prominent conservative actor Tim Allen, who seemed to indirectly call Sanders out as the debate proceeded into its second act Tuesday, posting to Twitter a damning dictionary definition of socialism.
1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
2 : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
— Tim Allen (@ofctimallen) February 26, 2020
“Socialism,” Allen, wrote, quoting the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the word, “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”
The second definition provided for the term, Allen added, was “a system of society or group living in which there is no private property.”
The tweet was a smash hit, garnering more than 8,000 retweets and over 26,000 likes as of Wednesday.
Many of those engagements came from Sanders’ overwhelmingly active social media following, and carried demands that Allen also provide definitions of “democratic socialism” and “social democracy” — terms the Vermont senator has been far more likely to associate himself with in recent years.
Of course, the drastic difference between democratic socialism and social democracy was lost on many of those who commented.
Social democracy, widely used to describe the systems of government in the capitalist nations of Northern Europe, is a term for those ardently capitalist states which provide their people with expansive and progressive social safety nets.
Democratic socialism, on the other hand, is a term used to describe democratic systems in which the government maintains vast control over not only the social welfare system, but industry as well.
And there lies the crux of the problem. As Sanders will so keenly correct those who refer to him as a socialist, the Vermont senator is actually a “democratic socialist.”
The man is not a social democrat.
In fact, some social democrats want nothing to do with Sanders.
Consider that in 2015, then-Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen pointed out that Denmark, a social democracy, “is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy,” Vox reported at the time.
“A misconception, and you hearing it here tonight,is that the ideas I’m talking about are radical. Theyre not. In one form or another they exist in countries all over the world” @BernieSanders has won every contest this election, and this was OUR debate about OUR ideas #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/mzKVlg0x5o
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) February 26, 2020
The Vermont senator may have claimed Tuesday night that characterizations of himself and his policy platform as “radical” are simply a “misconception,” but no amount of deception and doublespeak will change reality.
Bernie Sanders is a radical, through and through.
In what CNN referred to last years as the “formative period” of his career, Sanders was publicly advocating the eventual nationalization — otherwise known as government seizure — of numerous major industries.
Nonprofit state ownership of everything from the energy industry to the communications sector, the banking industry to the health care sector, were on the table, according to Sanders in the 1970s — positions the senator has only refined, never outright disavowed.
And in the event one needed evidence that Sanders’ views have not changed all that much since then, look no further than this week’s Fidel Castro debacle.
Sanders landed himself in hot water over the weekend in a “60 Minutes” appearance, doubling down on decades-old claims the violent communist overthrow of Cuba was not without its benefits.
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 24, 2020
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but, you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders told Anderson Cooper. “You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”
Then again, good luck finding a violent left-wing revolutionary dictatorship Sanders hasn’t praised, folks.
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