Is socialism the future of the Democratic Party?
The surprising success of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), a 74-year-old “democratic socialist,” in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries left many scratching their heads. Polls released in 2014—almost a year before Hillary Clinton even announced she was running—showed that over 75 percent of people believed that she would win the Democratic Party nomination in 2016. Thus, when Sanders announced his presidential campaign less than three weeks after Clinton, many wrote him off before he had even begun.
Bernie Sanders shocked the nation by winning 23 state primary contests, racking up a total of 1,879 delegates. What was supposed to be a preordained nomination for the darling of the Democratic Party had morphed into an actual battle.
Sanders’s success rested on the hordes of dedicated followers he amassed during the primary. Despite losing the nomination to Clinton, Sanders was still viewed favorably by over fifty percent of Americans in August 2017—higher than any other American politician, including Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Paul Ryan, and Nancy Pelosi.
The dissolution of the Sanders campaign left his volunteers and supporters, many disillusioned with the Democratic Party, searching for a new home. Many in Sanders’s legions of supporters criticized the mainstream Democratic Party for not being left-wing enough, and—with the phrase “democratic socialism” in their minds—some were drawn what they see as the natural heir to their campaign: the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
But do the New Deal Democratic politics of Bernie Sanders actually represent the belief system of the Democratic Socialists of America?
What the Vermont senator incorrectly labels “democratic socialism” is actually social democracy. Social democracies are not anti-capitalist—individuals and corporations continue to own capital as well as the means of productions—but…