I’m going to answer Chris Matthews here on the difference between a Progressive, like lets say Hillary Clinton, even if she’s a moderate one. And a Democratic Socialist such as Bernie Sanders.
But before I do that I just want to layout why Hillary probably didn’t answer the question. Assuming she’s the Democratic nominee for president she doesn’t want to offend the Far-Left. She’s going to need them in the summer and fall and not working and voting, if they bother to vote at all for Jill Stein. Who would be the Socialist third-party candidate for president for the Green Party. So she doesn’t want to paint Bernie Sanders at least not too hard as some radical Socialist. Who doesn’t represent America and what we stand for. And instead save those charges for the Republicans. Which was probably a smart play on her part.
I’m not running for any office this year. So I have the freedom to answer this question without worrying about offending anyone. When I think of Progressives, I think of Theodore Roosevelt, his cousin Franklin, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and go up today to Senator Sherrod Brown. People who don’t want a government big enough to take care of everyone, but want a government with the resources to see that everyone can succeed in America. And have the freedom to do that. People who believe in public infrastructure, public education, job training for low-skilled workers and the under-skilled unemployed. A safety net for people who truly need it. And there other things as it relates to civil rights, national security and foreign policy. But these are good examples.
Democratic Socialists, don’t trust the private sector and private enterprise. See capitalism as a crony way to make a lot of money from investments. Only support private enterprise to the point that they understand economics enough to know that you need a vibrant private sector in order to have a strong growing developed economy with a thriving middle class. So you’re not a Marxist state where there’s no such thing as property rights. With the state in control of everything. But with the central government responsible in seeing that everyone gets the basic services that they need to live well. Education, health care, health insurance, childcare, pension and other examples.
Progressives, believe in federalism, checks and balances, put real limits on what the Federal Government should be doing in the economy. Believe in a regulatory state, but not an unlimited one. The Socialist, their ideology is all about not just the state, but the national state. No such thing as taxes being too high with all the services that people get in return. According to the Democratic Socialist. Believe in more of a unitarian government where most of the government power is with the national government. Socialists believe that wealth and being rich are bad things. Because it makes you unequal from people who aren’t wealthy.
There are actual differences between a Progressive, again in the New Deal or Great Society sense. And a Democratic Socialist who didn’t emerge strongly in the Democratic Party until really when Senator George McGovern became a national player in the party in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But Progressives have been around in the Democratic Party at least since Woodrow Wilson if not farther. And they’ve never believed that the American form of government is flawed. And that we need to move a Scandinavian social democratic government where a lot more power is centralized with the central government.