Democratic Socialism for Dummies


Caroline Knight, Reporter

Ever since presidential candidate Bernie Sanders began rising in the polls, democratic socialism has become a buzzword in America. Democratic socialism is a government system based on maintaining a capitalist free market system, while operating under a strong government ‘social safety net.’ In other words, the government would control key industries, but not to the degree of a full socialist economy.

“I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal. Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy,” said Sanders during a speech at Georgetown University, according to

To create such an economy, Sanders intends to provide things such as universal health care and free public college to Americans, which makes him and his campaign appealing to young people.

“Essentially every other developed country in the world has programs that guarantee healthcare as a right to all of its citizens and at least affordable education to all of its citizens,” said Jr. Oskar Searfus.

However, such programs are only available through heavy taxation, a fact that turns others away from a democratic socialist system.

“I don’t like the fact that he wants to tax the middle and upper class more to give money to the low class or people under the ‘poverty line.’ If you work hard for your money it should be yours,” said Sr. Dylan Carlson.

Others insist that even with heavy taxation, a democratic socialist system in America is unrealistic. An analysis conducted by CNNMoney found that Sanders’ proposals could cost trillions of dollars, and that excludes his plan for universal healthcare.

“It remains to be seen how Sanders would pay for Medicare for All, which could cost more than all his other programs combined,” wrote CNNMoney senior writer Tami Luhby.

For many, filtering out the positives and negatives of a democratic socialist system remains a challenge.

“Well if it works and it improves people’s lives, that’s a positive…I think that’s the magic, the end result is attractive, but the negatives…this heavy government regulation or partial ownership of these industries may act as a break or a check on economic activity, and there might be new inefficiencies that are introduced,” said teacher David Weisfeldt.

It’s possible Sanders is popular among so many young voters because they haven’t considered such inefficiencies.

“For younger supporters who may be seeing the term for the first time it doesn’t carry any baggage, where for people over 65 who remember the cold war and the tensions that word has a problem,” said Weisfeldt.

In America, socialism is indeed seen as a dirty word, one that Sanders and his campaign have fought to make more commonplace.