It sounds like Norman Thomas who I’m familiar with the name and know he was a Socialist, but not very familiar with. But what I gather from this debate with Senator Barry Goldwater, was that Norman Thomas was arguing for democratic socialism. Not communism, or Marxism, but basically what’s common in Sweden. Private enterprise, mixed in with a very generous welfare state funded by high taxes, to help deal with income inequality and providing services they don’t trust the private sector to provide. Debating a real Conservative in Barry Goldwater, who argued for individual freedom pure and simple. That it’s not the business of government to try to control how people live. As long as they are not hurting anyone with what they are doing. And Socialists today, even though they prefer to be called Progressives, share a lot of the democratic socialist principles that Norman Thomas and other Socialists have been arguing for, for at least a hundred years now.
I think you would have a very hard time telling the differences between Norman Thomas back in the early 1960s when this debate was done and Senator Bernie Sanders today. That capitalism and private enterprise aren’t bad things and that they are even necessary. But they would argue that the problems with capitalism and private enterprise is when it comes to the distribution on wealth in America. That the resources in the country, meaning the money in the country, tends to be aimed at the top. With people at the top doing very well. And leaving a lot of people at the bottom with not much if anything. So what you need is a central or federal government to step in and provide the resources for people who need it who weren’t able to obtain it in the private economy.
So you need, well a big government, according to the Democratic Socialist, big enough to see that everyone is taken care of. Let people make a lot of money, but then tax them fairly high so people at the bottom don’t have to go without and live in poverty. Which is where the welfare state, or even superstate comes in. That you need a big government to make sure that everyone is taken care and doesn’t have to go without. But also to provide services that shouldn’t be for-profit and be trusted with the private sector. Things like education, health care, health insurance, child care, retirement, perhaps energy and banking as well. Plus and social insurance system for people who become unemployed, disabled, or are part of the working poor, or low-skilled and not working at all. This seems to me at least, what Gordon Thomas’s politics was about.