01/22/2016 10:20 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Can a Socialist Candidate Win in Capitalist America?

This year is special for me because it will be my first time to vote.

I vowed to myself to honor this responsibility as thoughtfully as I can. And because of my due diligence, I get my highs and lows from observing presidential election campaigns.

It is interesting to see Sen. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, advance in approval ratings in America, whose economic heart pumps blood into an over-sized capitalist system.

And in my discomfort, I feel bad seeing Hillary Clinton, a woman, continue to bask in the political name of her husband and using the Obama administration as her political ace.

Sadly, she has not attracted substantial women's groups to her side.

And here is Donald Trump, an epitome of success in business, but with a super-sized ego and mind-blowing bigotry. I wonder who will win in this race.



Fox News' Gretchen Carlson raised a good question in her show last January 18, The Real Story, on how socialist is Sanders? How can people in Iowa and New Hampshire, in a recent survey, choose to believe in socialism over capitalism?

She was asking this in a contained surprise to a guest Craig Shirley, political analyst and author of three books on President Ronald Reagan. He said the responders may not truly understand what socialism is, due to failure of public education. He said the respondents could likely misunderstood socialist to being sociable or being in social media. I could not help but laugh at his comments.

I believe that the "democrat socialist" that Sanders calls himself does not mean the technical definition of socialism but something else -- something in the context of American society.

Socialism, that economic system where government owns and controls businesses and industries and allows to an extent and regulates small businesses, cannot exist in the US.

America is a capitalist country, founded on free enterprise and free trade and advancing the culture of the material world.

So what's this Sanders' branding himself as a democrat socialist? Is he envisioning socialism for America? I highly doubt that will happen.

His speeches clearly say he is up to stabilize America through progressive taxation reforms (based on the entity's ability to pay) and access to health and education. The battle cry 'access to health care and education is a right of every citizen' is something that even an elementary student could understand.

I would like to go back to the statistics which surprised Gretchen Carlson -- why Americans based on two surveys, have favorably chosen socialism over capitalism (43 percent vs. 38 percent in Iowa by Bloomberg/Des Moines Register Poll and 56 percent vs. 29 percent by The New York Times).

These days, it has become easy to see full-blown capitalism hurting the middle class and the low-income people, without departing from the belief in free enterprise.

College education is unaffordable to the majority. Students, including my only child, have to apply for student loans to go through college. Student loans have in fact become a big fat business.

Health care too has become staggering for small and medium businesses as well as middle income earners.

Taxation is ridiculously high for the same group of income earners. My daughter, a new entrant to the labor force, was taxed heavily that I had to loan money to be able to pay for her taxable income.

I found that strange and truly hurtful in the pocket.

In other words, the existing system at least in education, health, and taxation has become hurtful to the average citizen.

This could explain the surge of Bernie Sanders' popularity. He is understood by the average American. Having experienced being a mayor and legislator is a plus factor.


Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, remains the traditional politician to reckon with. Being a Clinton, she is a stalwart in politics.

But she has credibility issues (being too beholden to Wall Street, for one) that have eroded her popularity. She continues to hype that the Obama administration has delivered America from recession.

I do not think so.

On his first term, President Obama bailed out the big banks from bankruptcy using, of course, tax payers money. Call it pump priming, but these fresh capital did not translate into new businesses and solid economic foundation. We continue to see a lot of (old and small-scale) businesses fold up around the neighborhood. No need for sweet words, the small and middle businesses were left out in the bail-out.

To this day, Hillary has yet to solidly garner a substantial approval from women's groups nationwide. I believe she is too traditional a politician to be able to convince most women on the real deal on economic and gender equality.


Donald Trump continues to make me shiver looking at his flipped hair and how he could not help but position himself as nasty. He is a national embarrassment for his racist comments and arrogance, despite his track record of financial success.

As of now, the thrill is that Clinton will win narrowly in the Democratic primaries. But I certainly prefer to see to a presidential debate between Trump and Sanders. It will be more like a contest of the two sides of this great land: the capitalist America and the populist (no no, not Socialist) America.

It will be a tremendous learning experience for everyone. America must have come of political age by then. But for now, I am still checking around for candidates.

(The writer lives in New York and runs her own online magazine