Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism an Opportunity to Critique the Excesses of Capitalism

Posted Nov. 4, 2015

MP3 Interview with Richard D. Wolff, professor of economics at New School University's graduate program in International Affairs, conducted by Scott Harris


The unexpected strength of Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for president has surprised many beltway pundits and political insiders. Not long before the 2016 campaign got underway, Hillary Clinton was predicted to be the heir-apparent for the nomination after her narrow loss to Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries. But Sanders has attracted passionate support across the country, especially from young people, with his message denouncing economic inequality and the urgent need for a peaceful political revolution challenging unchecked corporate power.

After being elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981, Sanders went on to win Vermont’s sole congressional seat in 1990. After serving 16 years in the House, the Brooklyn, New York native won election as Vermont’s junior senator in 2006 and re-election in 2012. Throughout his political career, Bernie, as he’s affectionately known, has always described himself as a “democratic socialist,” extolling the virtues of the four Scandinavian nations’ mixed economies that supports generous social welfare programs, such as free higher education and universal healthcare.

In the early days of the Democratic campaign, Clinton's surrogate, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill accused Sanders of being an extremist candidate and complained that the news media rarely mentioned that the Vermont senator was a “socialist.” Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Richard D. Wolff, economics professor at New School University’s graduate program in International Affairs, who explores the definition of socialism as discussed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and changing perceptions about socialism and capitalism among a new generation of Americans.

Richard D. Wolff is author of the book, “Capitalism's Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown 2010-2014." For more views on Bernie Sanders' campaign for president and democratic socialism, visit

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