Does Bernie Sanders Even Know What Socialism Looks Like?


Democratic presidential candidate, and self-avowed socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, is getting attacked by an unlikely place—the country Denmark.

Sanders has used Nordic countries like Denmark as a leading example of what a socialist United States could look like. The Danes are sick of being called socialist.

“I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, in a speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

“Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”

Rasmussen added that while “the Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security to its citizens… it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”

But this isn’t just a fight over semantics—even Forbes magazine recently called Denmark the most business-friendly country in the world in 2014. (The United States ranked a distant 18th.)

The conservative Heritage Foundation also ranks Denmark as the most “economically free” country in the world—a far cry from what Bernie Sanders plans to inflict on the United States.

While Denmark does have a large social welfare net, many of these programs aren’t like the ones Bernie Sanders and his allies on the Democratic Left advocate. They’re not handouts—but some are, rather, programs designed to train the unemployed to do new jobs, meaning they’ll get off the national dole quickly, and back into the workforce.

Denmark also spends heavily on adult education, to ensure that workers don’t get left behind—and can continue to progress in their careers.

Coupled with a flexible labor market, unlike Bernie Sanders’ favored union-backed rigid market, Denmark isn’t the socialist utopia that American liberals think it is. In fact, the Washington Post even admits that Denmark is pretty good at playing the free market game: “This is not big brother socialism,” said the Post. “This is really smart capitalism.”

Morgan is a freelance writer for a variety of publications covering popular culture, societal behavior and the political influences of each.