Believe it or not, America has a long tradition of socialism, especially in the race for president. But as of late, the “S” word has become nothing more than a dirty word thrown around by conservative politicians to scare voters away from electing liberals.
Bernie Sanders is not afraid of the “S” word. Sanders is an independent senator from Vermont who embraces the term democratic socialist without batting an eye; in fact the senator has a portrait of the great Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs hanging in his office. In the past, Sanders could have run for the Socialist Party of America, a party which boasted more than 100,000 members at the first half of the twentieth century, but for obvious reasons he has chosen to enter the 2016 race as a Democrat.
By entering the race with the Democratic Party, Sanders positions himself to debate Hillary Clinton and any other Democratic candidate who enters the race, bringing liberal and progressive ideals to the public stage and forcing those like Clinton to defend their center-right positions.
Sanders is no fool, he knows his candidacy is a long shot, but he should not be fully counted out just yet, as he noted just after announcing his campaign, people told him he could never be elected mayor and he did it, they said he could never unseat an incumbent Republican to become a congressmen and he did it, and then again they told him he would never beat the richest man in Vermont to become senator, and again, he did it. “Don’t underestimate me,” the senator told This Week host, George Stephanopoulos.
However, Sanders also doesn’t have a utopian view that socialism for the US is just around the corner. He sees his role in this race just as Eugene V. Debs did when he ran five times for president as a socialist, and that is to keep liberal politicians liberal and hold them accountable.
Clinton is now talking about finding solutions to income inequality while accepting donations from billionaires and CEOs whose roles in the US has done nothing but further the inequality she claims to want to end. The Republicans, on the other hand, are blaming public education and “broken” homes and even in some cases, same-sex marriage. Sanders, however, is “perpetually on the attack, armed with an unvarnished class-conscious message that, until the emergence of Occupy Wall Street, had long been absent from the public square,” says Michal Kazin for Dissent Magazine.
“The true greatness of a country is not measured by the sum of its millionaires and billionaires,” the senator’s website states. “Rather, a great nation is one in which justice, equality and dignity prevail for all.”
Sanders will say what Clinton feels she cannot or simply will not, he will rally the Democratic Party’s base for $15 minimum wage, to break up the big banks on Wall Street, he will continue to defend and help grow unions and make sure Democrats stand up for Social Security and do not allow the Republicans to overhaul it.
The Sanders campaign offers us something unique in US politics we have not seen in a long time, something that not even Ralph Nader could accomplish, and that is a politician who makes common sense arguments with real-world solutions and is in an actual position to take the main stage in front of millions of Americans to make the case for true liberalism heard and for the first time force politicians like Hillary Clinton to take a stand, either for progressive politics that put the American people first, or conservative politics and continue to fight for the rights of her billionaire donors.
With enough of a grassroots movement, Sanders will be able to show strong numbers in the primaries to show Clinton and any other rival that the American people want liberal politics and force the Democratic nominee to adopt policies that the voters want if they wish to have a chance at winning in November, 2016.
Sanders may be a long shot for president, but one thing is certain, his candidacy is going to change the Democratic landscape and he will make a lasting impact on a party that many feel is in desperate need of a push back to the left.
(Image: US Government / Public Domain / bernie.house.gov)