Does the Democratic Party stand for socialism?
Over the last week, this issue was brought into focus by two interviews given by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-Fla), who chairs the Democratic National Committee.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats, is a self-identified socialist. Sanders is drawing widepspread support in his run for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. It was in this context that, self-identified Democrat Chris Matthews tried multiple times to ask Rep. Wasserman Schultz “What's the difference between a Democrat and a socialist?” (On HardBall, Thursday, August 6.) The DNC Chair resolutely refused to answer that question. Over the following weekend, on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd pressed Rep. Wasserman Schultz again, demanding an answer to the same question. Again, she refused to answer.
Instead of distinguishing Democrats and socialists, Rep. Wasserman Schultz insisted on distinguishing Democrats from Republicans. She was a skilled politician staying on message. But let's see, did she answer the first question implicitly, despite trying not to?
Wasserman defines Democrats as socialists
In favor of Democrats she said: “Democrats want to make sure that people have an opportunity to climb the ladder of success… have a good education, have a secure retirement.”
It's worth noting that all these goals give a large role to government intervention in the economy. Wasserman Schultz's Democratic ideal is to control economic outcomes, have government manage major issues in life, and take from the wealthy and give the loot to everyone else.
As against Republicans, her criticisms included: “extremism,” “limiting a woman's right to choose health-care,” “shifting to a more privately-focused education system” and “ending Medicare as we know it.”
The reference to limiting woman's health care choices mostly refers to the push to cut Planned Parenthood off from government funding, not restrictions on women's freedom to choose in the private market. However, there are Republican initiatives to sharply restrict doctors' rights to offer abortions in some states, and those do limit freedom as such. (The Republicans would do well to stand four-square for liberty.)
But her other two points of contrast emphasize government control of the economy again, control over schools, and control over old-age medical care.
So let's see: mostly, what makes a Democrat different from a Republican, according to Rep. Wasserman Schultz, is that Democrats want more government control over the economy.
Socialists who deny the name
Well, socialism just is the economic system in which the government controls the economy, instead of the private market. So it isn't uncharitable to understand Ms. Wasserman Schultz as knowing and saying that, in effect, her Democratic ideals are socialistic, but knowing full well that Democrats would lose the election if they accepted the label of “socialist.”
So what is the difference between Democrats and socialists? Not much! All the major Democrats, including both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, want the government to intervene heavily in the economy to reverse or prevent the outcomes that the private market would bring to pass. Their differences are of degree, not kind. Either way, socialists now dominate the Democratic Party. The Democratic leadership just won't admit it.
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