Bill Maher got to feel the Bern — Bernie Sanders on Friday night’s Real Time. So much so, Maher unofficially threw his support behind the Vermont Senator’s bid for President.
Maher greeted Sanders for their interview by saying, “I want to help your campaign. I want to see you get the nomination. I want to see you be president.” If that comes with a $1 million check like it did for Obama is anyone’s guess. They quickly dived deep into the Sanders brand of “democratic socialism” and the fact that we’re already practicing a form of socialism in the United States today.
“My question for you is the word ‘socialist’ — I want to get right to this,” Maher said. “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 explained that most Americans need to be educated on what “democratic socialists” like himself want for government and what it means. “We want to deal with grotesque level of income inequality in America,” he said. “On every one of the major issues I am talking about, the American people agree.” Two examples of the public supporting a more socialist system are free public college tuition and raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
Maher agreed, but said that Republicans can’t understand it, and that most Americans don’t realize we have so much socialism so far:
“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!”
But Maher called for a reality check on the feasibility of the Sanders plans saying that even Vermont couldn’t pay for universal healthcare using only taxes for the one percent. There needed to be another revenue stream to support it.
“If you’re saying that the government is gonna pick up the tab,” Maher went on, “but not make the insurance companies, the hospitals, and the doctors not gouge people, then we are gonna break the budget. It has to work both ways.”
“The United States is the only major country on Earth that allows private insurance companies to make huge profits in the health care system,” Sanders replied. “The function of health care should be to provide quality care to all people, not to make huge profits for the drug companies and insurance companies.”
“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.
Republican heads are exploding all over America right now. For years, they’ve tried to hang the “socialist” label on so many Democrats that aren’t, in fact, socialist. Now a candidate is coming along telling Americans that he wants to actually give them a more democratic form of socialism, and people like it because it turns out folks actually want services from their government. Will the GOP call all Americans takers as a result? Remember Mitt Romney’s 47 percent line… That didn’t work out so well for him.
Republicans, by contrast, want as little government as possible unless it is to regulate your uterus or who you’re sleeping with. The convoluted argument is so extreme that those who embrace things like Social Security and Medicare, and want to see a bigger, adequately funded, robust Veterans Administration, are proof the citizenry can be moved with actual education on the issue.
The question is always, can you educate the country while running for president? Can you legitimately change enough voters’ minds and get your people out to vote? Bernie Sanders is going to try, and Bill Maher seems like he’s going to fight along with him.
Check out the interview below:
Feature image via video capture