Have you ever wondered what drives Bernie Sanders? Have you ever wondered how a Democratic Socialist is drawing such large crowds in America? If this is you, you're not alone. Simply put, most people don't realize they have more of the Democratic Socialist spirit than they know.
Below is a brief primer on Democratic Socialism. Enjoy ...
While Democratic Socialists differ among themselves on many issues (just like those within any group) they are united in their opposition to unbridled capitalism.
Before you start talking about Democratic Socialists impinging on the right to make money, keep in mind that John D. Rockefeller was no fan of unbridled capitalism either. In fact - as I pointed out in my book - Rockefeller had a scathing disdain for the "waste" that it caused.
Rockefeller thought unbridled capitalism created an environment that was too cutthroat and anarchic, which didn't produce the stability necessary for making money. This is why he bought out his competitors in the late 1800s and created the monopoly that stabilized the oil markets.
No one would label Rockefeller a Democratic Socialist, which is why more people should be familiar with how Democratic Socialists see the world.
An All To Brief Overview of Democratic Socialism
Democratic Socialists believe that everyone should be free to pursue their aspirations and life dreams. Anything that blocks those aspirations undermines freedom. I'm sure many self-anointed capitalists and libertarians are probably saying, "Hey, I agree with this."
Where the capitalists and libertarians (like Rockefeller) fall off the beam is that their notion of freedom begins and ends with protecting their ability to make profits. Their vision doesn't extend to enhancing opportunities, or protecting the ability of others to earn a living wage, especially if that lifestyle cuts into profits.
This helps explain why, throughout history, free market proponents have had no problem supporting freedom-crippling conditions like slavery, sexism, racism, a lack of worker protections, homophobia, and even signed off on child labor.
Everyone of these freedom depriving conditions were readily embraced or accepted by capitalists, all in the name of freedom (theirs). These conditions were justified at one time or another by free market proponents, religious cranks, and junk scientists who all spouted long tales of tradition, culture, and the right to make money, even if it meant restricting the capacity of others to be free.
Social movements and legislation designed to protect the rights of oppressed groups became necessary because the invisible hand of the market didn't give a damn about racism and injustice in the 19th and 20th centuries. Ironically, few questioned how these state sanctioned injustices artificially boosted the chances of one group of people (white males) while guaranteeing unequal life chances for well over half of society.
This is why the state became the ally of women, people of color, and workers. In a democratic society the state is supposed to be neutral and work for everyone, not just a small clique of privileged people. This means regulating those who are prone to abusing positions of power and authority for their benefit.
All of this helps explain why Democratic Socialists don't buy into the "invisible hand" nonsense pushed by free market proponents. They know better. They know history. There are no invisible hands in world that glorifies greed.
It's why, for example, when Wall Street collapsed the economy with their large derivative bets and complex market schemes - under the guise of making money in a free market - Democratic Socialists like Bernie Sanders argued that stiffer regulations were necessary. He understands that "unfettered markets" is just a Red Herring designed to allow market players to do as they please.
So, while Democrats like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton have no problem supporting the Financial Services Modernization Act, NAFTA, the trillion dollar bailout, and the Trans Pacific Partnership under the right conditions (or with the appropriate hand wringing), Democratic Socialists like Bernie Sanders see these policies for what they are - Trojan Horses that keep the worst elements of market players going strong.
There's more - including a long and storied history of Democratic Socialism from the 19th century - but I have to go.
Addendum: For those who have friends that try and tell you Democratic Socialism is the same as what Karl Marx called for when he discussed revolutionary socialism, or communism, ask them to explain the difference between corporate Nazism and corporate cronyism first. If they don't understand the nuances between fascism and corporate welfare they have no business talking about any other "ism" because they're - if we're being honest - too stupid for the discussion.
UPDATE (8-27-15): Via Politico, we get "14 things Bernie Sanders has said about socialism."