The argument is forcefully made. However, Sanders, as I understand him, isn’t claiming that his ambitious and costly program is realistic in today’s Washington. To the contrary, he says that the political system is so broken, and so in hock to big money, that it is virtually impossible to effect nearly any substantive progressive change. The only way to make big changes, Sanders argues, is to create a mass movement that faces down corporate interests and their quislings. Once this movement materializes, all sorts of things that now seem out of the question—such as true universal health care, free college tuition, and a much more progressive tax system—will become possible.
This, surely, is what Sanders means by the term “political revolution,” which he uses all the time. In a piece published on Thursday, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent highlighted two things that Sanders had told Andrew Prokop, a reporter from Vox. Speaking in Iowa last week, the Vermont senator said that real change only comes about “when people on the bottom begin to stand up and say enough is enough. That’s true of the civil-rights movement, it is true of the women’s movement, it’s true of the environmental movement, of the gay movement.” In an earlier interview with Prokop, Sanders had differentiated his approach from the President’s: “The major political, strategic difference I have with Obama is it’s too late to do anything inside the Beltway. You gotta take your case to the American people, mobilize them, and organize them at the grassroots level in a way that we have never done before,” he said.
All politicians talk about mobilizing the populace: Sanders has thus far done a better job of it than most. Building on the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the progressive networks that it spawned, he has attracted huge crowds to his events, signed up thousands of volunteers, and, at last count, attracted more than 2.5 million individual campaign contributions. That is very impressive, especially when you consider that Sanders was widely written off when he entered the contest last April.
I too feel like Bernie Sanders is the only candidate whose views I can really relate to, but I started this thread wondering what others felt.
Many Canadians I know have positive things to say about him and his plans and indeed around me I count many Sanders supporters among my American friends and co-workers.
I'm really surprised at his popularity right now and do hope that he wins -- on the one hand, they keep saying how hard it is to go against the establishment, but I also keep hearing about how his odds are getting better as he trends upward in the polls. Even if he doesn't win, I really hope his popularity sets a precedent for more progressive policies to be increasingly considered in the realm of possibility or better supported by the people.
On some topics, like that of decreasing inequality between Americans, better safety net, education, health care etc. I feel change can't come fast enough. I remember watching Obama being elected when I was a student sitting around in a US university and I know it sounds like a cliche, but as there was so much optimism around me, I naively expected at the time based on how I thought things were going, that the US might even be perhaps more like Canada than Canada itself in progressiveness (after all we had Harper then when Obama was elected), but reality turned out to temper such ideals as it is hard to move change forward in such a large and complicated country. However, since the US is so large and influential, if it does take a more progressive path, I personally think a lot of good can happen, including for Canada. I'm not jaded enough to refrain from holding out hope!
Yeah, I was actually surprised when the NDP last election shied away from its usual rallying cry. When someone like Sanders is bold enough to declare frankly that he supports socialist policies outright, which before everyone thought could kill any campaign stateside immediately, and campaigns firmly on it with conviction, it really leaves a lot to be desired for Canadians who supposedly have that reputation.
A good assessment. Of course Sanders sounds very radical in the US context.
I would say Sanders is pretty much ideologically identical to Ed Broadbent, who also focused on combating income inequality and expanding the welfare state, and also frequently pointed to the Nordic social democracies as a model.