Presidential 2020 candidate Bernie Sanders confronted critics of his leftwing politics in a formal speech on Wednesday that sought to explain and forcefully defend democratic socialism – the economic philosophy that has shaped his decades-long political career.
Sanders, speaking to a friendly audience at George Washington University in Washington DC, presented himself as the heir to a progressive tradition championed by Franklin Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr as he argued that a wholesale “political revolution” was the only antidote to the “tyranny of oligarchs, multinational corporations, Wall Street banks and billionaires”.
“It is my very strong belief that the United States must reject that path of hatred and divisiveness – and instead find the moral conviction to choose a different path, a higher path, a path of compassion, justice and love,” Sanders said. “It is the path that I call democratic socialism.”
In his remarks, Sanders called for a “21st century economic bill of rights”, vowing to “complete the unfinished work of Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic party”. The proposal would guarantee “the right to a decent job that pays a living wage; the right to healthcare; the right to a quality education; the right to affordable housing; the right to a clean environment [and] the right to a secure retirement.”