Bernie Sanders Isn’t a Socialist

But he plays one on TV. That’s a problem.

Comments: 262

  1. It is clear what policies Sanders would pursue. It is not at all clear whether Buttigieg would or wouldn't follow through on his deficit hawk talk. To assume we do know with any certainty what the former mayor from Indiana, with jis corporate/military background, would do in the White House is wishful thinking.

  2. @LLS What is clear is that under normal circumstances President's have limited powers and limited abilities to implement policy. The best we can hope for is that under those "normal circumstances" our President conducts himself with an intellectual capacity to understand and incorporate what is in the best interests of all Americans into his Presidential endeavors. Sanders has a concerning my way or the highway approach with his announced policies in an environment that calls for just the opposite. Many of us are not yet totally sold on a Buttigieg Presidency but what is clear is that he projects an ability to listen, learn and hopefully opt on the side of involving and doing what is best for as many American's in his actions as President should he be elected. That's all I generally ask for when it comes to whoever is POTUS.

  3. @david hoeltje - Well, apparently Mayor Pete has not yet learned how the finances of the federal government work or what has happened every time we tried austerity. He has had plenty of time for that.

  4. @LLS The issue isn't what he would do in office. The issue is whether he will be elected if the nominee. If he's going to TALK about the deficit while campaigning, I have serious doubts he would be elected. Too many Democrats see the issue as being the rule of law and survival of a democratic republic. Bean counting seems oblivious.

  5. While Krugman correctly wanted more federal spending after 2008, for years he has been muttering about our "long term debt crisis." That is, until recently when his ideas have appear to be truly muddled. Tell me professor, do you agree with Keynes that we "The the time for austerity at the Treasury"? Does that mean we should be practicing "fiscal responsibility" and paying the national debt down? In fact, do you believe there is ever a time for "fiscal responsibility"?

  6. A lot of good that may do him. In the US, name calling is a gutter art-it needs little or no experience or fact-the name or insult is all that matters. A recent TV video about the 1950's and "Tailgunner" Joe McCarthy shows just how far and how destructive the use of one word can be -especially when it isn't true. The American people live in a state of mind where individuals are held responsible for what they might have said or done, what they actually did too often makes little difference. Lets see what happens when DT starts slinging the "red" mud.

  7. Krugman asks, "He probably couldn’t turn America into Denmark, and even if he could, President Trump is trying to turn us into a white nationalist autocracy like Hungary. Which would you prefer?" It might be uncomfortable to admit, but many self-professed liberals would in fact prefer the latter, if the more alternative means paying more in taxes or losing prestige in the Democratic establishment. Sad but true.

  8. @Will Don't speak for this "self-professed liberal." I never begrudge paying my taxes except when I see Trump spending millions of them on himself and his family in the guise of "work." That cooks my goose.

  9. @Will I would gladly pay more in taxes for HealthCare For All. We could also spend way less on Offense; it hasn't been Defense for a while.

  10. I challenge you to reexamine this statement. I have never met ANY liberal, leftist, Democrat in general who would favor white nationalism over higher tax rates, and your assertion that minor ideological differences equate to tacit support of autocracy are disingenuous and help nobody but 45.

  11. Social Democrats are Socialists, They are not Communists. You have flalen into the trap of conflating the two which has been the Republican line for years. In fact Socialists were among the first targets of the Soviets in Eastern Europe. Socialism was defined by one fo the founders of the Parti Socialiste in France, Jean Jaures as "the applicaiton of democracy to ethe economic sphere." At one time Social Democratic paries such at Labor in Britain advocated the nationalizaiton of the "commanding heights" of the economy. They have learned since then that this doesn't work and that Government ownership or control shoudl be of those htings it does best. Interestingly this seems to include railroads-see SNCF in France and Deutsche Bahn in Germany. Sanders is well within this tradition that comes from Marx vi Eduard Bernstein and Jean Jaures and has no room for the authoricarianism of Lenin, Stalin or Mao.

  12. @Daniel Abrams , a side note here. There is a really good documentary series that delves into the topic of government takeovers of major industries. It's called "Commanding Heights: The Battle of Ideas." It's an interesting watch for anyone who likes economic history. I think its based off a book covering the same topic, but I can't say I've read it.

  13. @Daniel Abrams Marx and Jaures, undoubtedly. Bernstein... Bernstein was closer to an American union leader like Samuel Gompers than even Bernie.

  14. @Daniel Abrams Yes and thank you. A little history goes a long way. Socialism is historically opposed to is called the “third way” or a “mixed economy” and differs fundamentally, historically speaking, from laisse faire capitalism, which exists nowhere in the world, and the failed worker State attempted by Marxist leaders, which either failed everywhere or exists in a mixed economy after all.

  15. Why do you think Bernie's programs are unattainable? Single-payer healthcare is realistic in other countries, why not here? The insurance industry and the rich are the loudest voices claiming we can't change for the better. And you writing this article is a tacit endorsement of this view. By the way, it's my understanding the goal is not to become Denmark but to improve American's lives through ensuring everyone gets their fair share of the wealth we as a country generate. Single payer health care is one step towards providing a more equal society. We the people will prevail. While I don't agree with all of Bernie's views, his view of the future best aligns with mine. Bernie Sanders in 2020!

  16. @Martin Alexander , I'm a Sanders supporter and I think it's fair to say many of his major policy goals are unattainable in the short term. But a Sanders presidency would certainly get us closer to that goal.

  17. @Martin Alexander: The single-payer healthcare in other countries is not like the one Bernie is proposing. Bernie's plan goes far beyond what single payer countries have. It pays for everything from dollar one. Other countries with universal care pay about 80% +/- of all healthcare costs with public funds, with the remainder paid by the patient and/or a supplemental insurance policy. Some commenters will write that that isn't true, but one has to only use the Google machine to see that it is. Canada's public system pays more like 70% or all healthcare costs, for instance. Canada's public system does not pay for all dental care, vision care, limb prostheses, wheelchairs, prescription medication, podiatry and chiropractics and ambulances. Canada’s provincial and federal health insurance covers standard ward hospital accommodations (four beds to a room) through Canada’s Medicare program. A private room or semi-private room will cost you or your insurer $200 to $300 a day. All personal and nursing care provided by long-term care homes in Ontario for instance are funded by the government. You must pay for accommodation charges such as room and board, varying from $1,900 for basic, to $2,700 for private rooms. Bernie's plan covers all of everything above. European countries have several systems, not just single-payer, but they all cover about 80% =/-, not 100%.

  18. @Martin Alexander This piece is red-baiting for the left, far subtler than any propaganda you'll find on the right, but propaganda nonetheless, dressed up as an endorsement of sorts of Sanders' planks in general terms. Americans need to stop and think about the sheer range of rights they've given up on the promise to participate more fairly in an increasingly rigged economy. Bait and switch politics has always worked in America, until now, maybe, finally.

  19. Krugman writes: "The point is that whoever gets the nomination, Democrats need to build as broad a coalition as possible." But Paul, look at the polling data on the coalitions for each of the candidates. You'll find that Sanders' supporters are in fact one of the most diverse coalitions of any of the Democratic candidates, with the (possible) exception of Biden (and we'll see how well Biden does among African Americans in South Carolina after his dismal performance in Iowa and New Hampshire). So, why the framing? Why are you assuming, a priori, that Sanders does NOT have a diverse coalition, when for months, all of the readily available polling has shown the exact opposite? Do you see know why many people, on both sides of the aisle, have really big problems with the inherent biases of the mainstream media? It's obviously taken to a ridiculous extreme by the right-wing, but it is also honestly not an argument without merit. You all need to do better about checking your basic facts and assumptions before you publish.

  20. @Ex-pat "You'll find that Sanders' supporters are in fact one of the most diverse coalitions of any of the Democratic candidates." Diversity isn't what Krugman is talking about. The object of the next election campaign has to be to gather in a mass of independent voters, and enough disaffected Republican voters, in swing states to beat Trump, and tossing around words like "socialist" ain't gonna do it. That's Krugman's point and I agree. If Sanders becomes the nominee, I of course will vote for him. Can you say the same if he isn't the nominee?

  21. @Ralph Averill Exactly wrong. Polls show that Sanders does well not only with independent voters, but in attracting people who have not voted, thus expanding the electorate. He also is anti-establishment and can attract those working class Trump supporters who realize that Trump lied to them. This is the "coalition" for victory Krugman suggests.

  22. @Bill Wolfe Maybe. I will vote for Sanders wholeheartedly if he is the nominee. But, every statistic I've seen so far shows that Obama-Trump voters, for example, are still strongly in favor of Trump - they scarcely break ranks for Sanders at all, and he's not a newcomer at this point. He's one of the most widely known politicians we have, and his speeches are pretty consistent. No, the voters Krugman is talking about are moderates, educated suburban-types who would vote either Republican or Democrat, maybe they even think of themselves as conservatives but do have some liberal views and can't stomach Trump. Those are the voters who led the swing to the Democratic victories in the midterms. And what we've seen so far in the two caucus/primary contests is that there has yet to be a surge in the electorate for Sanders - he is slightly underperforming his polls, in fact, and there is no major increase in turnout. It's a reasonable question whether or not Sanders can pull together a winning coalition (winning on the national stage, not just amongst the politically engaged people who vote in party primaries). If he's the nominee, I sure hope he can do it. But it will take a major surge in the youth vote coupled with a lack of enthusiasm for Trump - Trump voters are still mostly for him. It's the reluctant ones we need to get on board.

  23. Prof K, you spent most of your column with a rather unconvincing rumination whether Bernie Sanders should call himself a socialist or not, ignoring that all Social Democrat parties are outspoken about their socialists roots. You spent less paragraphs talking about Buttigieg's disturbing pro austerity stance, but thanks for the effort. Anyway, you spent no space at all raising any point about Bloomberg at all, despite naming him as a frontrunner (you didn't mention one hot winder Klobuchar, but imo rightly so). Why does the billionaire and former New York City mayor get away so easy? It sure can't be that there isn't any well reasoned criticism of his economic and political stances. In the interest of fairness, you shouldn't exclude him from scrutiny.

  24. @Gray Goods - I agree. Bloomberg advocates significantly paying down the national debt despite the fact that all 6 time we have tried it, we have fallen into a terrible depression. In fact, we have only had 6 depression. Bloomberg has famously said that Medicare for All "would bankrupt us for a very long time." First of all, the CBO said we spent $3.65 TRILLION on healthcare in 2018. Long term medical inflation has been running at 5.25%. A simple computation says that the cost of healthcare for the next 10 years would be over $50 TRILLION if nothing changes. There have been several estimates of the cost of Bernie's plan, from the liberal Urban Institute thru the economists at UMASS to the very conservative Koch funded Mercatus Institute. None of them were as high as $35 TRILLION. If Bernie's plan would bankrupt us, what would not making a change (let alone ADDING a public option) do? If he means that Medicare for All would bankrupt the federal government, he should wash out his mouth with soap. The federal government can never run out of money. He should learn about fiat money. I will vote for the Democratic candidate even if it is Attila the Hun. I am beginning to think I may prefer Atilla to Mike.

  25. Of course, Bernie isn't a "Socialist". Perhaps he could be called a Social Democrat. Or perhaps, he could be called an FDR Democrat, from what used to be knows as 'The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party". You know, that party that, before Third Wave triangulation, used to believe quite strongly in an expanded social safety net (and programs like Head Start), powerful unions to balance corporate influence, regulatory structures with teeth in them, and, perhaps most relevant of all in the current climate, campaign finance reform and the Fairness Doctrine. The fact that large segments of the Democratic Party are starting to come back around to those ideas makes Sanders more of a Throwback Thursday than a Future to be Feared. But unfortunately too many segments of the Democratic party like their privilege just find and their oligarchs still with influence out of proportion to their numbers. This isn't to say that Medicare for All and completely publicly funded elections would happen overnight if he was elected--there are still many opinions in the Big Tent party that would have a say, and there are those pesky Republican reactionaries. But to act as if Bernie's election is the Big Red Apocalypse, especially given the Orange one we're heading towards, is ludicrous. But, then again, no one has ever lost money betting against the intelligence of the American people . . .

  26. There isn’t a Democratic candidate who doesn’t want to expand the social safety net and enact campaign finance reform. I think we should reject the false narrative that Sanders’ competitors are corporate stooges (or Republicans lite) just as we reject the hysteria about socialism. We would make progress under any Democratic administration. The important thing is that we support the Democratic nominee, whoever that is.

  27. @Glenn Ribotsky I am continually mystified by the comparisons between Sanders and FDR. FDR did not run on an unusually progressive or aggressive agenda - he was an extremely rich person with political family name recognition who employed fairly genial, broad, non-specific approach to policy. He was aided of course by the fact that Americans blamed the Great Depression on Hoover. Because of that, he just had to not fail, and only presented a sort of vague, hinted-at version of the New Deal in campaigning, the upshot of which was just that the government should step in to help people (a fairly standard Democratic stance). His most progressive policies came after he was elected, largely due to the influence of a more visionary and liberal Congress, as Democrats had a large majority in both houses. FDR did not run a campaign that looked anything like Sanders', and his biggest accomplishments were really accomplishments of Congress. Not to say that he was unimportant - of course he supported those policies, but nothing substantial gets done without Congress.

