Senator Bernie Sanders plans to mount a vigorous defense of his brand of democratic socialism Wednesday, arguing that it is not the authoritarian bogeyman Republicans and the Trump administration have attempted to cast it as.
By "democratic socialism," Sanders means that "in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights," he will say in an address at George Washington University on Wednesday, according to prepared remarks.
"What I'm talking about tomorrow is not particularly radical," the progressive presidential candidate said ahead of the speech.
"It's important not only for the senator to explain what his philosophy is and what he believes to be the major social ills in this country, but also the fact that he strongly believes that when you fight the oligarchy in the ways he's going to lay out, that people respond to it and it's good politics," said Faiz Shakir, Sanders's campaign manager.
Sanders insisted that democratic socialism has nothing to do with authoritarian communism, adding that he believes in a "vibrant democracy."
"I have been a fierce opponent of all forms of authoritarianism whether it existed in the Soviet Union, whether it exists in China, whether it exists in Saudi Arabia, wherever it exists," Sanders said in an interview with Politico ahead of the speech. "I must tell you that I find it a little bit hypocritical for people to try to suggest that I don't believe in a democracy at the same time as you have Trump supporting and loving, apparently, Mohammad bin Salman, a dictator of the worst kind in Saudi Arabia, and Putin in Russia."
In the speech, Sanders also plans to attack what he sees as the hypocrisy of Wall Street, citing the bank bailout prompted by the 2008 subprime-mortgage crisis.
"Wall Street's religious adherence to unfettered capitalism suddenly came to an end," Sanders's will say. "Overnight, Wall Street became big-government socialists and begged for the largest federal bailout in American history."