Most Americans often use the terms ”Marxism” ”socialism” and ”communism” interchangeably, as if the three philosophies are the same. The basic understandings of each ‘political theory’ have been lumped together into one taboo phrase that we have dared to use in U.S. politics since McCarthyism and the “red scare” of the 1950’s.
U.S. politics have maintained the same disposition towards the “S” word, shivering in fear of identifying with its concepts, without realizing how the political philosophies of socialism have already been implemented in U.S politics for decades.
Social security, minimum wage and medicare are a few government programs that can technically be defined as socialist. According to OECD reports, if we measure socialism by the sheer volume of wealth redistribution, the U.S. consistently ranks second just behind France for western (wealthy) countries.
So why then does the right, and some leftists, fear Bernie Sanders campaign and the so called “revolution” of his rather tame socialist ideals? Will this bring his campaign to halt against Hilary? And what does it mean for the future of political climate in the United States?
To be frank, Sanders isn’t a hardcore socialist. His proposals for Canadian-style universal healthcare and subsidized higher education, wouldn’t fase European leftists. His calls to challenge Wallstreet and investment banks, implement progressive taxes, increase social security and the minimum wage are common stances of many European social democrats and U.S. democrats alike.
Despite what he says, he isn’t creating a brand new “political revolution”, but rather, he is revitalizing the political climate that once existed in the 1930’s-40’s. But he is correct that it’s the right time for this shift in political thinking and branding.
Over the past 8 years we have seen the political right become more conservative and radical, with the resurgence of the Tea Party and ultra-conservative ideals. In order to maintain a balanced government, we need a more “Socialist Democratic” party to bring equilibrium back to U.S. politics.
Sanders is the candidate to do so. His campaign, “Feel the Bern” has reinvigorated politics for youth across America. It has awakened a political disposition that has been absent for many years. And as we’ve seen above his ideas aren’t uncommon across many Democratic nations. They’re not radical. They’re different and they’re what’s needed.
Bernie Sanders isn’t a true socialist, but he is redefining socialism and what it means to be a more socialist-liberal in 2016. So when the media stops perpetuating the fear of a communist take-over and portrays his political stances more accurately, he’ll have a better chance of beating Hilary and, inevitably, Trump.