Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez Are Not Socialists — So Why Are They Being Labeled As Such?

Both Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new Democratic nominee for Congress from New York, have in some ways described themselves as socialists. But, in fact, there is no evidence they actually are. As this election season continues look to their Republican opponents to use this label as a axe to cut deeply into their voting bloc. Senator Sanders is traveling around the country using his star power to assist other candidates in their bid for congress and also local offices. So we ask??:


What is socialism? Merriam-Webster defines it as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” If someone is going to call him or herself a socialist, then, at a minimum, he or she needs to advocate for government ownership of the means of production, i.e., industry.

One is only a socialist to the extent that he or she does this. Historically, the foundation of every socialist economy has been the nationalization of key industries. This was, of course, the case for dictatorial regimes in Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, etc.. But it also happened after World War II when the socialists took control in Great Britain. The first thing they did was to nationalize major industries, including iron, steel, coal, and health care.

So, when will Bernie or Alexandria declare an intention to nationalize General Motors, Apple, or ExxonMobil? In fact, they are not even calling for the nationalization of industries that they openly repudiate, such as coal or banking.

One might argue they are advocating socialism in health care given their overt push for a single-payer system, politically advertised as “Medicare for all.” But, in fact, neither Medicare nor other single-payer programs like Medicaid is really socialized medicine. No one is advocating for an actual government takeover of hospitals or turning doctors into government employees, as happened in Britain under the socialist government. A model for such socialized medicine here in the United States would be the Veterans Health Administration (VA) system, not Medicare. If the Sanders-Ocasio-Cortez wing of the Democratic Party really wanted socialized medicine, their cry would be “VA for all,” not “Medicare for all.”

If the self-proclaimed socialists of the Democratic Party are not socialists, what are they? First and foremost, they are unshackled welfare statists, directed by a morality that values, above all, a form of outcome-based egalitarianism. As a result, they favor all-encompassing government programs thought to minimize income inequality and the outcomes that flow from such inequalities. As we have seen, this includes a steeply progressive income-tax system, government control of payments for health-care services, tuition-free higher education, guaranteed employment, etc. But note that none of their proposed programs seeks to nationalize any industries. What they do seek is to equalize the benefits these industries provide through one or another kind of government payment scheme. While also advocating governmental responsibility for keeping our roads, bridges and public transportation updated and not allowed to deteriorate. Also while advocating for tuition-free higher education that our secondary, primary learning centers receive adequate funding.

Please as you continue to read our blogging articles we must not forget that the United States is in a global environment and we can no longer operate as a separate nation who leads the world but realize that how we functions in the 21st Century most change. The goal for that change can be debated to find solutions, but this road to that goal must be traveled.

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