The Inequality of Support in Bernie Sanders’s Campaign

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders — socialist or democratic socialist?.

More Americans say they would vote for a Muslim or an atheist for president than they would for a socialist, according to a recent Gallup Poll. When Bernie Sanders attended the University of Chicago in the early 1960s, the campus was a bastion of political progressivism — one that nurtured the socialist positions the U.S. senator and presidential candidate now trumpets. “The U. of C. had a reputation of radicalism during the 1950s.I read another Dennis Thompson humorous Letter to the Editor titled, “What has socialism done for you?” It should have been titled, “What it has done to You?” Thompson must be a fan of socialist Bernie Sanders, who is also a fan of communism. Its political connotation resonates from a time when paranoia and fear were so widespread in this nation that in one instance the American government resorted to placing hundreds of liberal Hollywood artists on a blacklist simply due to their alleged — and often unfounded — ties to the radical left.

I’m not afraid of the word,” he said in an interview with The Nation published in July. “When I ran for the Senate the first time, I ran against the wealthiest guy in the state of Vermont. Bernie Sanders has described himself throughout his career. “They laughed at Bernie Sanders when he ran for mayor, not just because he was a brash outsider from Brooklyn, neither Republican nor Democrat, but because he was an avowed socialist,” said an NBC News report in 1985, the day Sanders was sworn in for his third term as Burlington mayor. For some activists, Sanders’ past organizing is not sufficient evidence that the Vermont senator best represents issues important in black communities.

Maria Svart, DSA’s national director, told the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday that its super PAC spent $10,200 supporting Sanders’ candidacy since July. Claire McCaskill — widely seen as a proxy for Sanders rival Hillary Clinton — used the S-word, questioning whether the media have done enough to expose Sanders’ true political leanings. “I think the media is giving Bernie a pass right now.

I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he is a socialist,” McCaskill said. “I think he would like to see Medicare for all.” Guilty as charged, says Sanders. As president of CORE, he spearheaded sit-ins, pickets and protests related to racial inequality, the most visible of which was two weeks of sit-ins at the office of university President George Beadle over segregationist policies at university-owned apartments in Hyde Park. “We feel it is an intolerable situation when Negro and white students of the University cannot live together in university owned apartments,” Sanders told the student newspaper, The Maroon, in January 1962. “Of the people at these meetings, he was particularly interested in policy questions, like what should the government do about civil rights or nuclear weapons,” said Michael Parker, who participated in some activism with Sanders. “He was talking about solutions, as opposed to just problems.” Sanders helped set up a system for filing complaints concerning discrimination in university housing. To illustrate, let’s use the Gini coefficient, a popular measure of inequality, traditionally used to measure the distribution of income across a country.

And after the administration backpedaled on promises to hold discussions on policy changes, Sanders set up tables in Mandel Hall where students could submit ideas on how the university could become more inclusive, according to Maroon accounts. “Bernie was clearly a leader,” said Mike Edelstein, who served on CORE’s executive committee when Sanders was involved. “He was taken seriously. Candidates cannot “have” super PACs in a strict sense, since they are generally legally prohibited from coordinating with campaigns, a prohibition the limits of which Hillary Clinton’s campaign has bypassed by coordinating directly with a super PAC that it says is not bound by that prohibition. Yet, while Sanders is indeed a politician who leans significantly left on a wide variety of issues, media sources — through their fervor surrounding the idea of socialism — have painted a wildly hyperbolic picture of the presidential candidate. I’ll spare you the math, but the measurement is on a 0-to-1 scale, where zero would mean that every person has an equal amount of income and one would imply that a single person has all of the income).

You couldn’t take him for anything else because, like now, his humor is not his foremost trait.” Considered a long shot for the presidency by political analysts, the self-described Democratic socialist initially focused his campaign on economic inequality. Neither Sanders’ campaign nor the DSA, which also professes distaste for the post-Citizens United campaign finance regime, returned requests for comment. “Those who wish to promote the goals of democratic socialism should consider taking concrete and specific actions at the grassroots level that would support Sanders’ candidacy.” The largest pro-Sanders expenditures from DSA’s super PAC have gone toward fundraising efforts.

But we found many examples of Sanders describing himself as a democratic socialist, a specific type of socialist who wants public ownership of the means of production (which means the tools and money to make things) and a democratic political system. But a series of cases involving authorities and African-Americans, including the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the death of Naperville resident Sandra Bland in a Texas jail after a controversial traffic stop, has put the spotlight on racial issues. That’s because, like Sanders, most democratic socialists use the terms interchangeably, said Joseph Schwartz, vice-chair of the Democratic Socialist Party of America. “When Bernie is asked, ‘Are you a socialist?’ he doesn’t deny it, and he immediately talks about Scandinavia. Sanders and other Democratic presidential candidates have been criticized by civil rights advocates, including leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, who say the candidates have not adequately addressed these issues.

