- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders defined his ideology of democratic socialism in a CNN town hall speech Monday night, saying he supports “human rights” that include a living wage and free college tuition for every American.

“Me, when I talk about democratic socialism, what I’m talking about are human rights and economic rights,” Mr. Sanders said.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who moderated the event, asked the Vermont Independent to respond to President Trump’s repeated attacks on socialism. The president declared during his State of the Union address earlier this month that “America will never be a socialist country.”

Mr. Sanders said the country is heading in that direction whether the president likes it or not.

“If I am elected president, we will have a nation in which all people will have health care as a right, whether Trump likes it or not,” the senator said. “We are going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. We are going to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of at least 15 bucks an hour.

“And whether Trump likes it or not, when I talk about human rights, you know what that also means? It means that our kids and grandchildren have the human right to grow up in a planet that is healthy and habitable,” he continued. “And it is really a disgrace and an embarrassment that we have a president who rejects science, who does not even understand that climate change is real and caused by human activity.”

During the Q&A, Mr. Sanders was prompted by a woman in the audience to explain why democratic socialism “is preferable to capitalism.”

“Right now we have a nation which prides itself on a lot of political rights,” Mr. Sanders explained.

The senator said that while constitutional rights like freedom of speech and freedom of religion are “enormously important,” it’s a problem that there are no economic guarantees.

“We don’t have guarantees regarding economic rights,” he said. “We’ve got to understand that everybody needs a decent paying job, that people need health care, that people need an education … These are not radical ideas.

“So what democratic socialism means to me is having in a civilized society with the understanding that we can make sure that all of our people live in security and in dignity,” he added.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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