  28. @Glenn Ribotsky: I don't know any Democrats who don't believe in "expanded social safety net (and programs like Head Start), powerful unions to balance corporate influence, regulatory structures with teeth in them, and, perhaps most relevant of all in the current climate, campaign finance reform and the Fairness Doctrine." Hillary Clinton ran on a very progressive platform, but it wasn't good enough for the the Bernie or busters, Jill Stein voters, and "progressives" who were too pure to vote for her. The danger isn't that Bernie will be elected. He's not going to get most of his proposals through Congress if he is elected. The danger is that he gets the nomination promising everything and loses: free healthcare for all, free public college for all; free universal preschool and child care; forgiveness of all student debt; guaranteeing every American a federal job paying at least $15/hour + benefits; $16.3 trillion for climate change; guaranteed $65,000 for all public school teachers; etc., etc. All of these are good ideas to some extent, but they are going to give Repubs and Russians a lot to work with. Bernie takes a good idea, say single-payer, and makes it far more generous that what any country in the world has. Public Health systems in other countries pay 80% +/-; Bernie pays 100% of every healthcare need. Same with tuition and student debt. When anyone is critical of Bernie's proposals, he and some of his follows get indignant. I don't think Bernie is electable.

  29. Trump will brand ANY Democratic nominee as a socialist. Sanders does less damage to himself by embracing it than by running away from it. Then he can seize the opportunity to explain exactly what it means to him.

  30. @Jason Almost no one who is not on Medicare understands how it works, which is partly why 'Medicare-for-all' is so confusing. In general, Medicare pays 80% of healthcare costs for those over 65. If a person chooses A (hospital) & B (out-patient), an amount is deducted from SS each month; if you choose A only, a smaller amount is deducted. There are supplementary plans from private insurance (at various prices) to pick up the 20% Medicare doesn't pay. That supplement determines how much out-of-pocket the patient pays; if you like co-pays at each visit, or want the insurance to pay it all, the price will be different for each choice. I doubt if Sanders' plan will put any insurance companies out of business. Anyone who can afford to add to the basic insurance will do so, just like they do now under the ACA. The only thing Trump really hates about ACA is that it an Obama accomplishment; if he could kill it and bring it back as 'Trumpcare' he'd crow and strut for a week. Just like he did with NAFTA.

  31. @Jason Hillary was not "branded" as a socialist. If she was referred to that way, it didn't stick. Also, even if he tries, the large majority of independents and moderate Republican's won't buy that a Bloomberg or Klobuchar is a socialist. Sanders and Warren damage themselves by supporting a plan, that according to Warren, will initially put about 2 million people out of work. When lots of folks get put out of work, it's almost always the folks who have the hardest time getting new jobs.

  32. Indeed, our founding documents refer to promotion of the General Welfare and we were created in the spirit of "Social Democracy" and have celebrated ourselves for over two centuries as such, claiming to be the Light of the World, because we idealized the Common Good.

  33. He tries to explain that he's a "democratic socialist" but his platform is more radical than FDR's ever was. He is proposing complete government takeover of healthcare and education. He is asking Americans to say, you know what? We had that revolution and created this country and its free market as an experiment. But it isn't working. So let's scrap it, hand over almost everything to our government to manage. Even if some of us would be fine with that, the majority won't. Worse, he continues to dismiss the strides Obama made with the ACA. How does he think he can do what Obama couldn't? There is no explaining it any other way. He is a socialist and if he is the nominee everyone knows going in that we'll lose to Trump.

  34. @Sasha Stone Can you quote some sources for your assertions of a "complete government takeover"? Is Medicare a "complete takeover" of the health care system for those aged over 65? My impression was that the health care system funded by Medicare is privately operated.

  35. @Sasha Stone - Here are the rights FDR wanted for All Americans: "The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or mines of the nation. "The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation. "The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living. "The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad. "The right of every family to a decent home. "The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. "The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment. "The right to a good education." Now tell me again that Bernie is more radical than FDR.

  36. @Sasha Stone If you actually read Sanders' proposals he calls for nothing of the sort. His education platform only calls for a moratorium on public funds being sunk into ineffective charter schools and forcing them to comply to accreditation. He actually aims to make charter schools better by democratizing their administration and placing teachers and parents in positions on charter school boards, making them more accountable to stakeholders instead of profiteers. I highly recommend looking at his Thurgood Marshall plan for public education; its all commonsense material. Sanders also leaves the private higher-education infrastructure totally intact and actually advocates investing money in private HBCUs. It's hardly a government takeover.

  37. I believe the Bernie camp is prepared to win the messaging game surrounding the Socialism hysteria. What we want: medicare, college and housing for all. What we have: corporate tax breaks, grants, policy agendas. Democratic, not corporate, socialism is what's on the table in 2020.

  38. @jessbro "What we want: medicare, college and housing for all." Does that mean all of this would be 'free'? Who will pay and how much will it cost? Are you OK with bankrupting America and causing massive social upheaval? Because that's what you'll get if all this stuff is 'free'. There isn't enough wealth in the top 5% to pay all this so it will fall on the middle class who will revolt rather pay the huge taxes necessary to pay for those deemed worthy to get all this stuff for 'free'.

  39. @jessbro You don't get any of what you want without consensus, and creating that is definitely not Sanders' strong suit.

  40. @new conservative I'll leave it up to someone like Paul Krugman to calculate how much of the burden for paying for "Medicare for all who want it" and "publicly funded community college for all who want it " would fall on the top 0.1, 1.0, 5.0 and 10.0% and the bottom 90.0% - but with respect to paying for the former, at this stage I'm backing that the bottom 90% would be financially better off. Progressively as you move up the income scale in that group, people would be paying more tax, but it would be less than what they are currently paying out of their after-tax take home pay - and with a lot less hassle and anxiety. It would also relieve the burden on small businesses of the cost of selecting an insurance provider, and promote greater movement of workers to other, perhaps higher paying, employers or to start a small business themselves. Hence - along with "free" community college - it would encourage greater social mobility, raising incomes, US GDP and tax receipts by the US treasury. There might even be some "trickle-up" in the form of higher profits for businesses and earnings for high earners, compensating them somewhat for paying more tax, you never know. But hey it's not like I'm Joe Stiglitz or something, what would I know really?

  41. As usual, well-put Professor Krugman. While universal access to healthcare is the goal, the way to afford it is to get rid of the profits enjoyed by quacks, insurers, pharma, and monopolistic rents by hospitals and medical specialists. Medicare for All could do this, but it's time has not yet came. The Biden/Buttigieg plans don't eliminate the private insurers' profits for trash policies that the "I'll stay healthy" people wish to purchase and create additional costs for any "Medicare by choice" plan that they propose. As usual, we're being played by appeals to greed. Warren's (revised from Sanders') plan works, as might where Klobuchar is going. The NYT is correct--it should be either Amy or Liz. They understand the system and how they could change it.

  42. @beaujames : the point here is that we all need to VOTE for the Democratic nominee no matter who he or she is.

  43. @RLiss, I agree completely. That said, I also have my preferences and feel free to advocate for them, as long as we all accept your point up front.

  44. @beaujames I'll respectfully disagree. Warren's approach is unrealistic despite its well intentions. Her Medicare for All strategy basically relies on creating a Medicare-by-Choice plan in her first year, coupled with the many potential flaws a simple public option has, then waiting until at least year 3 to pass comprehensive single payer healthcare. Marshaling the political capital in congress to pass one major health bill, even by taking advantage of budget reconciliation, will be a herculean task. She then aims pass another, more sweeping health bill after the mid-terms when presidents historically lose seats. Accomplishing both is a borderline nonstarter and practically means an abdication of the vision. Sanders, by contrast, bakes his transition and full plan into one package and commits the country to the course. Further still, he's willing to mobilize grassroots activism to pressure legislatures to help make that a reality. The system is effectively broken, and working exclusively within that system will only produce the same results. We need someone like Sanders who's willing to fight the system rather than change it from within. Progressives have been waiting decades for comprehensive healthcare, only to be told at each turn that "its time isn't here yet." If now is in fact not the time, it never will be.

  45. Wow! This is the most level-headed opinion piece I've seen about what the Democrats should be doing and thinking now. Thank you so much for de-demonizing Bernie!

  46. "Just to be clear, if Sanders is indeed the nominee, the Democratic Party should give him its wholehearted support." I agree, and I am relieved that Mr. Krugman points out the difference between socialism and the so-called democratic socialism that Bernie Sanders embraces. I think Bernie clings to this label partly out of stubbornness and partly because he has for so long, he probably doesn't want to come across as disingenous by abandoning this label. Plus there's the aspect of using this label as an educational tool. Maybe it is too early for some to accept the types of changes Bernie proposes, but the shift that has taken place just in the past four years means people's perspectives are changing. And like Warren has said essentially (I can't remember her wording), you've got to think big because you're not going to get everything you ask for. I think Bernie Sander's policies would be great for America, but I know I will vote for the democratic nominee because getting Trump out of office is top priority. And I do hope the DNC will visibly support whoever the nominee is, and that means Bernie, too, should he come out ahead, and not just the moderates.

  47. I know "electability" is in the eye of the beholder. But Sanders supporters, please stop saying "the polls show Bernie beating Trump." Current polls are meaningless. Polls in February of an election year NEVER predict the outcome in November. Socialism remains unpopular with the majority of voters. Sanders has never had to face a barrage of Republican negative ads, but they will come in due time if he's the nominee. And the Republicans won't treat him with kid gloves the way his Democratic rivals always have. That's why the Republicans REALLY want to run against him. They are praying that the Democrats nominate the "Socialist from Vermont."

  48. @Harlemboy So Sander's supporters can't claim he's electable because of polls, but his opponents can claims he's not based on nothing? Everyone's gut feeling was that Hillary was the more electable candidate last time. In fact, that was pretty much the only argument given in her favor. How'd that turn out?

  49. @KM Hillary lost by razor thin margins. Bernie will lose in landslide to a right win populist (Trump) as all left wing populists have in the past 5 years.

  50. I think the more Sanders is allowed to broadcast his democratic socialist vision for America, the better. He could say, who would you be if you never needed to worry about healthcare costs again? What would you do if you had no student loan debt? His message of solidarity, of fighting for someone you don't know, is clearly resonating. And as an aside - Republicans would call Bloomberg a socialist if he was the nominee.

  51. I don't understand the extreme sensitivity of these putative Sanders supporters. This op-ed is a positive reflection on him. It raises my suspicions that some of these folks may not be genuine Sanders supporters. They may be trying to make Sanders look more extremist by propagating the 'Bernie Bros' myth. As to the article, I agree wholeheartedly with the general point that the race needs to be about the corruption of the Republican Party.

  52. Republicans: Government reimburses 65 year old for healthcare expenses incurred at a private clinic--Medicare--They support it 100% (until after the next election). Government reimburses 64 year old for healthcare expenses incurred at a private clinic--"Socialism" Government pays education expenses for student in 12th grade--100% support it (until after the next election) Government pays education expenses for student in 13th grade--"Socialism" Does that help explain what "Socialism" is?

  53. @Roger That definition may be enough for someone who wants information digested and fed to him (like FAUX viewers), but it is a vast oversimplification, and does not explain what 'socialism' is.

  54. As anyone who is the undeserved recipient of a derogatory descriptor knows, the most effective way to neutralize the word is to 'take it back' and make it your own. Wear it as a badge of honor. Republicans will call any Democrat a socialist. They did this to Obama as he fought to enact Romney's vision of healthcare, for example. So yeah, let's just take the word back and turn it to a positive. Let's say, 'Yeah, we're socialists and here is what the means.' That's what Bernie is doing and it's going to work. If being a socialist means that the middle class actually gets something back from the taxes they pay - healthcare, college, green new deal, $15 minimum wage, childcare - then maybe being a 'socialist' isn't so bad. And just to put a finer point on it, Denmark is a Social-Democracy and Bernie actually calls himself a Democratic-Socialist, which are interchangeable terms.

  55. @Dave Bernie also does a good job of reminding his audiences that Trump, the plutocrats and their corporations have their own version of socialism running quite nicely--where they collect the tax revenues and decide to spend them, while THEY enjoy their tax cuts. Plutocrat socialism--don't leave office without it.

  56. @Dave That would be fine if the majority of democrats were on board with Bernie's version of "socialism", but they're not. Even if we could skip the election and snap our fingers to put Bernie in the white house I don't think every democrat in the house and senate would vote for medicare for all. There is some good evidence that it would absolutely be more efficient than what we have now, but I don't see how we're going to get there in our democratic system any time soon. Is it worth giving Trump four more years just to say our ideology was the best? That's what scares me about Bernie, he is happy to be a lifetime politician with no accomplishments who goes home to VT to brag about his ideological purity. That's not the kind of president we should want even if we do agree with some of his positions.

  57. @E B It is always better in any negotiation to come from a place of strength - not weakness. If you start by saying, "Listen, I know you've already won, so I'm going to start from a point of compromise." Then you are just going to end up with an even more further compromised result. And as Democrats we keep doing this - we keep acting reasonably and then we let the Republicans run circles around out because they will act that the sky is falling no matter what is proposed! So let's at least ask for something worthwhile! If we have to compromise, we'll cross that road when we get there - but there is no point in compromising in advance. It's a sure-fire way to never make any progress.

  58. We'll never be Denmark. We'll never be Venezuela. We'll never be Russia. We will always be the USA. Chicago will always have its graft, Seattle will have the rain, Florida will have its beaches and its omnipresent, eponymous Florida Man. The choice we are making is not to go back in time to Russia in 1939, or to the future of Venezuela in 2030, or to present-day Sweden. We are making a choice to use our budget to prioritize social good and individual life, over the generation of capital--or not. That's it. Comparisons to other countries can provide caution, such as "Don't elect autocrats because that's the last election you'll have" or "If you have a shared goal as a nation you'll do better than if you don't." Also, I'm pretty sure--based on the policies he advocates--that Sanders is using socialist in the Marxist sense, i.e. not communist, so not centrally planned. Policy-wise he is a social democrat.

