Sen. Bernie Sanders defined the phrase "democratic socialist" in a speech at Georgetown University Thursday afternoon, in an effort to clarify the unusual moniker he uses to describe his worldview for confused voters.
Being a democratic socialist means believing that government must guarantee its citizens' material well being in order to truly protect their freedom, Sanders said, citing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
"Real freedom must include economic security. That was Roosevelt's vision 70 years ago. It is my vision today," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "People are not truly free when they are unable to feed their family. They are not truly free when their are unable to retire with dignity. They are not truly free when they are unemployed, underemployed, or when they are exhausted from working 60 or 70 years a week."
In appealing to the principles of freedom and "economic rights," in a phrase of Roosevelt's that Sanders quoted, the senator from Vermont tried to steal the thunder from his conservative detractors. His opponents also cite personal freedom, saying Sanders's vision of socialism would leave Americans less free to pursue their economic interests without interference from government. Under his agenda, for example, private health insurers and colleges would have to compete with government-sponsored insurance and education, and the rich would have to forfeit more of their earnings in taxes.