Is Bernie Sanders a Democratic Socialist? Or Just a Socialist? Q&A With Jim Pethokoukis

What would Sanders' vision of democratic socialism mean for the country?


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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) has rocketed to the top of the Democratic presidential primary field by proposing a massive expansion of government: single-payer health care, free public college tuition, student loan forgiveness, universal pre-K, and more.  

His plans could cost as much as $60 trillion dollars over the next decade, more than doubling the federal budget.

More than any single policy, however, Sanders has run on an idea: democratic socialism, with the economies of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden as models. 

At times in his life, however, he's also had kind words for socialist revolutionaries and regimes that are more authoritarian—although he has also condemned their harshest practices. 

So what is Sanders' vision of democratic socialism? And what would it mean for the country? To find out, Reason Features Editor Peter Suderman spoke with Jim Pethokoukis. He is the Dewitt Wallace Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he writes and edits the AEIdeas blog.

Interview by Peter Suderman. Edited by Ian Keyser. Intro by Paul Detrick. Cameras by Meredith and Austin Bragg.

Photos: Sen. Bernie Sanders rally, Bob Daemmrich/Polaris/Newscom; Sanders at podium, Michael Mullenix/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Sanders with hands in air, pointing, Aaron Jackendoff/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Sanders giving speech, Nancy Kaszerman/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Sanders at speech, Michael Vadon via CC license Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic; Dollars, ID 19971251 © Nicku |; TV, ID 36230840 © trekandshoot |; Sanders sign, TERRY SCHMITT/UPI/Newscom; Frame of picture L0051763/4—A philosopher with a celestial globe Wellcome Images Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0