  59. @L Interesting how in real life we always copy and try to improve on the best quality products we can find but in political life it’s thought to be somehow beneath us to emulate other countries. There are much fairer and healthier governmental systems out there and we don’t have time to slowly evolve our own version. If progressives get the reins we need to reproduce the best ideas on the planet fast. Then we can work effectively.

  60. @L "Seattle will have the rain" always? The same used to be said of Portland, and it's behind on precipitation compared with decadal averages since record started being kept.

  61. @L Florida's beaches plus sea level rise ... not looking quite so good. Seattle and the rain ... for 6 months of the year, it is and always has been the 5th driest metropolitan area in the country. Chicago's graft hardly belongs to it alone - graft is a feature of large, older cities around the world (and other places too). So ... careful with what you think you know! Maybe the USA really could be Denmark after all. Just with better donuts, higher mountains and the Fed!

  62. The word "socialism" is a four-letter word in America. It agitates people left and right for different reasons but in the end, it serves to polarize people into camps that strangle any hope of civil discourse about what it truly means. Forget even trying to explain the social democracies of places like Denmark. Trump and his team will vilify Sanders, while hoisting images of the old Soviet Union, Cuba and even Venezuela. They will find texts, statements, images, videos and audio of Sanders applauding the Soviet Union or some other state that lived or continue to live under true oppressive socialist states like Venezuela. Or they'll create it. Yep, they'll make it up. Anyway you slice it, they'll bombard social media outlets and leverage their relationship with Fox to smear Bernie into history's archive. And the landslide that Trump will win by will make McGovern's loss in 1972 look like child's play. I bet the Doomsday clock is ticking even closer to midnight now.

  63. Poll after poll has shown that the American people want Medicare for All. It is only when scary adjectives are thrown in that some of them hesitate. The following poll was came out on January 30 and is the first one that came up when I googled "Medicare for All poll." It is consistent with everything else I have seen. Of course, the word "socialist" means many different things to different people. Therefore, any poll about the popularity of socialism is completely meaningless. Its the details that matter and most families who know someone who has been denied health care coverage after decades of paying for medical insurance do not trust the private sector handling their insurance coverage. The American people know they are being ripped off. As Thomas Edison once said: "theory is bunk." The same is true with ideology. We need to look at the details instead of the labels.

  64. Thank you, Dr. Krugman. "He doesn’t want to nationalize our major industries and replace markets with central planning." This line in particular should be emphasized over and over again for those who rush to call Bernie a socialist without knowing what the term 'socialism' really means. Personally, his economic proposals are to the left of what I would prefer. But they are not outrageous (developed nations all over the Western world have implemented some version of those, especially in healthcare and education), they are not socialism, and they are *far* better than the voodoo economics being practiced by the Republicans today.

  65. @Santa I think NYT Neoliberal/Conservative columnist David Brooks used the same McCarthy-ite framing as Krugman.

  66. @Bill Wolfe Actually Bernie was in favor of nationalizing some industries when he was younger.

  67. Thank you for writing this, Dr. Krugman! I believe that Sanders is an opportunity to return to New Deal liberalism, something we have desperately needed since the repeal of Glass-Steagal. Although I support Sanders and Warren most among the Democratic candidates, what matters is that we come together to defeat Trump in November.

  68. The Republicans will call any of the Democratic candidates, even Bloomberg, a socialist, so Bernie is not uniquely vulnerable in this regard. As he's already done, he can frame the general election as a contest between socialists: Trump, who favors socialism only for the very rich, and Sanders, who supports socialism for the rest of us. He will proudly defend social security, medicare, and medicaid as socialist programs, and he'll win.

  69. "Just to be clear, if Sanders is indeed the nominee, the Democratic Party should give him its wholehearted support." Not very clear, but I'll take that as an endorsement of Sen. Sanders.

  70. @ExPDXer no, it's not. Krugman says that same line about each of the Democratic candidates. He's trying to make a point what the word "Socialism" means to many people and that actually Bernie Sanders is not a bonafide "Socialist" at all. That being said, Krugman points out the the Grand Old Party are making it a fear mongering point as in "Red scare" tactics.

  71. Finally! Somebody says it! That $15 minimum wage and a (still to be figured out) plan for extending medicare is not Socialism. But apparently saying so wins (some) votes. It is a gigantic distraction and it muddies the waters of the nomination process with what is nothing more than a catch phrase. But, yes, without appeals to "socialism", "revolution", and "down with the capitalists", Sanders would not be where he is today.

  72. "He (Sanders) probably couldn’t turn America into Denmark, and even if he could..." I think that Bernie should stop those false analogies with Denmark. Relative to their respective populations, Denmark and America share the same PERCENTAGE (not number) of billionaires. And Danish are very nice, polite and tolerant people, unlike many of those who support Bernie, particularly the so called Bros.

  73. @Gian Piero Messi, the fact that billionaires are still very possible in a social democracy should give you ease about moving to a social democratic system, right? So we should do single payer and expand the safety net, right? Clearly those programs do little to hurt wealth building.

  74. @Chris Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark, aged 41, is nice and doesn't yell at billionaires every day as Bernie does. I think that she is a lot more embracing of her country's citizens than Bernie is here. Not all social democracies are the same.

  75. The population of Denmark, the entire nation, is around 6-million. That's less than the population of Bernie's hometown. Love Scandinavia for its fjords, mountains and social liberalism all you want, but we can not import it's social programs like we do havarti cheese. It is simply not going to work. No amount of magical thinking is going to shut down the entire system of American private insurance companies we currently have, at least not in the short term. We've barely been able to cling to the ACA as it is. The Trump team is salivating at creating the TV commercials that will crush Mr. Sanders; ones that highlight his socialist bona fides and scare off moderate Democrats, wavering Republicans and many independents.

  76. @Clyde Maybe look at Switzerland instead of Denmark. Switzerland has Private insurance and Mandatory Basic Insurance and is a Social Democracy with Capitalism woven into it. By the way, it is the No.1 Country in the world in regards to Competitiveness and Quality of Life. Not many fjords but lost of mountains Swiss Raclette cheese and chocolate. It has a dual track education system Apprenticeships/University which is a hot topic right now in the USA, thanks to the Swiss and the visits by US Educators, and its Universities are top notch MIT caliber/or better. So think Swiss and not Sweden which by the way is not the same thing. Republicans can't attack Switzerland as much either because they may have Bank Accounts hidden from the IRS. :)

  77. Denmark has such a small tax base. Imagine what we could do with our much larger tax base. It’s hard to be a social democracy when you are a small country! (The size argument cuts both ways.)

  78. @Clyde Social democracy is not limited to Denmark, it plays a significant role in all Western Europe: Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Finland. Of course, all these countries have their own economic issues. But the overall living standard of the masses of the population is comparable to the living standard in the US. Life is certainly less stressful over here.

  79. "And now the front-runner ... — is someone who plays right into that strategy, by declaring that he is indeed a socialist." This is the problem. Voters are not that interested, nor sophisticated. They just want to vote for someone whom they feel comfortable with. Why should they vote for an old man who often screams and wants to destroy the rich - socialists want to make everybody poor. Besides, "Me or my children may get rich." 'Trump maybe a bit crude. But at least I'm not doing any worse. My neighbors aren't doing badly. Most who want a job have it. Even if not all of it are from Trump's policies, some must be. I'm sticking with the president'. Bernie is a problem for Democrats. His high poll numbers are are hardly good. We will be better off if we coalesce around Mayor Pete & Amy Klobuchar. Either one at top & the other as the running mate will be a winning combination. They may not be the perfect combination but more than good enough. I'm sufficiently certain they can beat Trump. Since Hillary Clinton lost to Trump in 2016, a woman in the ticket will be quite attractive.

  80. @A.G. - Sure a woman might be quite attractive, but will another centrist?

  81. @A.G. That hardly makes sense - running another woman on the premise that the last one lost. We're more likely to repeat history than not.

  82. @dennis tinucci Many people, both men and women didn't vote for Hillary Clinton because she didn't excite them; further they thought she was a shoe-in and didn't bother to vote. When she lost, they were not happy. In CA many may have gone to vote for her in droves when they found out she lost (I'm not too sure about this), a reason for her 3 million vote-margin over Trump. The huge pink hat march all over the country on the day of Trump inauguration was at least partly because Clinton lost. So if a woman is on the ticket, that'll be big incentive for women to vote. I don't mean to say any woman would be enough. The principal factor is the person's quality - would this person make a good president? Both presidential & VP candidates have to meet that criteria. Only then other factors like gender, etc., would matter.

  83. There is no evidence that the label "socialism" is as toxic as Krugman et al. are claiming. All the evidence says the opposite. In 2008 McCain calling Obama a socialist cemented Obama's lead in the national polls. Socialism is popular among young people. If Sanders can draw that segment of the population to the polls, he'll definitely win in 2020.

  84. @John I hope you are right, John. I'd like to believe you are.

  85. @John Socialism may not be toxic to many educated people. But to the vast majority of Americans it's still a toxic word/concept. Explaining may not help, will be seen as excuses.

  86. Well Paul, as a longtime Sanders supporter, I have to agree with you that Sanders needs to de-weaponize the "socialist" tag. His supporters know what a Democratic Socialist is, but it's not his supporters he has to convince. There's a lot of voters who don't know the difference between a Democratic Socialist and a socialist, and he needs to educate them, at least to the point where they don't fear it. As you said, it was fine to be a Democratic Socialist when no one was paying attention, but being a gadfly isn't going to win the nomination, let alone beat Trump. Either he needs to ease people's fear of "socialism", or he needs to drop the Democratic Socialist membership and become a full on Democrat. I know that he's loathe to do the former, and in fact, his loyalty to his causes and his platform are among his main strengths, but he has to decide whether he wants to win and actually be able to implement this agenda, or he just wants to be a well known rabble rouser. Being true to your ideals is fine, but allowing your ideals to get in the way of achieving them isn't smart. If he wants to embrace the D.S. label, then he needs to make a stronger, and easily understandable case for that ideology. The problem is that it won't easily fit on a bumper sticker, and sadly that's about all the attention span most voters have.

  87. @Kingfish52 Excellent comment; completely agree.

  88. @Kingfish52 Sanders is not a phony. He is an authentic self, something that has always been natural and quite successful for him now and for decades past. Maybe his critics should try it.

  89. "We are convinced that our demands will not be realized by the ruling classes of society; but we will not win over the workers as long as we ourselves conceal or put aside our mission.” Victor Adler, founder of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party, 1891.

  90. He NEEDS to keep saying "social democracy." Yes, Denmark. Then I would like to see someone ask Donald Trump what the difference between socialism and communism is.

  91. @Joe that would be something, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it be something if all moderators promised to ask Trump this and not let him get away with his typical non answer?

  92. I am tired of the defeatists telling us that single-payer can't happen here -- as if it's some novel theory that has never been tested! Socialized medicine is the standard in other countries and has more than a generation of testing. It works; life expectancies and healthcare outcomes are better in other countries and they all pay far less! The broken for-profit American healthcare system is costing us our money, our lives and our freedom. When I speak to my Trump-supporting brother and father, the one criticism they have for the president is his lack of leadership on healthcare. Only an elite, privileged few think that our healthcare will improve with patchwork fixes. The rest of us -- even the Trump supporting pockets -- know the for-profit system is a failed experiment.

  93. The problem is, you have no earthly idea what “socialized medicine,” is. The only European country to have it is England: it works great, despite all the right-wing screaming and defunding, but if you think American docs and nurses and hospitals and so on are going to agree to be taken over and paid at English wages, you have left the planet en route to distant stars. Other countries have a wide range of universal systems, from single-payer to Singapore, and offer an equally-wide range of coverages. Generally speaking, they’re mostly better. NONE offer what St. Bernie proposes.

  94. @Robert - But NONE of them are paying anything like what we pay today. We can take any universal government run system and improve it just as Bernie has done with Canada;s system and still save a fortune. PS "BRITAIN'S best-paid NHS family doctor rakes in £700,000 a YEAR - sparking fears of so-called GP "empires", it's reported. ... More than 200 NHS doctors are paid in excess of £200,000, while the average GP takes home £90,000 a year, according to the Times.Dec 29, 2017" £90,000 is $117,396.00. I could live pretty well on that. And UK doctors don't have college and med school loans to repay.

  95. @Len Charlap The average salary of a doctor in the US is $313,000. That is rather more than $117,396.

  96. When combating climate change should be the Number 1 priority, it's a shame that the two current leading Democratic nominees have their priorities clearly in the wrong places, both economically and politically. That may be why, despite the onslaught of today's attacks on Michael Bloomberg as a racist, he has the right priorities and he clearly is nowhere near the blatant, white nationalist racist that we have in Donald Trump. So, it may be time to say, "I Like Mike!"

  97. @Paul Wortman The Green New Deal is *the* right climate change policy. Anything less that full mobilization is just wasting precious time. And it will create a lot of jobs in the process.

  98. I use assume that Sanders was not an "international"socialist but rather an American variety....until he tweeted support for Bolivia's Evo Morales. Morales is a corrupt narco dictator in the guise of a nativist socialist. Now, I'm not sure about Sanders, or at least I question his judgement.

  99. @Unkle skippy , Sanders supports democracy, of which Evo Morales happens to to be a beneficiary. I think most Americans find it hypocritical that we preach and push democracy all day long, only to then back coups when the people elect someone who's priorities don't align with the priorities of the US.

