President Donald Trump has already attacked it. Moderate Democratic candidates warn against it, too. But in a speech Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders will lean in to his democratic socialist views, defend them, and argue that Democrats must embrace his political vision if they want to reconquer the White House next year.
“There is this belief that technocratic squishiness is the way to solve problems,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told CNN in a thinly-veiled, now familiar criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden. “Sen. Sanders is prepared to make the argument that what we need is a fighter unafraid to take on the big problems of the day and offer up real solutions to solve them.”
Sanders’ unlikely rise to the upper echelons of American politics has come with stunning speed. He began the 2016 Democratic presidential primary as a relative unknown, a Senate backbencher generally viewed — even by himself — as an outsider inside the Washington beltway. But his profile quickly rose when pitted against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, a pragmatism-preaching liberal who was ultimately defeated, in part, by Trump’s populist appeal.
Sanders entered the 2020 race offering much the same message as four years ago, but with loftier electoral expectations and a matured operation.
In an interview, Shakir conceded that the “socialism” label is one that Sanders’ opponents — both Democrats and Republicans — will continue to use in an attempt to tar his campaign, but insisted the Vermont senator has no plans to back off his fundamental argument.
“This is a fight we are excited to have,” Shakir said, denying the speech was a response to dipping poll numbers or an attempt to reboot the campaign. “We are not going to duck this charge. We plan to take it on front and center. This has always been something that (Sanders’) political opponents have used as a way to try and bring him down and despite those attacks, he has only gotten more popular.”
In excerpts from the speech provided by the campaign, Sanders will cast his version of democratic socialism as the “the unfinished business of the New Deal.”
“We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights,” Sanders will say. “This is what I mean by democratic socialism.”
Sanders also plans to use the speech to attack Wall Street, calling out the big banks and their allies in Washington as hypocrites who readily indulge in self-enriching “corporate socialism” — as seen during the bank bailouts that followed the 2008 financial crisis.
“While President Trump and his fellow oligarchs attack us for our support of democratic socialism, they don’t really oppose all forms of socialism,” Sanders will say. “They may hate democratic socialism because it benefits working people, but they absolutely love corporate socialism that enriches Trump and other billionaires.”
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