Bernie Sanders gave his supposedly long-awaited speech on Democratic Socialism in the United States at Georgetown this week. We are not the ones who’ve been waiting for it, but the folks at Mother Jones are pretty excited about it.
Sanders’s democratic socialism isn’t socialism. He disclaims public ownership of the means of production. Sanders’s socialism is Franklin Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights, only more so. It’s the welfare state above all, in which income and wealth are confiscated from some and redistributed to others in the interest of “equality” and “security” and all things good.
Roosevelt sought to connect the new socioeconomic rights he proclaimed to the old rights of liberty enshrined in the Constitution. Roosevelt’s so-called Second Bill of Rights alluded to the First Bill of Rights. “Instead of rights springing from the individual,” however, as Charles Kesler explains, “the New Deal reconceived individualism as springing from a new kind of rights created by the State. The new entitlement-style rights posed as personal rights, even though they effectually attached to groups[.]”
Whereas Roosevelt connected welfare rights with the Bill of Rights, Sanders connects “democratic socialism” to Roosevelt. In Sanders’s manifesto, as among Democrats generally, everything is up to date if the date is 1944. Only the animus is really of the moment.
At NR, Brendan Bordelon chronicles the annoyed reactions of Democratic insiders to Sanders’s speech. To invoke the marketing cliché, in his speech Sanders “rebrands” Democratic Party orthodoxy as “democratic socialism.” Democrats prefer the camo.
UPDATE: This just in: “Democrats, even Clinton supporters, warm to socialism.”