- The American flag waves in the wind at the University of Denver [Photo by Palmer McGraw]
Denver, CO– November 8, 2016, will mark the 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential election which will determine who will be the 45th president of the United States. Currently Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are running neck and neck to win the Democratic nomination. However, unlike candidates in the past, Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist, a political ideology frightening to some and appealing to others.
Currently Sanders has been deemed a popular candidate especially amongst Millennials, and a recent poll found that 58% of young people would choose socialism over capitalism. However, it is unclear if Millennials, who did not live through the Cold War and witness the collapse of Soviet Russia, truly understand what Socialism is and the potential implications it could have on America’s capitalist economy.
The United States is a representative democracy, which grants the people the right to elect representatives to speak for the interests of the voters. Two major parties dominate the United States; those being the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, and both parties hold differing beliefs on tax policies, social issues, health care, labor and free trade, education, and capital punishment. Republicans are known for being capitalists, wanting less government and free trade without strict regulation; while Democrats are known as being more toward the socialist end of the spectrum, due to wanting more government control and further regulations on trade.
Capitalism as a form of government advocates for free market and free trade. On the other end of the spectrum is socialism, which is a system where all property is controlled by a small group of individuals, in this case the government. They determine what the common good will is. Democratic socialism on the other hand is more in line with the political systems seen in Europe, in countries such as Scandinavia where there is more governmental control in terms of creating financial equality, but there is a higher happiness index because their citizens are not competitively profit driven like they are in the U.S.
Sanders, a democratic socialist, has pushed for policies such as free college, single-payer health care, wealth redistribution, minimum wage increase, increased estate tax, expanding social security through tax increases, and curtailing free speech. After hearing some of these proposed policies, for a Millennial, it would be hard not to vote for Sanders, given the amount of student debt in our country. Even more distressing is the fact that many recent college graduates are knee deep in debt and finding it increasingly more difficult to find jobs. Tuition rates are getting higher and higher every year, and economists have noted the price tag is rising past the point of inflation.