It’s Called Social Democracy, not Democratic Socialism

FDR Used Social Democracy To Save Capitalism, It Can Save It, Again

By: Sammy Quarrato

FDR’s economic philosophy has more in common with Sanders than Biden. Credit: openculture.com

People often hear the word democratic socialism and think of the names Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

People associate them with good things such as guaranteed healthcare for everyone, free higher education, a desirable income, the Green New Deal, anti-corruption, etc. 

However, others view them in a negative light with labels such as socialist, marxist, communist, ‘high taxes’, etc.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. People such as Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez subscribe to an ideology that on the global scale and historically speaking, is one that is considered moderate and even centrist.

This ideology isn’t even called democratic socialism, it’s called social democracy.

Social democracy is considered to be the last stop of capitalism, the most left you can go without completely diverging capitalism as a system.

Social democrats believe in a mixed-economy capitalist society where they take the rough edges off of capitalism by taking the basics off the table such as healthcare, education, varieties of paid leave, and more.

Social democrats strongly believe that to have a strong middle class and economy, you must have a strong social safety net, and vice versa.

They believe you cannot have one without the other, a strong working class cannot thrive without a strong social safety net and a strong social safety net cannot exist without a strong working class.

Other industrialized countries follow this type of ideology in their own ways. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland are all social democratic nations with the same concepts that social democracy describes.

These countries all believe that healthcare should be a right that you are born with rather than something you get due to privilege. They spend less per capita than we do and have longer life expectancies than our citizens.

Many of these countries also have tuition-free public college/university or incredibly affordable tuition fees.

The amount of money to spend on free public college would cost $48 billion a year, which is approximately $10 billion less than the amount of money Trump raised the military budget by excluding 2020.

We spend more than the next 10 countries combined, 50% of our yearly budget goes to the military, we’ve been in Afghanistan and Iraq for nearly 20 years, and the United States is more than capable of paying for college for everyone and eliminating all student loan debt.

President Biden has the authority to eliminate all federal student loan debt and add it to the national debt ($1.7 trillion and 42 million with fed. loans) and relieving Americans from the burden of paying exorbitant amounts of money to receive an education.

Other presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had gotten the United States out of the Great Depression, created Social Security, made the New Deal come to fruition, and supported troops during World War II would have supported the idea of a social democratic nation.

Roosevelt arguably helped the United States avoid a potential communist or fascist revolution from coming about due to the philosophy he implemented in his style of governing social democracy.

He even introduced an economic bill of rights known as the Second Bill of Rights. It stated that every American has the right to a job, an adequate wage and decent living, a decent home, medical care, economic protection during sickness, accident, old age, or unemployment, and a good education. 

If the name of Roosevelt was not attached to this economic bill of rights, you’d believe that Sanders was the one who wrote this; the thing is, they’re in agreement.

This is a way to remind Americans that social democracy is as American as apple pie. It’s currently being practiced in many other major nations, it’s the moderate position in substance and in public opinion, and is the right thing to do especially during an economic crisis that is comparable to the Great Depression.

Virtually every major social democratic proposal from medicare for all to tuition free-public college to making the minimum wage a living wage to raising taxes on the wealthy are all supported by the majority of the American people.

There’s a difference between a centrist in DC and a centrist in mainstream American opinion: one of them does not have a real ideology and is seen with disdain by Americans while the other is one that not only Democrats support, but also Independents and some Republicans do.

If the Democratic Party wishes to not commit the same mistakes that lead up to both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton losing their majorities in both the House and Senate by large numbers, Biden must not shy away from being popular.

Biden is no Sanders, nor is he anything like Roosevelt. He is a neo-liberal, but he does have the potential to be a better president than Clinton and Obama.

He has shown that he has learned some lessons from 2009 where the Democratic Party is now pushing a stimulus package through budget reconciliation and not attempting to do unity with people who want to water down this package.

The type of unity that Biden should commit to is one with the American people and if he wants to be successful in every political way possible, moving closer to social democracy is a much better path compared to corporate centrism or neo-liberalism.

Social democracy saved capitalism before, it can certainly do it, again.


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