The American Welfare Candidate
BY SARA HØYRUP
There is no doubt about it: Bernie Sanders loves Denmark, and Denmark loves him right back. If it were up to the Danes, this mild-mannered gentleman would be leading the world’s only superpower. So why is the entire globe stuck with the man with the orange skin color and the dubious mental state? And does the left-leaning candidate Sanders stand a chance this way around?
Danish-American David S. Miller and Deborah Shields are both Democrats. While Miller is a strategic communications consultant based in Denmark, Shields is a conference interpreter recently returned to their native US. They have strong, personal views on the matter.
“Bernie has a good chance of becoming president," says Milller. "I believe more in Bernie’s polices than any of the other current Democratic candidates."
"I call him 'Bernie the Destroyer'," counters Shields. "He was part of the reason Hillary Clinton lost the election. He should have given up much earlier, and he should have told his followers to vote for Clinton."
Miller on the other hand blames the Clintons for the current lack of convincing candidates in the right age frame:
"Because the Clintons sat so heavily on the Democratic Party from 2000 to 2016, the party has not built up a back bench. My only problem with Bernie now is that he will be 79 on Inauguration Day, and 87 at the end of a second term.”
Shields insists on the dangers of opting for Sanders:
"I think whether Trump wins the next election depends completely on who we pick as the Democratic candidate. Anyone too far out to the left might just mean Trump would win again."
The missed chance
Both Miller and Shields decry the Democrats' defeat in 2016:
“Bernie started campaigning far too late the last time around. Had he acted in time, he just might have beaten Hillary in the primaries and beaten 45 not only in the debates, but also in the General Election,” states Miller.
So who is “45”? The man reduced to a number is Donald Trump, America’s 45th President, whom many Americans refuse to call by name out of pure disdain. Unlike Bernie Sanders whom many refer to by his first name in an expression of trust and proximity.
“45 is a populist with a negative message of fear and hate, while Bernie is a populist with a positive message saying let us make life good for all people," explains Miller. "Hillary was not a populist; she played by the rules, while 45 did not. He 'won' the Electoral College vote, not the popular vote.”
The Danish model
Bernie Sanders’s program is the closest the US comes to the welfare model that is held as holy in Denmark. The people populating the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave tend to be highly suspicious of Big Government, while the Danes have handed over their individual freedom and initiative to the nanny state.
”Bernie often cites Denmark as a model," Miller points out. "His ideas stand out in an American context, but public universities and public healthcare, and taxing the rich heavily are not actually new policies.”
"I think Bernie should take comfort in the fact that he has moved the Democratic Party as a whole to the left," says Shields.
A Social Democrat
Exactly how scared is the general American public of anything remindful of socialism?
“They are not scared. And it is not socialism," emphasizes Miller. "It is democratic socialism, which is basically building safeguards into a capitalist system, so the middle class, the poor, and vulnerable people do not suffer. Everyone benefits. Free college tuition for instance means that employers get highly educated employees whose education has been paid for by society."
"I wish he would drop the 'democratic socialism' term. He means 'social democrat'," establishes Shields, whose professional background makes her very careful with the exact use of words. "Socialism means the state owns the means to production. Social democracy is compatible with a market economy, while socialism is not."
And in that she actually agrees with Miller. Shields expands:
"The Republicans are using the bogeyman term 'socialism' to scare their voters away from the Democrats. It is ridiculous, especially considering the fact that most of them could not define 'socialism' if their lives depended on it."
An honest man
What makes Bernie Sanders different from the other candidates opposing Trump?
"He is still not a member of the Democratic Party," Shields points out. "And his followers remind me a little too much of Trump's in their fanaticism."
"He is an independent who votes with the Democrats in the Senate," explains Miller. "And unlike other candidates, he believes in what he says. Unlike other candidates, he is for the most part honest. And although his policies are considered progressive in the U.S., most of them are really mainstream centrist policies in any other industrialized country.”//