Sanders made similar remarks during his first presidential campaign in 2016, when he faced questions about his decadeslong association with democratic socialists. He’s again confronting criticism from within and outside the Democratic Party during his second presidential bid, and the speech, which the campaign is billing as a major address, is an attempt to reframe the debate about his views.
But he’s doing this in a reshaped political landscape in which he’s no longer the sole progressive taking on an establishment candidate, as he was in 2016 when he battled
“We now have a president who is attacking me and others because we believe in democratic socialism,” Sanders said in a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press in which he previewed his speech. “This is a president who believes in socialism, but the difference is he believes in socialism for large corporations and the wealthy, not the working people.”
“What tomorrow is about,” he added, “is defining what democratic socialism means to me.”
Shaping those terms will be crucial if Sanders is to convince voters that his embrace of democratic socialism isn’t a barrier to winning the
Sanders is fond of noting that many of his Democratic rivals now back policies, such as “Medicare for All,” that were seen as too costly and too liberal in previous elections. But few of the other
Former Vice President
Trump and his allies have nonetheless lambasted Sanders and the rest of the Democratic field, warning against what they call the threat of creeping socialism.
In this year’s State of the Union address, Trump declared that America “will never be a socialist country.” Weeks later, when Sanders entered the race, a spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign said Sanders had “already won the debate in the Democrat primary because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism” and said Trump is the only candidate who will keep the country “free, prosperous and safe.”
On Tuesday in
“Don’t let it happen to us,” Trump warned at an
Sanders last spoke in depth about democratic socialism in
While in Tuesday’s interview Sanders promised he would be more explicit this time in describing his belief in democratic socialism, some of the themes he will discuss echo the 2015 remarks, including positioning himself as the heir of the ideals that originated with Roosevelt in 1944.
“Over 80 years ago,
As he did in his first presidential run, much of Sanders’ campaign speech is focused on promising a wholesale revolution, including a fundamental rethinking of the political system. Asked Tuesday how he would tangibly change
“What the political revolution means to me, above and beyond democratic socialism, is getting millions of people who have given up on the political process, working people and young people, to stand up and fight for their rights. So those are the profound changes that we will be bringing about,” he said.