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Nate Jackson / Jul. 31, 2015

What's the Difference Between a Democrat and a Socialist?

It may only happen once in a blue moon, but MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked a good question. Speaking with DNC Chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Matthews wanted to know if Bernie Sanders, a self-declared Socialist, would get a prime speaking slot at the Democrat Convention when he loses the nomination to Hillary Clinton. Schultz said he would, which surprised Matthews. “What’s the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist?” he asked. “I used to think there was a big difference. What do you think it is?” All Wasserman Schultz could do is spin it to the question she wanted to answer — the difference between Democrats and Republicans. (And even that boiled down to “Democrats love everyone, but Republicans hate everything.”) She couldn’t answer because there is no difference between Democrats and Socialists. As American author Upton Sinclair wrote in 1951 to perennial Socialist presidential candidate Norman Thomas, “The American People will take Socialism, but they won’t take the label.” That’s why Democrats have adopted the platform but not the name, and it’s why the question left Wasserman Schultz stammering.

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