A Bernie Sanders march is like an outside political science graduate seminar.
I went to Saturday’s march to learn more about democratic socialism. And — a little bit on the fly as we looped from City Hall to the Liberty Pole and back — got plenty of thought provoking responses.
A Finnish-American couple now living in Buffalo walked me through the history of the post war European welfare state in which Sanders would be considered not a democratic socialist but a Social Democrat.
Another group argued whether democrat socialism means people vote for the economy they want. For others, the fundamental issue was locating where “the free market” fails to provide desired social goods, like health and education. One man simply defended democratic socialism by pointing to the public school system that helped build the middle class.
Heady stuff! Glad when we reached the after march party at Scotland Yard for some democratic socializing over beer and good music.
To simplify things, I asked, what would you say to a passerby on Franklin Street who wondered, “What is this Bernie Sanders democratic socialism all about? How is it different from a Democrat?”
Mary Lupien, a Sanders delegate, wrote:
If you want to know what Democratic Socialism is, think FDR. The last time we had a democratic socialist president, they had to enact term limits because the American people elected him to office 4 times!
Mary wasn’t the only one to invoke FDR and the New Deal. Others pointed to how Roosevelt’s “socialism” (although, of course, he avoided the term) advanced programs that today we take for granted.
The truth is there cannot be a democracy without socialism. We’ve been conditioned to fear the word socialism as though it is a threat to our freedom but that just isn’t so. Don’t be afraid. Democratic socialism simply means balance and equality. It means people before profit… all people.
Rather than explain democratic socialism in full depth, one woman would tell a passerby that Sanders represents the left wing of the Democratic Party. Fair enough.
Besides the party at Scotland Yard, I also went to see — as reported on Friday — whether Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright were right.
All the women I spoke with rolled their eyes at the tempest in a teapot. They came to the march to meet social democrats (boys or otherwise).
Personally, I still strongly object to Steinem referring to male Sanders supporters as boys. Tsk, tsk, Gloria.