George Will on “Democratic Socialism”

Sanders’s socialism turns out to be a tweaked New Deal. He began, of course, by saying that the nation is in “a defining and pivotal moment.” Speechwriters actually get paid for such bromides; capitalist America remains a land of opportunity even for the untalented. What Sanders then offered as forward-looking socialism was a warmed-over version of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt advocated 75 years ago.

[snip]

In his 1944 State of the Union address, FDR called for rights to “useful” jobs, “good” education, “adequate” food and clothing and recreation, a “decent” living for farmers, a “decent” home, “adequate” medical care, “adequate” protection in old age. Details, such as how to define the adjectives and how to pay for what the nouns denote, were for another day. Sanders’s agenda for “completion” of FDR’s New Deal is a right to a “decent” job, “quality” health care, “complete” education, “affordable” housing, a “clean” environment, a “secure” retirement. Details later.

Sanders says “what I mean by democratic socialism” is “economic rights are human rights.” Really. That’s it. FDR said “necessitous men are not free men,” implying that government can and should remove necessity from the human story. Sanders, FDR’s unimaginative echo, presumably agrees.

Sanders loathes billionaires and loves Sweden, which has more billionaires per capita than the United States . Economist Deirdre McCloskey, writing in National Review , notes that “none of Sweden’s manufacturing or extractive industries has ever been socialized.” And “when Saab Autos began its descent into bankruptcy,” the government let it go, unlike the U.S. government bailing out General Motors and Chrysler (for a second time) after 2008. McCloskey quotes a Swedish diplomat: “In many fields, we have more private ownership compared to other European countries, and to America. About 80% of all new schools are privately run, as are the railroads and the subway system.” Sanders’s socialism turns out to be a tweaked New Deal. He began, of course, by saying that the nation is in “a defining and pivotal moment.” Speechwriters actually get paid for such bromides; capitalist America remains a land of opportunity even for the untalented. What Sanders then offered as forward-looking socialism was a warmed-over version of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt advocated 75 years ago.

[snip]

In his 1944 State of the Union address, FDR called for rights to “useful” jobs, “good” education, “adequate” food and clothing and recreation, a “decent” living for farmers, a “decent” home, “adequate” medical care, “adequate” protection in old age. Details, such as how to define the adjectives and how to pay for what the nouns denote, were for another day. Sanders’s agenda for “completion” of FDR’s New Deal is a right to a “decent” job, “quality” health care, “complete” education, “affordable” housing, a “clean” environment, a “secure” retirement. Details later.

Sanders says “what I mean by democratic socialism” is “economic rights are human rights.” Really. That’s it. FDR said “necessitous men are not free men,” implying that government can and should remove necessity from the human story. Sanders, FDR’s unimaginative echo, presumably agrees.

Washington Post