Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders offered a full-throated defense of democratic socialism in a speech in Washington on Wednesday, invoking the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to call for a “21st Century Bill of Rights.”
“Over 80 years ago Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped create a government that made transformative progress in protecting the needs of working families,” Sanders told the crowd at George Washington University. “Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion.”
Sanders said his vision of democratic socialism requires “the moral conviction to choose a different path, a higher path, a path of compassion, justice and love.”
“We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights,” he said. “That is what I mean by democratic socialism.”
Many of Sanders’ proposals, including Medicare for all, free public college and a $15 minimum wage, fall under the umbrella of democratic socialism. Those policies were the centerpieces of Sanders’ 2016 campaign — he gave a similar speech in November 2015 defending democratic socialism.
Since his previous run for president, “socialism” has increased in popularity. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 37% of Americans viewed socialism favorably, an increase of two percentage points from 2016. Conversely, 47% of Democrats viewed capitalism positively, down from 56% in 2016. And while socialism was significantly less popular than capitalism and free enterprise, it was the only one of those three that increased in popularity nationally between 2016 and 2018.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gestures