|This is going to be very interesting. If it had been up to me, I would not have picked this fight. But here we are. This is the point that Michael Moore tried to make - a bit more colorfully - at the end of "Capitalism: A Love Story."
IOWA CITY — Police departments, fire departments and public libraries are bedrocks of American communities. But they are also “socialist institutions” and should be embraced as such, according to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
He made that assertion at an event here for his presidential campaign on Sunday, after a voter asked how he planned to defend his belief in democratic socialism from attacks by Republicans like Donald J. Trump, who recently called Mr. Sanders “a socialist-communist.” Mr. Sanders said he would soon give a speech explaining the socialist label, which some Democrats think makes him unelectable, and proceeded to give a sneak preview.
“To me, democratic socialism means democracy: It means creating a government that represents all of us, not just the wealthiest people in this country,” Mr. Sanders said.
“I will remind the American people that there are socialist programs out there that are some of the most popular programs in America,” he added, citing Social Security and Medicare, which taxpayers finance to assist older Americans and others.
Then he challenged people to see socialism at work in their neighborhoods.
“When you go to your public library, when you call your Fire Department or the Police Department, what do you think you’re calling?” Mr. Sanders said. “These are socialist institutions.”
While Mr. Sanders may have a point, he drew some blank stares from liberals in the audience who are probably used to hearing the police described with other terms. He didn’t dwell on the point, veering back to his concern about social safety nets.
“We are the only major country that doesn’t provide family and medical paid leave,” he said. “We’re the only major country that doesn’t provide health care to all people. Our tax system is extremely regressive. So — those are the issues that I will cover.”
Mr. Sanders ended by turning back to the voter who prompted his response. “I think you’re right,” he told her. “I think we have some explaining and work to do.”
A Sanders campaign spokesman said he had no details on where and when the speech would take place.