  100. Thanks, Mr. Krugman for adding your opinion to the mix. I'm sure that now that you've explained things, everything will work out fine and we'll see a Democratic President in 2021.

  101. @Independent Thanks, Independent, for explaining how the election turns on Krugman's keeping his counsel or expressing it.

  102. @eisweino Just a touch of sarcasm in my post....But I do think Krugman sees himself as an influencer...After all, he did receive a Nobel Prize.

  103. @eisweino Just a touch of sarcasm in my post.

  104. Pap. Sanders is unacceptable not because he slaps on socialist lard, it is because he is a cranky moral absolutist. And not just that. After Trump gets through with him and goads him into more of the same, the Democrats will lose. And that is disaster.

  105. Krugman is underestimating the antipathy to the word socialism. "These days, if you call for something like universal child care, conservatives accuse you of wanting to turn America into the Soviet Union. It’s a smarmy, dishonest political strategy, but it’s hard to deny that it has sometimes been effective." Sometimes been effective? Effective enough for Joe McCarthy to hold the nation captive. Provide one example when smearing an opponent withe the epithet Socialist or Communist was not effective. Conversely, provide one example where labeling someone or some thing socialist turned out positively.

  106. @bobg , I mean Republicans call democrats socialist all the time. Rarely does it have a significant impact because most people know it is a tactical smear, not a real issue that they need to be worried about.

  107. @bobg , Some in the GOP (and Fox) called Obama a socialist. That's their favorite smear, regardless of any factual basis. There's no defense against it; best to address it head on and educate the citizenry.

  108. Admittedly, the word "socialism" carries negative connotations with it, and it has never really entered the realm of normalcy, acceptability - the Overton window. But when you think about it - for just a minute - answer this question: "why do we have taxes?" Taxes are socialism. Taxes pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public education, national defense, roads, bridges, National Institute of Health, etc., etc., etc. Taxes are for society as a whole. Why is this such a hard concept for Americans? But no. We have to use the most toxic connotation as the unabashed truth. It is utter foolishness. It is admitted that most or all debate moderators latch onto the most negative definition of socialism, which kind of fits with the "American pioneer" image of ourselves. But if we are a really intelligent country, we should be educable in this regard.

  109. @Srose - The idea that the federal gov has to pay for things, good & bad, with taxes or borrowing is just plain wrong. The gov doesn't need your money. It can (thru the FED) create as much as it needs out of thin air. Just think about where money you pay your taxes with came from in the first place. Unless you have a printing press in your basement, it originally came from the federal gov. But there's a catch. If the gov needs to create too much money to do the things we want it to do, we may not be able to make enough stuff to soak that money up & will have too much money chasing not enough stuff, i.e. excessive inflation. This is rare & is usually caused by shortages, e,g, of oil. But that's easy to solve & where taxes come in. Taxes allow the gov to take back the excess money & prevent inflation. THE PURPOSE OF TAXES IS TO ADJUST THE AMOUNT OF MONEY IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR The more we can produce, the lower taxes can be. So the way to run things is to spend money to facilitate production. Tax cuts do this, but in an inefficient way. If we cut Daddy Warbuck's taxes, he does not need to spend the money; he uses it for financial speculation. If we cut poor Joe's taxes, he spends the money on stuff-- food, house paint, etc.etc. This promotes production of food, etc. Even better if we pay Joe to fix a bridge, the money still gets into the economy, AND we get the bridge fixed. Just remember, the federal gov will run out of money when the NFL runs out of points.

  110. @Len Charlap : I really wish you'd stop saying this. It is totally false and self-serving. God help Mrs. Charlap if you run the family finances this way -- spend like a drunken sailor -- and then proclaim that "the Charlap bank account will run out of money when the NFL runs out of points!" Epic fail, sir.

  111. @Concerned Citizen - I have emphasized many, many times that the finances of the federal government are nothing like personal finances, or business finances, or the finances of state & local government for that matter, I cannot create money out of thin air. The federal government (thru the FED) can. BIG, BIG DIFFERENCE! Why don't you look up fiat money so you know what you are writing about?

  112. I agree 100% which everything in this column. I wish you running for President. I would vote for you without hesitation. (Of course I'll vote for whoever gets the nomination, but I can dream sometimes...)

  113. Bernie Sanders does NOT call himself a Socialist. He is a Democratic Socialist and sometimes corrects those who call him a Socialist. Democratic Socialists call for a wide safety net, not for nationalization of industries.

  114. @Boston Barry Thanks. Basic distinctions are now at the mercy of spinners and fake news scaremongers. The difference between climate denial and understanding? Mere political stance. The difference between freedom of belief and religious belief? Tyranny by liberal voters. Etc.

  115. @Boston Barry I agree. Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. As in Canada, or Europe. But he will be tarred and feathered nonetheless by Republican artillery that will target everything from his honeymoon in the Soviet Union to his no choice public health care. I am afraid Mr. Krugman is right. Sanders' run, should he be the nominee, could be a kamikaze ride.

  116. @Boston Barry EVERY Democrat running even old-style Republican/Democrat Bloomberg will be called a socialist, just because they don't want to give the store away to billionaires and their predatory corporations. It's certainly true that any progressive can't do everything they want without congressional support, and the GOP has almost destroyed Congress as a place to get things done to benefit the nation. BUT we can be sure that a Progressive candidate will be TRYING to implement policies that benefit all the people, not their toadies. Besides that, a strong, popular candidate can pull other candidates along, so Sanders might get a Democratic House and Senate after all. We need to remember that MOST Americans, even in states that usually favor Republicans, want a better life for themselves and family. They've been fed lies so long they've gotten used to the taste. Which candidates fill stadiums? Trump and Sanders. Think about that for a while.

  117. I like the idea of somehow getting Bernie to shift his tag line from "Democratic socialist" to "Social democrat". Would almost be seamless to do and would put him squarely in line with the Denmarks, rather than Russia's, of the world.

  118. Vote for Bloomberg! Vote the republicans out. What we should worry about is Sanders supporters who will abandon voting if Bernie does not get the nomination, like they did in 2016. Every Republican should stop calling Social Security an entitlement, every taxpayer contributes to Social Security because it is a TAX. The Benefit is a defined benefit based upon how much each taxpayer earns over the last 35 years of reporting, then the benefit is calculated. The only entitlement that I as a taxpayer perceives is how much of a raise Congress members vote themselves, their retirement benefit and health care for life. We need to stop paying them so much of our taxpayer money for jobs that the republicans refuse to perform. We need to rise up and VOTE!

  119. @bob Point of fact: more Sanders primary voters supported Clinton in the general than Clinton voters supported Obama in the general. Your talking point, however common, is still untrue. I'd add, bob, that refusing to pay Congress means only rich people will take it, because they can cash it in later if they sell out. Should probably think that one through a little more.

  120. @Schwa Just saying that maybe their benefit package is better than yours.

  121. It's not a giant step from Democratic Socialist to Socialist. And socialism works well, in a very homogeneous state. Like Denmark which is 97.2% white. Most have the same genetics and similar backgrounds. It's easy to achieve equality when everyone is the same to begin with. Our country is diametrically opposite with vast diversity. Here, socialist concepts are more difficult to implement. And, in history, no socialist government has ever lasted in a diverse culture. Remember the USSR?

  122. @R.R what do race and homogeneity have to do with equality? Are you saying that our country couldn't bear to have equality among races?

  123. @R.R , Gee, it's almost as if you didn't read PK's column. Just jumped right on the red-baiting band-wagon. Comparing Bernie's social democracy (what the Europeans call it) to the USSR's totalitarianism is absurd. If it's not a giant step from social democracy to socialism, why have European nations not made the jump?

  124. @R.R so the reason we have inequality is the US is because we have a lot of non-white people? Got it.

  125. Bernie will not be President of the United States. No Socialist ever will. Krugman states that polls show the majority of our country to be center - left. The majority of the country is center - right.

  126. @Olivia Where's your evidence? Because you said so?

  127. @Olivia thankfully, your mere and desperate declarations do not make it so. But, like all GOPers, you will continue to believe it does ... alas ...

  128. Voting is based on perception. Perception is based on branding. The right candidate and the only reasonable choice is Warren. She brings the progressives into the fold and has not branded herself like Bernie has. Depending on moderates alone is destined for failure. You will have another Jill Stein being propped up by the Republicans to take away the progressive votes again. What we need is 'democratic capitalism' which is capitalism driven by fair laws and rules of trade and environment, defined by Congress based on what is right for their constituents and for the Planet rather than based on needs of the wealthy and the powerful. Until we get this right we will always have false narratives over socialism and capitalism. No one gets this better than Warren. She knows what has corrupted capitalism from inside out. The so called moderates like Amy and Pete are in the race as a career move. Pete just wants to check another box in his resume.

  129. If the Democratic Party were capable of building "as broad a coalition as possible," they could have done so and won the presidency in 2000, 2004 and 2016. They did so in 2008 (but because there was a quite scary economic crash in the weeks just before it) and in 2012, because they had a popular incumbent (who'd helped the country recover from that crash) running against a challenger who looks quite impressive now compared to other DC Republicans, yet less so by the notably higher standards of 8 years ago. Over the past two decades, Democrats have lost 3 of 5 presidential elections, narrowly (actually were slightly ahead in popular votes in two of them) but decisively, yet counter-intuitively given their positions on most issues of greatest concern to voters. The challenges facing America have grown over those 20 years, but the ability of the Democratic Party establishment to effectively articulate solutions, mobilize voter support for substantive changes, and then implement those changes has shrunk. By all indications, if there is to be any kind of powerful and effective coalition against Trump, it will have to come in spite of, not because of, the deep tokenism of the Democratic leadership. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate making a clear, consistent, tangible, comprehensive and specific case for how to build such a coalition and what its goals and priorities should be. The Democratic Party can't even reform itself, but Sanders understands the reform America needs.

  130. Mr. Krugman makes some shocking fact errors. Single payer is popular. Many polls show this. Vermont is not a "very liberal state" - many parts are quite conservative. Sanders wins the support of both camps. And Krugman fails to note that Buttigieg's "stale" ideas are Wall Street talking points. By making this a choice of Bernie or Buttigieg, Krugman betrays he avowed liberal values - and the best way to confront a Republican lie about "socialism" is not as Krugman implies, but to take it head on with the truth, not run away from it.

  131. @Bill Wolfe Actually, polls show that single payer is not popular once you mention removing private insurance and once you mention taxes! The Kaiser Foundation has done very good polling on this and so have many others. What is popular with about 75% (both parties) is the public option.

  132. @Meg Mentioning the phrase "Removing private insurance" is known as a "push poll". It biases the outcome. It is an industry talking point. Just like "raising taxes" and "government health care".

  133. @Meg What if you mention to them that their overall costs will go down unless they are quite wealthy? Of course they never mention that because their purpose is to portray Medicare for All as unpopular.

  134. I rarely disagree with Mr. Krugman and I usually don’t dare to challenge his economic theory. But deficits do matter. They matter when they are mostly caused by tax cuts which is nothing but a subsidy paid by future generations. It’s like consumer debt that has to be paid one day. They don’t matter if we use deficit spending for investments that will improve our lives or that of future generations. It’s the financial magic that does pay for itself.

  135. @Oliver Herfort - Econ101: 1. We need money to conduct commerce. 2, As the economy grows we need more money. 3. Money can come to the private sector from 2 places--the federal gov or from a favorable trade balance. 4. Net federal spending is measured by the federal deficit, i.e. the deficit measures the net flow of money FROM the federal gov TO people, businesses and state & local govs. 5. But we need spending that will help the economy. The money should go to the people who need it & will spend it, not to the people who do not need it & will speculate with it. 6. Thus in order to get the new money the private sector needs, the federal deficit must be larger than the trade deficit. We have a large trade deficit. We need a large deficit. 7. If the above is correct, periods of negative deficits, surpluses, which pay down the federal debt should lead to a bad economy. They have. There have been 6 such periods in which we paid the debt down 10% or more in US history, They have ALL ended in a real gut wrenching depression. In fact this accounts for all of our depressions. 8. On the other hand, in 1946 we had the largest debt ratio in our history. The public debt ratio was 40% larger than today. We had deficits for 21 of the next 27 years. We increased the debt 75%. And we had Great Prosperity. While deficits are NECESSARY to avoid economic disaster, they may not be sufficient. They must be large enough & and the new money must be used in domestic commerce.

  136. Going after imaginary "evil socialism" has been one of the GOP's most effective attacking points against Dems for decades and Sanders is handing it to them on a silver platter Even when Hillary was out campaigning for her healthcare idea in the 1990's people showed up with signs that read "No Socialism" so when Bernie's supporters painted her as republican-lite -it was bizarre Even Obama's more moderate ACA led to the rise of the Tea Party and signs that read "Don't Kill Grandma" and we lost the House and the Senate The idea that the Tea Party rose out of bailing out the banks is baloney. They still use this excuse today as a cover to hide the obvious racial motives combined with the hysteria of socialism due to the pending ACA which also depicted signs of Obama as a witch doctor The famous cry from the stock market floor was against bailing out homeowners - not big banks! It was against socialism! Then people like Glenn Beck tried to bend it into a populism movement - and he was successful (closeup on the tears and photos of the Founding Fathers) So, I think that too many young people (twitter bubble) have zero idea how many people in this nation have had all of this ingrained in their psyche about socialism and about healthcare Sanders is serving up the right-wing's favorite lunch, breakfast and dinner - this is why they are crossing their fingers he will be the nominee - they GOP have laid the groundwork on this issue for decades and it would be an easy win!

