What is social democracy and why am I a social democrat?


Evan Mulligan

The rose, one of the most common symbols of social democracy.

Evan Mulligan, Staff Writer

Social democrat is a relatively unknown term within American politics compared to terms such as liberal, conservative, libertarian or even democratic socialist.

I would describe it as a political philosophy that is supportive of an extensive social safety net and government regulation to promote social justice within the context of a democratic state and a market economy.

In terms of how social democratic economics works, it generally involves an extensive and universalized welfare state. What this means in comparison to other forms of welfare programs is that benefits are available to every citizen regardless of their economic status. 

Social democracy policies also ensure the rights of workers to unionize and collectively bargain. A strong regulatory framework also protects consumers and the environment.

Some of the specific policies commonly associated with this type of economic program are universal health insurance, affordable higher education and state-mediated negotiations between labor unions and employers.

What these policies are intended to do is create a sense of social solidarity because everyone in society has some incentive to maintain the system. Most people would probably be inclined to vote for politicians that would maintain that system.

Examples of where similar systems exist are in countries like Denmark and Sweden.

So why am I a social democrat? It is essentially because I believe America should have an economic structure that both works for the people and is capable of producing a large quantity of wealth in a way that helps the people.

Why we should strive for such a system, and why I believe so strongly in social democracy, is because of the benefits such a system would have in reducing poverty and inequality, along with securing dignity for the common person.

In my view the workers should have the right to unionize and collectively bargain, we should also have publicly funded healthcare to ensure everyone can get the care they need and some degree of publicly funded higher education should also be implemented to ensure that everyone who wishes to can go to university without worrying about crushing student debt can do so.

I believe that we must fight for an America where everyone can pursue a good and dignified life, and one where no child has to worry about going to bed hungry and one where homelessness is practically nonexistent.