Sen. Bernie Sanders sat down with Real Time's Bill Maher to discuss the fact that America is already a quasi-socialist country and whether or not he can bring along any Republican voters if he wins the presidential nomination.
I was happy to see when Maher introduced Sanders, and asked them to applaud for who they are supporting in the primary race, that the members of his audience were not going to sit on their hands and refuse to vote for Clinton if she's the one that ends up getting the nomination rather than their preferred candidate. No matter what happens in the primary race, we can't afford to have another Republican in the Oval Office any time soon.
Here's more from Bustle on the interview: Bill Maher Endorsed Bernie Sanders For President & It Was A Big Night For The Self-Proclaimed Democratic Socialist:
Within minutes of sitting down with Sanders, Maher had already begun digging for serious answers. "My question for you is the word 'socialist' — I want to get right to this," said Maher. "Because I want to help your campaign, I want to see you get the nomination, [so] we have to teach Americans what this is ... I don't think most Americans realize that they're already socialists."
Sanders then replied that Americans needed to fundamentally understand the things that democratic socialists like himself hoped to achieve. "We want to deal with grotesque level of income inequality in America," Sanders said, citing one example. "Very few people think that [this] is acceptable [...]."
In a surprising move, Maher then challenged Sanders' assertions. "I think [Republicans] hear [what you're saying], but it doesn't compute that that's going to be solved by socialism," said Maher, adding that the way to win over voters wary of the term "socialist" was to show them that the majority of government funded programs they supported were, in fact, socialist. Maher continued,
Socialism is the programs they already like. They like Social Security. That's socialism. They like Medicare. They like the VA. They like the military. It's already a socialist country. ... We have to un-demonize that word. ... [The number of people who say they'd vote for a socialist] is at the bottom [of the list] — they hear "socialist", they hear "herpes", Bernie!
For the greater part, viewers and Twitter users seemed to agree, with many tweeting instances of everyday socialism. "If you took your children to public school today you participated in socialism," wrote one Twitter user, watching Sanders' interview. Added another, "During the Cold War we did a good job scaring and redefining words like 'communism' and 'socialism'."
Throughout the remainder of the evening, Maher continued to press Sanders on the issue of democratic socialism, inquiring as to how Sanders might suggest funding the majority of his proposed changes, like paid family leave, free public college tuition, and healthcare for all. "You're saying we can pay for all of this without raising taxes on anyone but the 1 percent?" Maher asked.
"We may have to go down a little bit lower than that, but not much lower," Sanders replied.
Sanders was also hopeful his economic message can appeal to Republican voters and voters in red states. I guess we'll find out before long once the voting in the primary begins.