  137. I always knew Bernie was not a socialist in the sense that republicans envision. Raising the minimum wage to a contemporary living standard, free college tuition, a reality in other first world countries, medical coverage for all, another benefit others have is not unrealistic. Rising taxes of those in a tax bracket who can afford to contribute more to the welfare (oops I used that dreaded word) of the country, isn’t beyond the pale. From ideas on paper to reality modifications are in the cards. What doesn’t work, eliminated. We have to try. Folks living in abject poverty in Appalachia must be helped as those impoverished in our cities. We have let our poor languish from administration to administration. It’s time to actually do something, and it may be different and difficult, but in America that’s what we use to do. That’s what got us through an international depression. That’s what got us through wars. We used to not cower.

  138. Enough of the smear of Sanders Mr. Krugman. When you start playing mind games with labels, as if they are water-tight, it shows desperation. Reality is fluid and ever-changing. Obviously, Sanders would not be able to implement all his plans instantly. Change is an evolution, and Democratic Socialism is what much of the country wants to evolve toward. BTW, Sanders himself corrects those who call him a socialist. He considers himself a Democratic socialist. There's a difference.

  139. @Laura Philips Did you even read this? Krugman is praising Sanders! I worry this is a troll-comment pretending to be a Sanders supporter, to shore up the "Bernie Bro" criticisms. This is exactly the sort of response Bernie doesn't need. Bernie 2020 (or any good Dem)

  140. Socialism is like pornography, about which a Supreme Court justice once said, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” Like jazz, science fiction, and love) it lacks a precise definition that all understand, so it is meaningless until clarified. I’ll define socialism: any scheme in which, instead of paying the full cost of what you buy, you help pay for others or others help pay for you. We do this for various reasons: We agree something is a basic right to which all are entitled regardless of ability to pay (e.g. public education, police, fire; should include medical care). Or metering and charging each user is not feasible (most roads, again police and fire). Or we decide to subsidize it because it’s good (e.g. deductible home mortgage interest, to encourage home ownership). Capitalism requires enough production to trade, money as a medium of exchange, functioning and regulated markets, and the ability to invest and get a return. We are a mixed capitalist-socialist economy. The two are quite compatible. They are opposite ends of a spectrum, and the purchase and sale of most things falls in between the two extremes. Yes, you may pay for your electric bill per kilowatt hour you use, but there were lots of subsidies for building power plants and transmission lines. The food, gas, computers and other things you buy - all subsidized somewhere. Sanders is not a pure socialist. But he encourages the debate we should have: What should we socialize, and by how much?

  141. @Aram Hollman Yes!

  142. @Aram Hollman All true. But when he has an image of being a socialist, which he unabashedly admits, adding 'democratic socialist', he becomes radioactive in the eyes of most voters who may not be sophisticated enough to grasp the desirability of his policies. And enough numbers of them would vote for Mr. Trump. I would like all his policies implemented, including Medicare for All, free public college, debt forgiveness, 52% top tax-rate, 8% wealth tax, Green New Deal and some, like universal pre-K starting at age 3, or even 2. Thus by insisting to be a 'democratic socialist', he will cause the implementation of the OPPOSITE of what he wanted to implement. That is sad.

  143. Professor Krugman is completely right in saying that whoever wins the Democratic nomination deserves our complete support. But I am frankly baffled by his claim that Sanders gladly accepts the label of socialist. In every interview with Bernie that I have ever heard, he has always been emphatic in describing himself as a democratic socialist, and often compares his proposals to the Danish example. Still, his policies do seem radical for American politics for one main reason. When he declares that healthcare and other social programs are issues of human rights, he is openly challenging the neo-liberal doctrines that have ruled the political debate in both parties for over forty years. Could he be more subtle about this? Perhaps. But for many of us, his robust advocacy for a caring society feels like a much needed liberation.

  144. @Bob Chisholm Democratic socialists don't praise the Soviet Union and honeymoon there not do they support Maduro in Venezuela as Comrade Sanders does. And their supporters do not threaten to gulag people who don't agree with them as many of Sanders folks do.

  145. @new conservative I have been to Russia a couple of times and I love the idea of universal health care. Gee, I must be communist! As for gulags, with Trump conducting a purge of his supposed enemies in the government, I don't think gulags are far behind. Please name the times and places where Sanders supporters have "threaten to gulag people". That is one of the most outrageous smears I have heard yet. I know Russians are trying to divide us so it is hard to take you seriously with claims like that.

  146. There is one statement here I find tremendously agreeable - "If Democrats win, they should pursue a progressive agenda, not waste political capital cleaning up the G.O.P.’s mess." Apart from my inclination to agree with Bernie on numerous issue, I believe his selection as candidate is the only one that effectively communicate the rejection of the past priorities, tactics and policies that lead directly to Trump. Too much time is spent reconciling past statements by all manner of leaders to portray some consistency that implies care and concern for most Americans and their priorities, concerns, or even well being. The facile efficacy of Trumps lies, and the grotesque domain in which he dwells are in need of utter rejection. This means new directions throughout the government. Moderate Democratic candidates (Buttigieg and Klobuchar in particular) are the least likely to succeed in this, and, in my view, likely to unwittingly promote a continuation of the deceit and exploitation that the key perpetrators of our most serious and pressing problems rely on. Soon or later, this house of cards will fall, we still have the choice to pick it apart without causing too much damage or grief, or, I believe, that a calamity cascade will begin, and our choices will be fewer and fewer, and there will be no turning back, or away...

  147. In 2016, we needed a political revolution. Only Trump and Sanders were saying that. But Bernie sold himself poorly by starting his speech with, "I'm a Democratic Socialist." He attached that label to himself, and that scared too many away. So the people who wanted the revolution voted for Trump, who promptly delivered none of it. Here's the thing: we STILL need the political revolution, but it's worse now, because Trump and the Republicans are tearing our democratic institutions apart. We need a revolution that overturns Citizens United, restores voting rights, eliminates gerrymandering, etc. And that revolution opens the door to better health care, immigration reform, fairer taxes, solving climate change, and so forth. We need a president who will champion the revolution, but much of it must come from the Congress. So vote for the nominee who supports political reform, AND vote for a Senator and representative who will have to vote for it.

  148. The permanant problem right now is that whatever the Democrats try to do and actually accomplish during their next presidency will be vulnerable to continual Republican obstruction and sabotage. This could be under-funding, defunding, or direct demoralizing of the government programs. They have weaponized all the loopholes, backdoors, workarounds, errors of original omission, and outright defections in our Constitution. This has caused a lack of political legitimacy. Our current government structure and political norms fail to mesh with the populist theory (Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address, and the Constitution itself) this country is founded on. Majority rule and "one person, one vote" are still thwarted by our government's structure. Not to mention the fact that people who don't vote have also not given their consent to be governed. Besides outright voter suppression tactics that prevent voting, there are also many who don't vote because of the triple gerrymandered state of the federal government. If you live in a gerrymandered district, in a permanently gerrymandered state, and you know that your presidential vote goes into a gerrymandered Electoral College, then you already know that the majority vote total does not translate into the majority's rule. So, on that basis alone, why vote?! Further, if you are aware of the vote-skewing effects of dark campaign money, you have even more reason to doubt the rational efficacy of your identity group's votes.

  149. @Ben Andrews Obviously I meant 'outright defects in our Constitution', not "defections".

  150. @Ben Andrews See NYT Picks: @Lisa Kraus Yes!!! Great comment. This [@Lisa Kraus's warnings about the Republican Party being just as big, if not a bigger problem than Pres.DJT] was a big part of what I was getting at in my comment @Ben Andrews re the Republican leadership's weaponizing of our Constitution's various flaws. We are never going to know what the real majority of American citizens want if we don't massively overhaul our Constitution. A large overhaul of the Constitution's loopholes could be a unifying issue for the Democratic Party. And it would be worth the fight. That's because whatever the Democrats try to do or actually do during their next presidency will face continual Republican obstruction and/or sabotage when they get into power again. And the ratio of time in power will continue to be skewed in favor of the Republican Party leadership if our Constitution is not massively reformed. If enough people can't vote or choose not to vote then the real majority really hasn't actually given its consent to be governed! The current state of our Constitutional government structure guarantees that the majority will of the people will never be truly known. I urge you to read my comment @Ben Andrews for further development of this argument.

  151. Neither Bernie or Warren would get their plans through the House or Senate if elected. The majority of America's politicians are either moderate or conservative and will block any of their nonsensical ideas. They can talks about Medicare for All and a 2% wealth tax, but neither will happen. So we are safe if they win.

  152. Fear of socialism (lower case version) is an example of our lack of understanding of the difference between a heavy handed imposition of Socialism (upper case version) and our well established socialization of certain costs (police, fire protection, education, transportation, military) for the public good. This, rather than an unworkable system of everyone paving their own roads, buying their own fire trucks, and outfitting their own army. Extreme examples, I know, but imagine a country where everyone either builds their own elements of civilization or only the wealthy can afford subscriptions for basic services and protections. It's messy and imperfect, but our blend of capitalism and socialism needs some expansion (access to health care) and better guard rails to prevent further widening of the wealth gap and to provide improved protections for the vulnerable.

  153. Fear of socialism (lower case version) is an example of our lack of understanding of the difference between a heavy handed imposition of Socialism (upper case version) and our well established socialization of certain costs (police, fire protection, education, transportation, military) for the public good. This, rather than an unworkable system of everyone paving their own roads, buying their own fire trucks, and outfitting their own army. Extreme examples, I know, but imagine a country where everyone either builds their own elements of civilization or only the wealthy can afford subscriptions for basic services and protections. It's messy and imperfect, but our blend of capitalism and socialism needs some expansion (access to health care) and better guard rails to prevent further widening of the wealth gap and to provide improved protections for the vulnerable.

  154. In the case of Sanders, clinging to "socialist", and rarely qualifying it with "democratic", when he should know that the label does him no good at the national level, may reflect his vanity. It's probably too late to repudiate the term now, but at the least he needs to explain what he's talking about. Buttigieg, by contrast, is quite obviously speaking in the voice of his donors, complete with "across the aisle, finding common ground" blather, which is positively offensive today. There's no former progressive position he hasn't repudiated, for neo-liberal platitudes. Live in dread of Grand Bargains. While we're at it, how about someone explaining to Amy Klobuchar that repeating vile Republican talking points about Medicare for All -- you'll lose your coverage! -- isn't doing the party, or the American public, any favors.

  155. Clinton and Obama were charismatic politicians who won the Presidency on the strength of their “up from poverty” life stories, their superb speaking abilities (yes, this counts a lot), and their personalities. In campaigning both were short on specifics. After all, what does the “Audacity of Hope” actually mean? None of the 25 or so Democrats who have run in the last year can match these two in charisma. So for the most part they have fallen back on specific, very specific, policy platforms in hopes to cobble together enough support to win. Inevitably, however, the more specific the proposals, the more likely some Democrats were demur. What the Democratic party desperately needs is a charismatic candidate who is not burdened by three hundred pages of specific proposals. Unfortunately, the only charismatic politician running this year is the malevolent man in White House (yes, crowds matter).

  156. I've never heard Bernie call himself a socialist. Not once during 2016 nor the 2020 cycle. Perhaps I'm missing something...I HAVE, however, heard him refer to himself repeatedly as a 'democratic socialist' over the course of years. Indeed, Prof. Krugman aptly applies the term to the lively and stable Scandinavian nations (with the term dating back multiple decades, for sure) for which Bernie is referring. Come to think of it, recently I have heard Bernie referred to as a 'socialist' numerous times since the beginning of the contests - by the MSM (NYT, WAPO, MSNBC, al.)! This of course echoes Republican tactics (re)introduced in 2016 and currently being employed in 2020. I agree, let's speak (and debate) the truth with regards to philosophy, policy, and visions for a future where opportunity to succeed and advance in this nation is something that is at least accessible to the broadest of representations within the populace. Indeed, if we fail we may well imperil much more than just the next four years...

  157. As a recovering conservative, I do wish that the Speaker of the House would run. and put an end to all this in fighting.

  158. Interesting that the possible candidate whom Trump fears most doesn't appear in this column. Why? Because of his results in a caucus/election with 7 or so candidates in two small states where the voters were Democratic Party primary voters - not all of whom showed up. What makes anyone think that these circuses have any relation to who should run one on one against Donald Trump in fifty states? Anybody who thinks doesn't think that. In fact, anyone who does think realizes that the election will be decided in PA WI OH IL IN FL NC - add your favorite one or two or three. Certainly not in Iowa and New Hampshire, by Democratic primary voters. The Democratic ticket should be Biden/Klobuchar.

  159. @C. Richard sounds good to me, but Biden has not been on his game at all lately, and I doubt it's going to get better...

  160. @Jim For sure his numbers don't look good - but I think the system is busted. The far left is split between Sanders and Warren - 45% or so of the total , leaving the moderate (sane) vote to be split - was it five ways? And for sure it's more fun to vote for Mayor Pete or Klobuchar than old Uncle Joe. And the media who look for the fun rather than the old dull way to win. Have you seen the comments from Rick Wilson - Republican never Trumper - or The Ragin' Cajun' - what's his name - who helped put the first Clinton into the White House? His comment was something like "Haven't the y seen what Jeremy Corbyn did? Let's hope.

  161. @C. Richard ...I actually did have that Biden/Klobuchar ticket in last weeks comment section, but have been put off by some of Biden's senior moments lately (and that "lying dog-faced pony soldier" thing was just weird)...anyway, my wife and I split our votes here in NH with one for Biden and one for Klobuchar...I'm all for any way to beat Trump, but I'd take "the old dull way to win"...we've had enough drama with the guy in the white house...

