During a Thursday night CNN town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was asked how we would confront the “socialist” label when debating Donald Trump. Sanders responded by suggesting Trump is the real socialist.
“If you’re the nominee, you’re expected to face criticism such as President Trump saying, ‘America will never be a socialist country.’ For Americans who hold this concern, whether well-founded or not, how would you successfully overcome that kind of labeling to convince them to vote for you?” asked Peter Charalambous, a student at Dartmouth College.
“In many ways Donald Trump is a socialist himself,” Sanders said. “He’s a socialist who believes in massive help to large corporations and the rich.”
It’s odd CNN would select a question asking a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist how he plans to overcome the stereotypes associated with being a socialist. Sanders outwardly embraces socialism as his policy platform and has for decades.
According to EconLib, socialism is “a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production.” While giving special government favors to connected individuals and corporations is definitely cronyistic, it’s not the same as socialism. Sanders ought to know that by now. He is in fact the one advocating for government controlling whole industries such as education and health care.
Sanders response that being a socialist is somehow negative when your name is Donald Trump is comical as well. It also cuts against his own narrative that socialism is nothing to fear.
When Sanders claims Trump is a socialist who helps the rich, he negates the fact socialism tends to benefit the politically connected even more than other political systems do, because it makes all of human life subject to political control. If enacted, Sanders’ socialist programs would mean only the rich can access high-quality goods and services, while the rest of us are stuck with DMV-level services in every sector. The very thing he claims Trump is guilty of more accurately applies to him.