Bernie Sanders has proven to be a surprisingly effective presidential candidate with a powerful message that’s now resonating with millions of people. He’s also in the unique opportunity to became a reformer and even a transformer. Whether he wins the nomination (and election) or not, his economic message will resonate within this generation and the next and could lead to another phase of glory like we witnessed during FDR‘s time, when the challenges seemed insurmountable.
As a candidate who has openly embraced the virtues of socialism both as a social activist and an elected official, Sanders must now step up his game. This is his time. He needs to sell not only himself along with his leftist ideology to a much broader segment of the American electorate than he’s managed to do so far — he must also mount an even higher pedestal as a teacher, lecturer, doctor, architect, and rabbi-preacher of sweeping political reforms and economic justice. How he ultimately performs in this unprecedented role as a bona fide presidential candidate sure to garner lots of curiosity and attention over the next six months may come to redefine the progressive movement. If he’s successful, it could even realign the American political establishment on levels not seen since FDR’s
new deal. That’s the form of “revolution” most people will believe in and support.
Whatever the outcome of the 2016 presidential race, liberals already owe a huge debt of gratitude to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and the legitimacy of his candidacy. For the first time since the 1960’s, self-identifying as a “liberal” or “leftist” is no longer socially toxic, nor politically suicidal. To the contrary — progressive ideas are credible. They’re not only mainstream, but widely popular among several demographic groups and in certain geographic regions. Without Sanders stumping away daily along the campaign trail, making his case to audiences who have never met a real socialist in the flesh, consistently on message, while often speaking until his voice cracks, one has to admit this would be a much different (and duller) political race were he not a candidate. This time around, there aren’t just glaring differences between the Democratic Party and Republicans. There are deep and clear divides within both parties as to basic philosophies and a greater sense of priorities.
Indeed, even though this political stew is made considerably more appetizing with the added ingredient of “democratic,” the overriding pungency of “socialism” remains allergenic when served at most American dinner tables. Never mind that socialism remains preposterously misunderstood and perniciously maligned, especially within the modern political lexicon.
Democratic socialism has proven to be an abundantly prosperous economic system when practiced within numerous countries across different continents. No, we don’t need more capitalism and less government, as the other side argues ad nauseum. Indeed, we need more democratic socialism. We need the next generation to step up and seize the torch — a new phase and a more modern version — of Golden Gate Bridges and Empire State Buildings that will endure into the next century.
For this to happen, we will need more education as to what democratic socialism truly means.
FOOTNOTE: The government programs listed above are but a small sample of “democratic socialism” in practice. Sen. Sanders can also cite the following — anti-trust laws against corporate and private monopolies….national parks, wilderness areas, and public beaches….Social Security Administration..Medicare and Medicaid….guaranteed student loans and federal grants to education….unemployment and disability benefits….Welfare and the Food Stamp Program….the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency….the Occupational Safety and Health Administration….and mass transit.
There’s more. As proof the principles of democratic socialism make all of our lives much safer and better, Sanders can add essential government programs including — the military….intelligence agencies…..public libraries….police protection….fire protection….US Postal Service….garbage collection….sewers….roads, highways, bridges and maintenance….vaccines….museums….public schools and universities….zoos….U.S. Food and Drug Administration….the Bureau of Mines…. PBS and NPR/NPR Music/NPR Books….snow removal and disaster relief….the CDC (Center for Disease Control)….streetlights….public defenders….emergency health care….the U.S. Census Bureau.….border patrol and customs….the Peace Corps….the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS)….and so forth and so on.