  162. Sanders and the others should tell voters what they see as possible after 4 years in office. Improved health, improved education, improved infrastructure, improved society. The USA will not be radically different from today - just better. Stop being extreme (you already have people’s attention) and start being seen as realistic (you can humane and practical ). Trump, Fox and the Republicans cannot argue effectively against what the vast majority sees as improvement.

  163. The Dems also need to control the Senate and expand control of the house, plus state governors and legislatures. 2020 will determine redistricting. Sanders will drag thes races into the ash heap.

  164. @Eero He'll motivate many previously discouraged voters to turn out for him, more than any of his opponents will. That will only help down-ticket races.

  165. @Eero are you aware of the support he has provided to many newly elected house members? your analysis sounds a bit shallow and defeated - which is not where his campaign or "the revolution" speaks to.

  166. Republicans called Obama a socialist all day long. They'll call Klobouchar and Buttigieg socialists too. Maybe that's why Bernie's leading in the polls, people have seen that the label is meaningless when the Republicans are using it. Bernie will focus on the issues, and the solutions, and will gather a surprisingly broad coalition, including many blue-collar white voters that the Democrats abandoned. Bernie has consistency and authenticity, and people will pick up on that, regardless of what the Republicans say.

  167. If you read down the issues page on Bernie's website, most of it at the beginning seems reasonable enough. It's when you get near the end that you get to the nuttier parts. Guaranteed jobs for all. Is he talking about creating busy work just for the sake of creating work? Give workers an ownership stake in the companies they work for. Brushing aside the question whether most workers even want that ownership, it doesn't sound fair that a business owner needs to chip away a portion of the ownership every time someone is hired. Would this apply to small business owners who are barely getting by? His version of the wealth tax is pretty extreme and would essentially cap the amount of money someone could have. I'm not a billionaire and don't know any, but it seems reasonable to let people keep most of what they've earned and pass that down to their children. The Wall Street tax sounds like it will impact more than just day traders, but basically anyone who invests his or her money, and discourage people from buying stocks or investing their retirement funds in the market, because those percentages can really add up. If it drives investors away from the markets, will this crash the market? Most of the focus on Bernie has been on Medicare for All, but there's a lot more here to parse through.

  168. @Chris I disagree, unlimited inherited wealth is a major malfunction in this society.

  169. @RJ Newcomer Why is unlimited inherited wealth a malfunction ? Because you don't get any of it ? To me, the govt stepping in and taking portions of earned money that has already had taxes paid on it is legalized stealing. And it sounds like you just want to get your hands on some of it via redistribution. Sorry. Go have yourself of your family earn their own.

  170. I just wish the Democrats could choose one candidate as soon as possible so they can focus on defeating Trump. The only Democrat who is on the air waves attacking Trump is Bloomberg. Tom Perez has failed the Democratic party by sitting by as an onlooker, rather than raising funds to broadcast Republican travesties. And there are multiple organizations asking for our money - but I haven't seen any ads from any of them, only on-line dunning requests. They are spread so thin it's easy for Trump to overshadow all of them. Get your acts together Democrats, pick one person and focus on bringing Trump down.

  171. I told my very conservative family members that I'm a socialist, and all it means is that it's shameful for the wealthiest nation in the world to have some people having more than they could possibly ever need, while other people are dying for lack of medical care, are sleeping on the streets, and don't have enough to eat. And yes, they agreed.

  172. I wish he would call himself a social democrat instead. Also, I wish he and Warren would try to sell their policies as actually beneficial to the rich. After all, the rising tide still lifts all boats, does it not? Doesn't single payer health care mean businesses no longer have to pay to administer health care plans for their employees? Doesn't it take a uncertain cost that needs to be negotiated every year and make it a fixed cost? Why does everyone want to keep their insurance company? Who are these mysterious people who are happy with their insurance company?

  173. Dr. Krugman is right. Sanders should stop with the "socialist" schtick. He hasn't yet gotten the message that centrist Democrats want a whole lot more answers about his economic programs than he's given thus far. Many middle-aged and older Democrats lived through the 2008 recession. Many lost their jobs, their health insurance, their homes, and much of their savings then. And they weren't young enough to be rehired so they could replace any of their retirement funds. These voters' fears cannot be dismissed. Bernie needs to reach these older Democrats, and this is why I think the younger candidates (Buttigieg and Klobuchar) appeal to them, ironically, more than he does. Now, what Bernie is proposing may lead to a more stable economic future for older Americans. But he needs to tell them why. And he should remember that older Americans are more reliable voters than younger ones. Parenthetically, any voter who believes their savings and investments are safer with Trump than with Bloomberg, Klobuchar or Buttigieg is perhaps not being quite as honest with themselves about their real motivations for staying with this tyrant. But Bernie will have a Senate that will block every proposal he has. Should he actually win the presidency, I doubt he will be able to accomplish any of his major programs. So for him to gain any type of nationwide consensus, he needs the support of older, middle-class Democrats, even those who may not be as "woke" as some of their younger friends.

  174. @Roland Deschain I agree with your comnet but I hate the term "woke." To me is is extremely arrogant in nature. It seems to say, if you do not agree with me then you have not seen the truth yet. I wonder how these "woke" kids will feel in 10 years when they have a new "awakening" that also comes from a life of experience. They will see that being "woke" is not a singular experience and can take many forms for many people as our life experiences can cause us all to see things in ways that others do not. This is why Democracy is so important - no one way is the right way - thus we all have a right to chose.

  175. @Meg , These are good points, and this is why I put the term in quotes.

  176. @Roland Deschain I realized that - but I simply felt a need to make a point about the word "woke" - it is irritating.

  177. Let's get our definitions down. If socialism is Scandinavian style cheap university education, comprehensive publicly funded and run medical care, and a progressive safety net including support for childcare, family leave, etc then let's call him a socialist. In fact socialized medicine for over 65 and disabled exists in the USA for the past 70 years. It's called Medicare. Socialism the way that it exists in Cuba, pre-1989 Eastern Europe and Vietnam is called a dictatorship under a form of communism. Very distinct and separate from socialism. Americans need to understand these definitions instead of weaponizing the word socialism.

  178. I think Dr. Krugman’s point is that if Sanders becomes the nominee, the Republican Party will weaponize the term “socialist” and will make no distinction between it and a “democratic socialist.” I would also wager that the Republicans have already weaponized the “s” word and are licking their chops regarding Trump’s almost sure re-election if Sanders is the ultimate candidate.

  179. Dear Dr. Krugman, If Mr. Sanders is not a socialist he should quit misleading people by taking on that label. By the way as you well know, Denmark and the Scandanavian countries that Mr. Sanders says he admires are not socialist they are capitalist, albeit it with a more generous social safety than the US. It is also problematic that he has in the past lauded, the Soviet Union, the Sandinistas, Mr. Castro and Mr. Chavez. To paraphrase one of our great poets, "When somebody tells you who they are believe them." Mr. Sanders says he is a socialist and if you read his campaign web page, if he is not a socialist then he is doing a dashed good imitation of one.

  180. Too many people confuse robust social welfare programs with socialism. And today I've already had to debunk the "Denmark is socialist" meme twice. I've lived in Denmark and while it has healthy social welfare programs, it has a capitalist, free market economy. A few things in Denmark are fully or partially nationalized: the railway system, utilities, broadcasting, the postal service. Guess what, in the United States those SAME things are "public" or nationalized, in whole or in part. We have Amtrak and the TVA, public transit in major cities and PBS, and public utilities. These may not operate as fully nationalized or government-run but they are in part. Does that make the U.S. socialist? Of course not.

  181. Finally! Thank you Paul for making this clear about Bernie. I lived in Burlington, VT during the time he was mayor and all I can say was that he was about as middle of the road as you can possibly imagine. The most radical thing he ever did was turn the downtown shopping district into a pedestrian mall, something cities around the world have since emulated. Unfortunately Bernie, like 99.999% of Americans, has absolutely no idea what "socialism" actually is, or how it differs from communism. What Bernie and his followers are really calling for is something more akin to the generous social welfare benefits in Europe and elsewhere, not state ownership of the means of production.

  182. Bernie does not call himself a socialist; he calls himself a democratic socialist. He positions himself as an heir to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who won four consecutive elections as a progressive. Calling himself a democratic socialist makes him an outsider. Outsiders--please note Trump--have done pretty well in recent elections.

  183. Krugman argues for more than what the facts warrant in claiming that Sanders isn't a socialist. He certainly doesn't seem to be an ideological socialist either in his actions or words, but he has been in a position of being to the left of the entire American political spectrum all his career. His brother is on the definite left of the UK political spectrum, which has real socialism. Most likely his identification as a socialist comes from his U Chicago days and in part is a label adopted to express dissatisfaction with both the analytical and prescriptive tools and norms of liberalism as not being enough to correct for social problems, as in the early Niebuhr. I say this as a (qualified) supporter of his candidacy and admirer of his integrity as a person. The limits on his socialist aims (whatever they may be) would be practical rather than internal to his own conceptions.

  184. I have never heard Sanders call himself a Socialist. He always refers to himself as a Democratic Socialist. Why does he so clearly identify himself as such knowing that Obama was being called a Communist, just for being a Democrat. Having won his mayoral seat running as a Socialist, it is difficult for him to hide the fact that he has always championed programs that aid the working class and disadvantaged. Governmental programs like single payer healthcare, free college education, and regulating the cost of pharmaceuticals are good examples. Another reason I believe Sanders self identifies as a Democratic Socialist is to educate the electorate about what is truly means to have the government programs that tackle the issue of the gross inequality that exist in our country. I think overall it is working well for him as many of the programs that were seen as "pie in the sky" outlandish by most pundits, yourself included, have been adopted by many Democrats. By being honest about who he is, Sanders has clearly moved the party to the left and I believe made himself less vulnerable to the red baiting that all Democrats will have to contend with. I remember a time that liberal was a dirty word. Now Democrats can call themselves Progressives without fear.

  185. I voted for Elizabeth Warren because she describes herself as a capitalist and thus avoids the Socialist name tag put on Sanders head. Both advocate Medicare for all, but Warren says it will be phased-in over several years. Of course, none of their proposed changes will ever become law unless Congress is made predominantly blue.

  186. I starting to feel more optimistic. While the Democratic party is divided at this time, I also feel a tremendous amount of engagement and interest in the primaries. I am hoping this will translate into strong turnout and a rallying around who wins the election. I am just basing this feeling on my own engagement at this stage in the election versus the last one. Lastly, I am so happy to see that Bloomberg is willing to stoop down to Trump's level from time to time. We need to push back more.

  187. Thanks for this, Paul. When Bernie wins the nomination, he and his team will have time to get it through to those who are afraid of the S word, that the Social Democracy model he is proposing is what Denmark or France has. And universal healthcare will not happen overnite, it will take years to make a gradual shift towards it, assuming there is enough support for it once Sanders takes office. Bernie is building and already has a broad coalition. It is more progressive than many in the party would like, so they think it has no chance. But there is an Obama/Trump overlap as well as Trump/Bernie overlap party elites and people in coastal cities don't seem to get. Maybe this time moderates will have vote for a candidate they don't love to win back the White House. Progressives have been doing that for years.

  188. On Meet the Press this past Sunday, Chuck Todd interviewed Sanders and called him a socialist. Bernie quickly corrected him by stating, "I'm a democratic socialist." I hope Bernie never drops the word "socialist" from his identity because socialism makes sense and young voters (and, therefore, the future) are behind it!

  189. Bernie is smart to call himself a democratic socialist. He's been that his whole political life. He's defined what a democratic socialist wants: the Green New Deal for serious climate action; Medicare for All for affordable, simple to use, universal health care; a $15 minimum wage as a living wage; tuition free college and student debt cancellation; stronger labor unions; higher taxes on the wealthy. Republicans, Trump included, will label as socialism anything that diminishes the power of the wealthy and current predatory capitalism. Bernie is wise to embrace and thus disarm that label and make it something positive. By the way, Mr Krugman, democratic socialism doesn't imply centralization; just the opposite. The poor, the working and middle class take control of their lives at the local level in democratic socialism. The family owned food truck moving around on publicly own streets is the epitome of democratic socialism. When some big, fast food franchise swoops in to replace them, that's our current capitalism.

  190. @Steve C ….sounds fine, but also it's federal laws that give us Equal Protections per the Constitution. The local level and the states are smaller units of politics and money. They can be taken over by powerful corporate interests. If some states do pass progressive laws in the public interest, it's hard to spread this to many other states. There is a cultivated prejudice against the 'Big Federal Govt'. The US lets states opt out of ACA, so millions lack insurance, with bad results for their lives, health and financial security, Other countries have HC for all. They realize 'Equal Protection.'

  191. Bernie Sanders will encounter very little from the Trump team that he hasn't already been picked apart on by the Democratic Party elite and everyone at the NY Times and the Washington Post and CNN and MSNBC. There's not a single mainstream voice in any of those organizations who isn't trying to undermine him. The Republicans are sitting back and laughing at the Democratic establishment attacks on Sanders, using Republican talking points about "taking away your health insurance" and "socialism", and their efforts to cripple his candidacy. Republicans don't have to lift a finger as long as Democrats are doing their best to do damage to Sanders. Trump's TV advertising could consist of nothing but quoting Democratic fear mongering about Sanders, and it would be just as nasty and ignorant as anything they could come up with. Party unity isn't something you do after the convention. It's too late by then, especially when you've been spending the previous year engaging in propaganda against your front runner.

