COLUMN: Bernie Sanders is not a socialist

Senator Bernie Sanders is not a Socialist. He is a Democratic Socialist. The difference of adding the word “Democratic” is important.

Calling Sen. Sanders a Socialist is like saying the United States has the same system of government as China or the ancient Roman empire.

While China and the Roman Empire were republics, the United States is separate from these countries in that it is a democratic republic. That three-syllable word is what separates the United States from China.

And it’s the same word that separates Sen. Sanders from other socialist leaders that carry negative connotations, like Joseph Stalin.

A few weeks ago, David Deming, professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma wrote, “The enthusiasm of our youth for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders is a symptom of our failure to educate them, not only in history, government and economics, but also basic morality.”

He believes that the youth’s love for Sen. Sanders was a failure of our education.

This sentiment is echoed by many across the nation, but it isn’t correct.

It is ignorant to ignore the difference between Socialism and Democratic Socialism in order to cast Sanders in a negative light. And that’s the real failure of our education.

Senator Sanders occasionally uses both terms, but as Joseph Schwartz, vice-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, notices, “He uses them interchangeably. But if you look at his history, he knows the distinction.”

Democratic socialism is form of socialism that leaves the ownership and control production, capital, land, property, etc., by the community as a whole and is combined with a Democratic government.

Here’s the first hint Sanders isn’t a socialist.He doesn’t want the government to control or regulate the means of production, distribution and exchange — the textbook definition of Socialism.

Sanders is both a Democratic Socialist and a Capitalist.

If your sole, or instinctive, reason for opposing Sen. Sanders is because “he’s a Socialist,” then your understanding of this candidate is shallow and ill-informed.

It’s the same for any label. Do you think all Republicans govern the same way? Do Democrats? If they did, we wouldn’t need two dozen debates!

Though former Secretary of State Hillary and Sen. Sanders both are both labeled “Democrats,” they disagree, as Sen. Sanders would say, “on a number of issues.” It’s similar to how, the many of the republican candidates have vastly different agendas, they are still republicans.

As another example, the differences in faith are important as well. Personally, I’m passionate about and invested in what it means to be “Christian”.

But Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, practices a version of Christianity that’s malicious, unholy and contrary to Christ’s teachings. My version of Christianity is nothing similar to his, but we’d both claim the label.

If I ran for president, I wouldn’t be the same kind of Christian that Sen. Cruz is.

People shouldn’t dismiss Bernie because they believe he’s the same kind of Socialist as Joseph Stalin.

Please, learn the difference.

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