Over the past decade, the economic/social/political philosophy defined as socialism has been making small strides back into the minds of Americans. In spite of those gains, a persistent and unfounded stigma still exists around the core tenants of socialism, making it a four-letter word in many parts of this Republic.
In just over a few months, Senator Sanders has helped to expand voter knowledge on what socialism is, and is actively reintroducing social democratic principles/philosophies, along with some genuinely socialistic principles/philosophies, to the American public via his Presidential campaign.
So, let us first begin by just providing a basic introduction to the two terms (social democratic initiatives and socialism), and go over some brief examples of how Senator Sanders uses them in an attempt to progress our nation past long-term issues leading to inequality and a reduction of liberty.
The main goals of socialism are to increase liberty and equality within and outside of the workplace for all people, by using sophisticated forms of democracy to achieve and justify any actions taken to achieve those goals - I cannot think of a more American philosophy.
Social democratic policies are initiatives and proposals to offer solutions to some of the problems found within a capitalist society, which have a negative impact on our communities and the human beings living within those communities. These social democratic policies are used by socialists in capitalist societies as a way to realign the society away from the inequalities and authoritarianism inherent in capitalism.
If we look at Bernie's platform, we can see an introductory path to socialism via social democratic initiatives in certain areas, such as his "Workplace Democracy Ac
t", which allows for workplaces to unionize without the real fear of being terminated. Not sure why anyone would oppose such a thing, union workers enjoy better wages, better job security, and more benefits - I know, the horror.
Socialism on the other hand, contrary to popular belief, does not mean state ownership over businesses, that is not socialism, nor has that ever been socialism's objective. Senator Sanders understands that worker-owned-enterprises (a socialistic business structure) are proven to reduce workplace inequities, raise wages for the lowest paid workers, provide a happier workplace for the laborers, and enrich the workers
and their community over the long-term. Sanders may manifest that socialistic principle he champions by ushering in microloan centers for the creation of worker-owned businesses, as they have done in Vermont, but on a national scale
. This again should not scare anyone, producing workers/owners who do not require the welfare state to subsidize their existence or labor is a great thing.
If the Senator's actions are what we judge his political alignment on, then it would be tough to ignore the numerous actions that Sanders has been pushing for decades that seek to increase equality and liberty via social democratic initiatives for all people, making him a democratic socialist. I guess if liberty, democracy, and equality scare the hell out of you, then you should fear socialism and Senator Sanders, however, if those doctrines appeal to you, then Senator Sanders may be the best candidate for you to support moving forward.