Sanders explains self-description as 'democratic socialist'

AP News
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Posted: Oct 30, 2015 9:40 PM
Sanders explains self-description as 'democratic socialist'

DERRY, N.H. (AP) — Democratic voters wondering what exactly Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders means when he calls himself a "democratic socialist" now have their answer.

At a Friday town hall in New Hampshire, a voter remarked: "I come from a generation where that's a pretty radical term — we think of socialism (with) communism. Can you explain to us exactly what that is?"

Sanders responded: "If we go to some countries, what they will have is health care for all as a right. I believe in that. They will have paid family and medical leave. I believe in that. They will have a much stronger childcare system than we have, which is affordable for working families. I believe in that.

Sanders, a longtime independent, is likely to face this question more on the campaign trail as his battle continues with Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic party's 2016 presidential nomination. He's planning a major speech to explain his definition of the phrase, which causes concern for some Democrats.

"What I mean by Democratic socialism is looking at countries in Scandinavia that have much lower rates of child poverty, that have a fairer tax system that guarantees basic necessities of life to working people," Sanders said. "Essentially what I mean by that is creating a government that works for working families, rather than the kind of government we have today which is largely owned and controlled by wealthy individuals and large corporations."

Sanders' reference to Scandinavian governments as a model for the United States drew criticism from Clinton during the first Democratic debate.

"We are not Denmark," she said. "We are the United States of America."

But Sanders isn't shying away from the comparisons.

"The truth is that countries which have had democratic socialist governments often have higher voter turnouts, more vigorous democracies," he said Friday.