Left-leaning columnist Harold Meyerson is excited at the prospect of Bernie Sanders, the socialist presidential candidate, creating in his growing cadre of followers, a genuinely leftist, revolutionary movement. Do you think America is ready for that?
From Harold Meyerson, Can Bernie Sanders’s followers create a true leftist movement? – The Washington Post:
Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign is different. He has refused to establish a super PAC. He shuns personal attacks. And, not incidentally, he proclaims himself a democratic socialist.
But there’s one further way in which his campaign fundamentally differs not just from those of the other candidates but also from any in many years: While striving to win votes, it also has to morph into an enduring left-wing movement.
When Sanders says — as he does in every speech — that he’s seeking to build “a revolution,” that’s not just rhetoric. What Sanders understands in his bones is that every period of progressive reform in U.S. history has come as a result of massive street heat, of energized movements that push policymaking elites to the left. Abolitionists pressured the Lincoln Republicans toward a policy of emancipation. Militant workers and a socialist left, whose general strikes shut down several major cities in 1934, prompted Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Democrats to legalize collective bargaining and create Social Security in 1935. The civil rights movement enabled the Kennedy-Johnson Democrats to pass the landmark legislation of the ’60s. Progressive reform doesn’t happen absent a large and vibrant left.
A large and vibrant left, however, has been missing from the American political landscape since the ’60s. Precisely because Sanders has staked out the most distinctly leftist terrain of any major candidate in decades, and because so many Americans (young Americans in particular) have rallied to his cause, his campaign holds the promise of recreating that missing left.