  192. Population comparisons are a part of the lies and deceptions that Republicans want you to believe when we compare ourselves to other countries and their good ideas. Greedy corporatists, be they Republican or Democrat don't want their fat cat billions to turn into millions. It's that simple America. Wake up and realize that we will not turn into Cuba or the Soviet Union if Sanders or even Warren were to become the next president.

  193. Sanders does not have a chance. Krugman says: " He doesn’t want to nationalize our major industries and replace markets with central planning". Yes he does. It is called MfA. It replaces markets, outlaws private medicine, and creates one giant bureaucracy. Krugman says the country polls center left. On what planet? Half the Dems are moderates --centrists-- and all the Repubs are right. Indies split both ways 50-50. I can add. If Sanders gets the nod, we will have a choice between an authoritarian lunatic on the right and one on the left. What a mess.

  194. @Ylem The polls disagree with you.

  195. I see the Sanders' campaign as a referendum on bourgeois excess mixed with the sneering sensibility of an undergrad poli-sci major at a liberal arts college. The glaring irony here, of course, is that the former begat the latter. Buttigieg looks like he could potentially beat Trump - he's winning over those Obama-Trump voters, who are itching to swing the other way, once again, as Sanders is a little too boutique/niche for their tastes.

  196. Bernie Sanders is neither a socialist nor does he play one on TV. The problem is the political science and civics challenged American voting public. Bernie Sanders is no different than your average Scandinavian capitalist Social Democrat politician. That means he is as compassionate, fair minded and egalitarian a capitalist as that other candidate who said she's a capitalist in her bones. Capitalism doesn't have to be extractive. Capitalism doesn't have to be undemocratic and oligarchic. We can all do very well without doing it at the expense of "name your group of people" That is what Bernie Sanders represents as a Democratic Socialist. Everything else is distracting noise. 2nd submission 4:35 EST

  197. @Rima Regas Capitalism is inherently extractive and exploitative. A true capitalist exploits their surroundings for their personal benefit. It's the basic premise of capitalism. The system applauds those who maximize that self enrichment, so long as it's legal. (And "legal" doesn't necessarily mean "ethical" or "moral.") Can capitalism be made more humane? Can water be pumped uphill? "Yes," to both questions, but it takes a lot of effort and energy to counteract the natural tendencies of both capitalism and water. How about we start with some new premises about society, like the well being of society in general is more important than the ability of some single person to manipulate their surrounding for their self enrichment. A few people are very good at being capitalists, but most of use just don't have those talents. The latter group is far bigger than the former. Yet we throw our lot with capitalism and thus reduce the well being of the majority and reduce the health of democracy.

  198. @Rima Regas But he calls himself a socialist. I wish he wouldn’t.

  199. @Rima Regas Capitalism left unbridled without the attentive regulation of an informed populace does indeed lead to the death of democracy and its replacement with oligarchy. ( The exception of a Tom Styers only illuminates the general rule) Leaving regulation to the good intentions of billionaires is like leaving the hen house in the hands of the foxes. I'm in favor of a constitutional amendment that requires all US citizens to vote for President and Congress.

  200. Disappointed that Paul didn’t mention student loan forgiveness, the most controversial and regressive proposal in Bernie’s “socialist” policy platform.

  201. I'm a little confused. I'm almost certain that Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist. There is huge confusion in the public of the meaning of the word, because america has a horrid lack of education regarding economic systems, including Marxism in general. The history of those philosophies is fascinating and like capitalism, they all have had ups and downs and variation. America of course has large elements of socialism in the sense of the government assisting people. It also assists companies to large massive degrees; just consider the military industrial companies. Huge trillions of dollars of your money going to those private companies. Denmark and Finland, etc. are marvelous countries with very, very happy and healthy people. All kinds of vacation weeks and child care and great k-12 education. Our country is failing and most of us can feel it. I no longer leave a large list of the pain in America; you all know it by now at least in what you can read. And yet people are still promoting Bloomberg for president! Can you imagine! What nonsense. Then Buttigieg: such a young inexperienced person who is a military industrial complex shoe-in; they can't wait to get him in there. He will dump billions and trillions into the military for bombs and new missiles and new horrid atomic bombs and of course our new, marvelous our space force. This country is going down fast.

  202. @Frank There is indeed confusion in the 'public meaning of the word'. Look at what wikipedia shows as the difference between social democrat and democratic socialism'. "One difference is that modern social democrats are mainly concerned with practical reforms to capitalism whereas democratic socialists ultimately want to go beyond mere meliorist reforms and advocate systemic transformation of the economy from capitalism to socialism." Since Bernie identified a democratic socialist, it seems very clear what is end goals are...

  203. @Frank are confused..... Here.... “Then Trump: such an old inexperienced person who was a military industrial complex shoe-in; they couldn’t wait to get him in there. He dumped billions and trillions into the military for bombs and new missiles and new horrid atomic bombs and of course our new, marvelous our space force. This country has gone down fast”. FIFY.

  204. A social democrat is still a socialist, to many people. There’s a political line, but it’s blurry. It’s a thin reed to stake a campaign on.

  205. There's no other single politician who makes me want to tear my hair out as much as Bernie Sanders, except for Donald Trump. I'm tired of extremists and the politics of personal destruction. I just want a stable hand at the helm who will get this country back to being normal and decent. I don't want to revolution. I just want competence, stability, and action to address climate change, strengthen the ACA, and protect women's rights. Trump is a five alarm emergency, and this is no time to be having a referendum on capitalism versus socialism. If we nominate Bernie Sanders we will lose, and lose big.

  206. @KC The polls disagree with you.

  207. @KC 1. A gut feeling that Bernie will lose isn't evidence. Polls seem to show the opposite. Last time we ran the "electable" candidate who ran on competence and stability and decency, and it turns out we don't actually know who is electable and who isn't until the people vote. 2. Trump isn't an anomaly. His election is a symptom - a horrendous one, definitely - but not the cause. He wouldn't have ever gotten near the presidency if there wasn't a serious crisis in our political and economic system. He wouldn't have gotten near the presidency if he didn't have a party behind him that shares his contempt for democracy. When you've got cancer, a bandage isn't going to cut it. Big problems - not least climate change - require big solutions.

  208. Sorry, but Bernie, for all his positives, is just not going to get elected. Yes, young people flock to his message, but they're a minority among the totality of voters. Plus, Trump and his disciples will rip Bernie apart by misquoting or worse his past speeches, actions, etc. In my view Bloomberg offers the best chance to defeat Trump. We cannot afford another four years of Trump which will leave a country that none of us will recognize as the United States of America.

  209. @Lenalex The polls disagree with you.

  210. The reaction of Republicans to Bernie (or Mayor Pete) is irrelevant. Republicans, since the days of Reagan at least, have stoked paranoid delusions of economic catastrophe regardless of the Democratic Party's nominee. Democrats should simply ignore it. It will be effective in motivating Republicans to vote. Nothing to be done about it. On the other hand, the reaction of Democrats to Mayor Peter (and Bernie) is extremely relevant. A Democrat needs to both inspire Democrats and catastrophize Trump in order to maximize likelihood of winning. In other words, Democratic candidates need to motivate Democratic voters to actually vote. I do worry that Buttigieg will fail to motivate the progressives with his Very Serious Person act on the federal deficit. But I also worry that Sanders will fail to motivate good government Democrats with his populist rants against the system. Neither candidate is the ideal vessel for inspiring the broadest coalition of Democrats. But each will benefit from running against an honest to God dumpster fire of a Republican. Most Democrats will be motivated to vote against the end of the Republic. I'll cross my fingers.

  211. I agree with everything you’ve said! I am a long term, strong Sanders supporter. Supported him in 2016, with campaign work here in California and lots of dollars, then and now. I think his stump speech, now very very tired, should always contain a statement that he is a democratic socialist and then explain what that implies. Unfortunately, we have a politically dumbed down population and if he is to succeed, and I fervently hope he does, he will have to address this issue head on, frequently and on national television and his rallies whenever possible. Would take just a few minutes, but is critical to his success. Bernie,are you listening!?

  212. I’m not convinced that calling himself a democratic socialist is really all that damaging to Bernie. We should know by now that republicans don’t need permission to brand any democrat with that label. If a democrat came along quoting Ayn Rand and extolling the virtues of cutting the capital gains tax, Republicans would be screaming about socialism. The people we have a chance in heck of getting to vote with us aren’t going to fall for that familiar wolf-cry. In fact, normalization of the word might even take away some of its power.

  213. @Christopher Walker Even after reading the article, you got it wrong. It's not democratic socialist, but a social democrat. There is no real socialism to speak of in Sanders' platform.

  214. @S.C. Even after reading my comment, you got it wrong. I did not characterize Sen. Sanders’ platform as democratic socialism, or as anything else. I was referring to the label he has used to describe himself. That, you will find, is “democratic socialist.” If you take issue with the accuracy of that appellation, take it up with the senator, not me.

  215. Social-ism is called that because of an authoritarian version that was forced on Russians and others in the past. That stigma remains as a legacy that haunts today’s nomenclature. The forced Socialism of that past bears more a resemblance to the far right than to Bernie’s moderate version that really shouldn’t be called socialism at all. And btw, he doesn’t advocate for the forced elimination of private health care insurance. That is a myth, or as least a misrepresentation.

  216. Mainstream punditry, despite a raft of evidence to the contrary, is convinced that Sanders is unpopular, irrational, and unelectable, and that his campaign is suicidally immoderate, and each day they lash out with even more desperate attacks that are even more baseless and rootless. Sanders has the most money of all the contestants, is broadly popular among Democrats, and has swing-voter appeal in key states. Krugman’s nit about Bernie branding himself as a socialist lacks the hysteria of say, Chris Matthews ranting about executions in Central Park on prime time television, but it is as stale as wood. I have my doubts as to whether working class voters, whose fortunes have been sinking for decades, could give a damn about republican scare tactics this time around. But we will see.

  217. @Disillusioned reader Honestly, this sounds like it was written in a Bernie Bro bubble. A generation of Democrats doesn't forgive him, his followers, or the Russians who fanned his flames for what happened in '16. And he does not have more money than Bloomberg.

  218. @Sarcasmia Is it really fair to say that a generation of Democrats doesn’t forgive him? Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the right wing of the party would have blamed him regardless of the many factors that caused Clinton to lose what was a really close election. If you really insist “Bernie Bros” were the deciding factor in the 2016 loss, consider that in an average general election, 10-15% of voters vote across party lines for varying reasons. About 12% of Bernie Bros voted for Trump, citing various reasons (the polling is all over the place on this). In 2008, over 20% of Clinton primary supporters chose McCain over Obama.

  219. @Disillusioned reader I am from a county in Pennsylvania that flipped from Obama to Trump that the Democrats need to win in 2020. Any hint of socialism scares many of them away even if it would likely improve their lives. Sanders is a crazy hippy to them. (Yes, I have heard those exact words.) So many are so easily swayed it almost makes me cry.

  220. Bernie likes to appeal to his devoted followers and will throw on the red meat. Like Trump and his Trumpes they both appeal to a devoted minority faction. If Bernie can't even run away with the primary in his neighboring state, he's not going to persuade a nation that he'll change the nation.

  221. @Michael Kelly - Yet, Obi Biden is our only hope? He couldn't even pull out a 4th place in the primaries.

  222. I rather like "Social Democrat." Let the smarm machine attack being social. And by the way, Denmark is very nice. The citizens are happy and live longer, healthier lives than we Americans do. And the smarm argument, that it's because it is a small, homogenous country, implies that those making the argument would be unwilling to be social with those other people who are not like them, fellow citizens or not. The fact that we have a big diverse country is no excuse. It is a spurious argument. It's time we got a little social democracy, and along with it, happier and healthier citizens.

  223. @jaco One can, for instance, find universal healthcare in nations as big as China. It also exists in some small nations whose largest etnichal groups are minorities. Thus, comparisons between dissimilar nations are sometimes viable just because they can help clarify whether social homogeneity is an actual requirement for the implementation of certain social programs.

  224. @jaco OK, let's take the very diverse -- really, on a level with the USA (I was a student in London from '74-80), which had a very good National Health program. Whatever Denmark doesn't have in common with the US is not relevant to whether we in the US "can" have a national health service. Argument not valid.

  225. @jaco Now there you go again. That's the very argument I mentioned, remember?

  226. Paul Krugman, this is a good start to educating the public. i understand what you are saying here and that's good. I think the most important character that Bernie is bringing to the field of candidates is TRUTH. This seems in short supply lately, and if you can level with the American people and offer them a vision of a better outcome with our tax dollars - well, 99% of people are ready to listen.

  227. Sanders very consistently uses the term “democratic socialist”, reading as a kind of flip on the term “social democracy” – which correctly describes his policies imo. Of course it will be (and is being) used against him by Trump et al, but I don’t think that this criticism is particularly strong when it comes down to it – with Sanders having firmly standing by his ideology for decades, there is nothing particularly shocking or powerful in pointing it out. His critics will have to dig a bit deeper than that.

  228. agree !00%...I've been saying for months (years?) that Sanders should eliminate "socialist" from his vocabulary (even democratic socialist) just opens him up to attacks from the other side, and concerns even from some in his own party...also, stop the talk of Medicare for All, and free college, free child care, and canceling medical and student debt, etc....sure, lets promote some sort of universal health care (perhaps fixing the ACA), more affordable college, childcare, and lowering (or eliminating) interest on student loans...replace pie-in-the-sky ideas with common sense, practical proposals please...

  229. Unlike most Sanders supporters, I'd be more than happy to see Buttigeg win the nomination because I have the suspicion that he's pulling a reverse-Obama. President Obama moved to the center after his campaign, but everything in Buttigeg's history indicates that he's more liberal than he's letting on. He became the centrist candidate when he saw how weak Biden was and decided that was his best shot at winning. Before that he was advocating single-payer healthcare along with Bernie.

  230. @Thad ...and that is exactly what makes him untrustworthy...his McKinsey Consulting skills not withstanding he can flip flop like the rest of them in the Senate/Congress when it suits, so how do you think he'll stand up to the Lobbyists when they come calling ? Watching him at a Rally recently I honestly thought I was on a link to a TED Talk, white affluent guy in an expensive suit playing the room the same way Obama does, I mean that's who he is channeling right ? I came away thinking, so what the heck do you stand for ? Where are your grand designs, policies even ? Like Obama he will if elected soon be sucking up to Wall St, and those 'socialist' like ideas that he once had, which he probably hopes others have forgotten, will never surface again. He's just Joe Biden Lite I'm afraid...

  231. Bernie's making the same mistakes as die hard liberals have done in the past. He's delivering empty promises. Does anyone expect the top 1% and top corporations to pay for Medicare for All, free college tuition, Green New Deal, higher wages, etc. without a corporate backlash? Besides how much of it passes this Congress? The best way forward for Democrats is to go progressive, not off a cliff. But our candidates need to call out Donald Trump's cruel agenda more than eat their own. We need to address his attacks on our judicial system.

  232. @Larry Buchas Climate Change is a national emergency - between that and executive orders one can do a lot. And once Bernie is in power, he will push to make national injunctions illegal. I also wonder why all these ant-gun Democrats don't see the pro-gun Bernie positions of the past as a problem?

  233. @Paul - I agree climate change is the most pressing issue. I'm sorry I didn't emphasize it. But Republicans have left us a $25 trillion deficit with limited funds to work with. And don't forget neither party has cut our military budget. So YES, we will need a formative plan to take on climate change. I also suggest fixing Obamacare without destroying a half million private insurance jobs.

  234. "He doesn’t want to nationalize our major industries..." Except, of course, for the 20% of GDP we'll soon be spending on health care.

  235. @Arundo Donax Except for the fact that it would make so large of a saving for everybody, the healthcare bill would become only 11-12% of the GDP!

  236. Well, it makes it hard to believe coming from another Socialist, one who is acclaimed for his Economics knowledge even when he predicted the entire economy would collapse when Trump was elected. The exact opposite happened. We would believe maybe slightly more of what Paul Krugman has to say if he were to admit that he was wrong about Trump tanking the economy. One thing that is for sure, if Bernie is elected, he would tank the economy. And he's right that he's not just a socialist, he's also a Communist because he never took back the comments he made in his 30's when he asked for full government takeover all all industry. If that's not socialism, I don't know what is. Just because he plays one on TV, doesn't mean he is not a socialist. That's the problem, this Nobel Prize winner doesn't understand how logic works.

  237. @Ttt - Interesting. During all of those years since Bernie made those comments, I have seen Americans scream for the government to takeover or breakup American businesses. Remember Ma Bell? Now, they are calling for a breakup of Amazon or Facebook. And what is wrong with Communists? We buy everything we touch from them and bent over backwards to build up their country to the second largest superpower on the planet. But, we should be afraid of an old man who wants healthcare for every American?

  238. @tom harrison we don't want to give the government the power to enslave every American for the purpose of providing healthcare to everyone who doesn't work. That's why we are not a socialist country. We are not socialist because in general we do not think of goods and services as rights. As soon as we start thinking that those are rights rather than mere goods and services, then we become socialist and give up the means of production to the government who then fails miserably at what they promised to do while they were seeking power, and then everyone becomes equal in having no health care and no real education that is not propaganda.

  239. @Ttt This has nothing to do with Bernie's policies/ideology and isn't a very accurate description of 'social democrat,' either.

  240. Bernie is no socialist, which, as the article says, is far more radical than what Bernie says--a true socialist is more like Jeremy Corbyn, the UK Labour Party leader. The impression I'm getting is that the voters most likely to determine the November elections would not be too keen even on Danish socialism. Trump has got them riled.

  241. I’d like Sanders to hold a press conference and explain exactly how he will get Medicare for all through any congress we are even remotely likely to get. By making this his center point he’s just setting everyone up for disappointment, more political disillusion and apathy towards government...the very fuel that feeds the fire of conservative populism.

  242. Reminded again just today that US has one of highest maternal mortality rates - mothers dying while birthing - of all first-world countries. Why do I despair that of all those running for Presidency only the so-called "democratic socialist" or more accurately "social democrat" will effectively address to diminish that ongoing national tragedy?

  243. Enough with the 'populists' --- and yes, Sanders and Trump are both populists. The world needs true American leadership again, it needs a technocrat like Bloomberg.

  244. Can’t tell if this is parody?

  245. Bernie always corrects interviewers when they say he is a socialist - he quickly reminds them he is a Democratic Socialist. The reason Bernie is popular is because he doesn't care what the Republicans think about his policies. Democrat after Democrat soften their stance on issues because they are afraid of what the Republican attack lines will be. Well voters may not understand policy but they can certainly smell weakness. It's time we play by our own rules instead of kowtowing to theirs.

  246. This narrative will not survive for long in the real world. Sanders has a long, retrievable public record of admiring the USSR, not Denmark. While they were our enemy. He is called a Socialist because that's what he calls himself. He only caucuses with the Dems. And he doesn't want to nationalize any industries? Only the health care industry, so far as we know. If he is nominated it will be the end of the Democrat Party. And since there is no Republican Party anymore, this is not a bad thing.

  247. @Anthony Pastor Actually he has said repeatedly that he is for the nationalization of many industries, and his current platform advocates taking certain businesses and property. It's absolute madness that this guy is getting a pass. He is a socialist, and we will lose very badly if he is nominated.

  248. @Anthony Pastor Health care is not an "industry" anywhere else in the western world. We'll never have decent health care here until we stop thinking of it in terms of corporate profits and stock prices and not health outcomes and costs. We have a highly inefficient and grossly expensive for-profit system that serves greed first and health second. Your unfounded fear of communism is clouding your judgment.

  249. I don't have any problem with Bernie calling himself a democratic socialist. Many of our greatest Americans have similarly self-defined, including MLK, Einstein, Helen Keller, and oh, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the book for America's beloved Spielberg film, "The Color Purple" - Alice Walker. I could list a whole lot more acclaimed and respected thinkers, activists, writers and artists. Plus, whereever Bernie's politics fall (and I'm guessing, regardless of debate, he's correct) - his politics best define mine. And I've voted for plenty of centrists, corporatists, capitalists - I've compromised repeatedly as a voter, and I think they can compromise for a change. Bernie Sanders is the best candidate I've ever voted for in my 40+ years of voting as a Democrat. He's a once in a lifetime opportunity. The establishment is making a big mistake (and IMO heading to a big split) if they cheat him and his supporters out of another nomination as they did in 2016 with corporate media and vote and delegate rigging. Bernie's campaign is the largest, most authentically alive, diverse and progressive - where the real excitement, hopes, dreams and future of the nation lie. The movement that can beat Trump and carry America forward into the 21st C. Be happy about that and stop sabotaging if you truly want a better world and you truly want to beat Trump (instead of Bernie).

  250. The real danger Democrats face in this election is trying to please the "never-Trumper" Republicans with whom they have made common cause against Trump but with whom they share little else. Mayor Pete is the prime example of hewing to the right with his deficit talk in an attempt to broaden the coalition. And the spectre of Bernie "the socialist" looms large over the alliance. The "never-Trumpers" were among those cheering loudest for Biden to get in the race so a "centrist" would provide them with an acceptable candidate. This is one of the underlying reasons that the Trump Republicans have been willing to allow the despicable trashing of Biden's family. That one's about owning the "never-Trumpers" as much as defeating the Dems. Democrats need to stay true to their values and principles. It is not their responsibility to provide the ""never-Trumpers" with a home or to save the Republican party. If the Republicans are so concerned about Trump, let them support Bill Weld. Trump is the problem they foisted on all of us. Let them clean their own house before they start trying to divide our Democratic party.

  251. The problem is that presidents run on a legislative agenda, but presidents have only limited control of that agenda. They have to work with whatever congress is elected. They do have a lot of control of foreign policy and the regulatory state, though. I would prefer candidates to spend more time on how they would, for instance, add or subtract regulations in ways that would lower health care costs. As for Bernie, I worry that he's going to be much better at tearing things down than building them up, not unlike DJT. He may be an admirer or Denmark and Scandinavia, but it's the Denmark and Scandinavia of 30 years ago. If he were actually aiming at today's Sweden or Denmark, I'd be more impressed. I don't think Bernie really understands how market-oriented and capitalist a modern northern European social democracy really is. He keeps talking about companies giving shares to the government, and forcing workers onto boards. Yes, they do some of that in Germany and elsewhere, but they're starting to wonder if it actually achieves anything useful. Europe has moved on from the Europe that Bernie is aiming at. He's an old man with old ideas.

  252. @Tom Meadowcroft Social Democracy is so rooted in the social/economic fabric of Northern European countries, that as a Swede, I always say that every Swede is a social democrat. There is not one single person living there who would question the programs built up by Social Democratic ideals over decades, now almost a century. I agree that capitalism operate side by side with these ideals. And I have never heard Sanders talk of dismounting it in the US. He knows better than that. And he knows how the Nordic countries operate today.

  253. I agree that he is more of a Social Democrat and less of a Socialist, and yes, its Denmark and not Venezuela. But I challenge you to name one prominent continental European Social Democrat (NOT Labour) who has praised Fidel Castro, Nicaragua, and who has told his countrymen that they can learn a lot from the Soviet Union. There is NO ONE who will fit that description. The Soviet Union was far too close to have illusions about its political system. I grew up very close to the German-German border, thankfully on the good side of it. As a small child I asked my parents to explain why the beach at Travemünde was crowded and lively up to a point, and totally dead beyond that point. No one who grew up with these images would have believed in the virtues of Soviet style socialism, and no German (and continental European) Social Democrat ever did. There is enough footage of Sanders explaining the glory of the Soviet Union and its socialism to last for two Trump victories. I sincerely hope that the Democrats will nominate someone else. Anyone but Sanders...

  254. @Michael Yeah as a kid I visited east germany and east berlin right before the wall fell. It was night and day across that wall. So insane that he ever defended it, and that people are defending him or that form of government. We can only win when we are honest. Otherwise we are just like Trump and his crew.

  255. Bernie Sanders is neither a socialist nor does he play one on TV. The problem is the political science and civics challenged American voting public. Bernie Sanders is no different than your average Scandinavian capitalist Social Democrat politician. That means he is as compassionate, fair minded and egalitarian capitalist as that other candidate who said she's a capitalist in her bones. Capitalism doesn't have to be extractive. Capitalism doesn't have to be undemocratic and oligarchic. We can all do very well without doing it at the expense of "name your group of people" That is what Bernie Sanders represents. Everything else is distracting noise.

  256. @Rima Regas Dear Rima, Why does he continue to call himself a Democratic Socialist? If he would just say, I am a Social Democrat he could save himself and all of us Democrats a lot of wasted time trying to explain what he really is. But I think the reason he will never make such reasonable concession, is that he does self identify as a socialist. I viewed the speech he gave at Georgetown in 2015 and I have read his campaign web page and though he parses his words a bit it is clear he would be only too pleased to control the entire economy, if not by direct ownership then through massive regulation and also by dismantling industries he thinks are evil. Such regimes have always, always degenerated into corrupt totalitarian regimes. If he is the democratic nominee I will vote for him instead of Trump, but then I will do everything I can to thwart his socialist ambitions.

  257. @Rima Regas This is provably and objectively false propaganda. Sanders has said repeatedly he is for the state takeover of businesses and property. This is literally part of his platform. Stop saying this that are demonstrably FALSE. We are better than Trump and his gang. Aren't we?

  258. @J c Where do you get your news?

  259. My subscription to the NYT runs out tomorrow but I will leave you with this prediction for the fall. My own anecdotal evidence has shown a surge in people talking, enthusiastically, about Mayor Mike and yesterday no lesser than one of our greatest pollsters, Charlie Cook, said that he would predict that Mayor Bloomberg would, indeed, be the next Democratic nominee for President. Sanders had less support in New Hampshire than he did last time and when you count up the split vote the moderates got, it's simple math that a moderate would pull in 15% of Republicans while a Democratic Socialist will repel 15% of Democrats. Pete's too inexperienced, Amy reminds me of Clinton and Biden won't get past South Carolina with Bloomberg on the ticket. I'm not prejudiced against all rich people, just the greedy ones, so I don't think that will weigh him down as much as you might think. He's running neck and neck with Biden among black voters and he may, actually be, a stable genius. America is on the rocks, just like N.Y.C. was after 911, when he took over as Mayor and the idea of a steady hand at the till is more appealing to me than someone who wants to turn the boat over. I love Bernie and believe his ideas will be implemented in time, just not this time.

  260. @Rick Gage I’m thinking of cancelling my subscription. Mainly as a result of the timid double dip endorsement of Warren and Klobuchar. Interested to see you allowing yours to lapse. I’m tempted. Thanks for this insightful comment. For every wart Bloomberg has, Trump has a cluster of carbuncles. B can whack T on every issue. I think the Bloomberg campaign would be pleased with, and should adapt for campaign adverts, your comment about his being a stable genius. He is.

  261. " If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.” is the response a capitalist would give, not a socialist. He owns three homes in a state where families are homeless. He earned over a million dollars in one year and did not use it to support charities or organizations like Planned Parenthood. He is clearly not a socialist. He is a fraud.