One of the more popular comparisons of critics of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is between the brand of ‘democratic socialism’ that Sanders has espoused in his Democratic presidential campaign and Venezuelan-style socialism.
But for reasons I’ll describe below, it’s a facile and wrong-headed comparison, and it’s an insult both to Sanders and to the Venezuelan opposition that’s struggling so hard against something much more insidious than just ‘democratic socialism.’
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Sanders has looked to countries like Sweden and Denmark, arguing that the US social welfare net should look more like the Nordic social welfare net. Those are countries that, by and large, conduct free and fair elections with a firm dividing line between government and party, squeaky-clean transparency, a tradition both of consensus-building and more recently, a reformist nudge that’s tried to retool creaking social welfare system toward more competition and liberalism.
No one disputes Venezuela’s problems, which faces today probably the globe’s most painful economic crisis. They are immense.
But it didn’t get there through Scandinavian-style socialism. Or social democracy. Or democratic socialism. Continue reading The comparison between Sanders and Venezuela is misguided and facile