The Vermont senator has never hidden his views but his proposed policies to overhaul tuition fees and healthcare have branded him a dangerous extremist and a “democratic socialist”.
Confusion also stems from the fact that Sanders uses the phrase “democratic socialist” partly to stress his belief that change must come through the ballot box, but also because, in continental Europe at least, he would probably be known as a social democrat, a label that does not easily translate to the US.
In a British context, Sanders would be hard to place too. Many of his core proposals – universal access to healthcare, paid maternity leave and a more generous minimum wage – are accepted, in principle at least, by all the main UK parties including the Conservatives, who recently put up the British minimum wage as a centerpiece of their budget.
We will have to wait for several more primary results to know whether American politics could possibly be ready for a self-avowed socialist.
Sanders fans on socialism, what is wrong with being a socialist?
I believe what people think is a socialist is: they get confused and think we’re heading towards the dreaded communism. But I think people confuse themselves about what it is Sanders is trying to do and what it is a socialist believes in. You’ll see that there’s nothing wrong. All we’re asking for is equality across the board. And to those who have privilege it may seem oppressive. And I feel that’s what people think the problem is.
- Dwayne Hamm, 23, from New Brunswick, New Jersey