In response, Sanders has pointed to his background in the civil rights movement in college, including his participation in the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. Sanders has consistently proclaimed through his long tenure as a politician that his “socialist” ideology extends little beyond a sentiment of empathy for the rapidly disappearing middle class and an acute disdain for corruption and power-mongering among the nation’s financial elite. To some, that distinction is more crucial politically, given America’s allergy to another type of socialism, the non-democratic kind of the former Soviet Union. After the confrontation, Sanders became visibly upset, saying “black lives of course matter, and I’ve spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity.

Sanders’ vision for a nation governed by democratic socialism is — at its core — an expression of a desire for every American citizen to have the right to live a fulfilling and comfortable life, regardless of his circumstance. The word “socialism,” after all, has been historically associated with the Cold War, gulags, and failed empires, argued Thor Benson, a journalist who wrote the piece “Stop Calling Bernie Sanders a Socialist” in The New Republic. “We have a history of terrible propaganda against socialism and also communism, so it’s likely people will misunderstand what you mean. Marxist theory says socialism is the transitional stage between capitalism and communism. “What am I trying to do in this campaign is to tell Americans what many of them don’t know: that the benefits for working people are a lot, lot stronger in many other countries around the world,” he has said. The Sanders campaign recognizes money interests play a regrettably large role in the governing of the United States, as billionaires like the Koch Brothers can practically buy elections in exchange for favors from elected officials, and a dollar in someone’s pocket has more leverage than his human critical capacity. When you refer to Sanders as a ‘democratic socialist,’ people are more likely to go look that up and try to figure out what he’s about,” Benson told PolitiFact.

Those governments support paid sick leave, universal health care and free higher education. “How many Americans know that in virtually every major industrialized country people are guaranteed vacation time, paid vacation time? A 2011 report by the Pew Center shows that while most Americans still view the word negatively, 49 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds reacted positively to socialism (compared with 46 percent who viewed capitalism positively). Thompson, I guess being part of the local Democrat Party did not work out for you, so I assume you are a member of the local Socialist/Communist Party. Experts told us that that’s because the word itself has evolved, “untethered from its original meaning,” said Samuel Goldman, who studies the history and philosophy of political thought at George Washington University. Multiple socialist student groups also existed at the school, and renowned political theorist Hannah Arendt spoke on campus about the conditions needed to spur revolution.

With these positions, Sanders is technically a social democrat — he isn’t calling for a red revolution, just “a way of making capitalism humane,” according to Peter Dreier, a leftist political theorist at Occidental College. Basically he’s for more entitlements for the middle class. …That’s not the classical 19th century Marxist understanding or even the 20th century one. Sanders is in striking distance of Hillary Rodham Clinton in Oregon and Wisconsin — and a second New Hampshire poll shows him leading — there are vast swaths of the country where Mr. That same day, CORE also picketed the Howard Johnson’s restaurant at 87th Street and Cicero Avenue after executives refused to adopt nondiscriminatory policies.

While Sanders’ actual views “would have been pretty typical of Democrats in the 1950s, particularly those with connections to organized labor,” he makes socialism more appealing by associating it with popular policies, according to Goldman. “In a way, Sanders is reclaiming a term that was used discredit his political ancestors,” Goldman said. “Conservatives argued that minimum wage laws and Medicare were socialist measures. In one column titled “Sex and the Single Girl—Part Two,” he argued that by imposing curfews and room checks for women, the school was regulating the sex lives of students. “It must be stated in the strongest possible terms that no group of men should be given the power to believe that they can regulate one of the most important aspects of human life,” Sanders wrote. Those supporters can give him the donations and volunteers he needs to build a strong organization to compete for voters in areas where he isn’t so strong. It’s a theory that’s not too different from trickle-down economics, which holds that wealthy investors, free of taxes and burdensome regulations, can invest in growing industries that ultimately produce jobs and a better life for the rest of the population. Sanders’s big organizing efforts in San Francisco, Seattle or New York would do much to improve his numbers in Charleston, S.C., or Detroit, any more than the dynamic postindustrial economy of San Francisco has helped the workers remaining in Detroit.

Many moderate and less educated voters do not pay much attention to politics, and usually end up siding with well-known establishment figures against reformist candidates. Sanders’s message might ultimately resonate with moderate, older, Southern and nonwhite Democrats (he is increasing his efforts to reach out to black voters, for example).

Whether he’s doing so — not whether he has great crowds — is the real measure of his success, just as the real measure of the economy is the success of the average worker, not the opulence of the 1 percent.

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site