Recently, an article over at Salon, authored by John Avignone, criticized the “naive” supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who is running for President. Among other ill-informed opinions around Sanders’ campaign and positions, Avignone criticizes supporters by saying there are no examples of Sanders’ positions working.
Pulling from an article written by Duke Law School professor, Jedidiah Purdy, Avignone states:
But while [Purdy] insists that quixotic insurgent campaigns based on ideological purity work, it’s impossible to miss that he doesn’t say exactly when. He doesn’t cite any campaigns that back up his assertion. The reason why is simple. There are none. As much as Purdy and Sanders supporters wish it were true, this strategy has never worked and likely never will.
Okay, so what is Sanders’ position around change that Avignone thinks will not work?
Let’s start with Sanders’ policy around financing and growing the middle class. According to a Guardian article, Sanders feels there is income inequality which is demolishing the middle class and detrimental to the growth of the nation. As it just so happens, in Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton raised taxes from 7.85% to 9.85% on those making over $150,000 a year, or $250,000 a year in a joint marriage tax filing. This brought in an increase of $2.1 billion. Coupled with agreeing to raise the minimum wage to 9.50 (by 2018) and even passing a law to guarantee equal pay for women.
Sounds an awful lot like positions Sanders holds (except raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2020). And Governor Dayton inherited a $6.2 billion deficit, 7 percent unemployment, and a job creation rate of 6200 jobs from the previous Governor, Tim Pawlenty. Dayton, through his efforts to utilize these same financial plans Sanders did, added 172,000 jobs, decreased the unemployment rate to 3.6%, and average residents of Minnesota had an income that was $10,000 higher than the national average.
Another criticism Avignone gives is that Sanders, in 1991 at least, is
…he’s self-righteous and unwilling to entertain any position or belief that doesn’t exactly match his. Back in 1991, when Bernie was still new to Congress, progressive icon Barney Frank said of him, “Bernie alienates his natural allies. His holier-than-thou attitude—saying in a very loud voice he is smarter than everyone else and purer than everyone else—really undercuts his effectiveness.”
The piece Avignone leaves out? That Sanders alienated (and did so to both Republicans and Democrats) those who worked to support the wealthy! It honestly doesn’t sound too far off from the Senator we see and hear about today!
And Avignone says Sanders is leading by “revolution”, as opposed to Clinton’s more moderate, middle-of-the-road politics. And he thinks this doesn’t work? I have one name for Avignone: Justin Trudeau.
The Prime Minister from Canada has been in his position for under a year, and what a difference he has made with his progressive, revolution-like ideas! This includes forming a party that is adamantly pro-choice, even vying to not allow liberal candidates to run for office if they were anti-abortion. He also is for marijuana legalization, he identifies as a feminist and advocates for gender equality and equal pay. Oh, and he announced, the day he was sworn in, that he would cut taxes for the middle class and raise them for the 1%.
You wanted examples, Avignone? You got ’em! Don’t kid yourself with thinking the things Senator Sanders advocates for are extreme, naive, or unattainable (Robert Reich has thoroughly debunked that idea). And, please, stop writing off the movement of Sanders’ supporters. We know more than you think.
photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons