Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist. I am a green democratic socialist. Most of us are to some extent democratic socialists (or socialist democrats). We believe that by pooling our resources for the common good through a government that is elected by and for the people, we can accomplish great things together. People feel this deeply. The fact that most of us are actually social democrats will launch Bernie Sanders into the presidency.
There is no other person running who understands the state of our nation better and has laid out a path for how to rectify our common plights in a complicated world.
On issue after issue–from the pilfering of our collective safety nets by parasitic capitalists to climate change to our individual freedoms and responsibilities to our tense race relations to our economic and military relationships across the globe–no other candidate has a track record as long, deep, and for our good as Sanders has.
Being a democratic socialist, he correctly predicted that the system was too big to fail. He knew that when it failed the impact of its failures would be passed onto us. And low and behold, it happened. The Great Recession resulted from the systematic dismantling of our financial regulations so that the astronomically wealthy could parasitize everyone else with their financial instruments. They emptied our public coffers to feed the insatiable greed of the biggest banks who continue to invest in the biggest polluters and themselves. I don’t know whether to call this system a revolving door or an incestuous orgy. Despite their actions hitting our common wealth like an asteroid, they’ve become richer and I’m sure ever more decadent. And they’ve done it with our bank accounts, our children’s health, our air and water, and our collective well-being. They’ve of course rigged the political system in their favor so that we are chugging towards an oligarchy. We work more while they get richer. We work while they speak.
Sanders has called our attention to it for decades and voted to stop it. No other candidate for president has done that.
Oh Ted Cruz likes to play like he has been the citizen’s champion. But it’s a farce. He plays like he despises the system. But wasn’t it convenient that his wife worked at Goldman Sachs, a bank that loaned him money to fund his senate campaign? Sure was. The man is a snake oil salesman who’s interested in stopping one thing–anything that isn’t Ted Cruz–and promoting one thing–Ted Cruz.
Some might say that Hillary Clinton comes close to Sanders on her depth of commitment. She worked under cover in the south to redress egregious continued segregation. She elevated universal health care during Bill Clinton’s presidency and tried to get it going. Her work on behalf of women everywhere as a symbol and policy champion are nigh on unrivaled. There is no question that she is tenacious.
But she’s not a guide. She’s a centrist technocrat of incredible ability who tacks her way through things while rarely charting a course that’s best for us. She’s a navigator of strong will. She’s not a captain.
She flips and flops, twists and turns, and has opportunistic revelations. I need only point out that she was against gay marriage before it was convenient to claim being a champion of equality. She was for the Keystone XL pipeline before she was against it. Her addresses to black voters and genuine interest in their plights has always felt strange and forced to me, something shy of pandering but never insightful, rarely engaged in listening, and never forceful in addressing the long arm of justice. Generously, we could say she keeps learning. But don’t think that would be true. I want a captain who knows how to listen.
When Sanders was confronted by Black Lives Matters protestors in Seattle, he stepped aside and listened. He could have fought for the mic. But in his heart, he knows that to meet the requirements and responsibilities of justice, a leader must serve and then rise to the occasion and say “Black lives matter” and explain why (as he did in a debate).
When you live in a country where it’s predictably more difficult for urban black mothers to access any kind of good health care, that’s a problem. When you can accurately predict that a black urban child is less literate than her/his white or Asian peers then we have a problem. When it’s clear that being a black male in this country predicts that you are much more likely to die younger than your peers, then something is wrong with the culture. We create that culture. So when Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and other black men have been gunned down by cops and the world boils over, we need to know why. And that means listening and standing with pain and learning from it.
Now I don’t want to make this sound like it’s been easy. Sure, Sanders stood aside and plenty of white progressives got annoyed at Black Lives Matters protestors. But if you look at how and why Sanders’ position evolved, it comes from a fundamental core of responsibility and equality. Sanders has had to learn the issue in something of a crash course. I’d say he has learned and rightly–not opportunistically–incorporated racial justice into his vision for the presidency.
See unlike Donald Trump, Sanders was brave enough to understand the importance of that moment, to reflect on it, and learn. It could have gone very differently. Rather than bloviate like Trump and bully Black Lives Matter activists or dodge the issue and peddle defenses of guns and systematic injustice as the other Republicans have been doing, he has stood for freedom and justice.
No other candidate has done that. No other candidate can do that now without conceding that Sanders has led them there. The Republicans won’t because they are being led by a racist billionaire egomaniac. Their #2 is a narcissistic flamethrower Canadian Texan with no single positive policy position. Neither addresses justice as it should be. So they’ve already lost well over half of the American electorate.
Hillary Clinton keeps adjusting her position. Why? Because she’s already losing. She’s now following Bernie Sanders and trying to tack in the wind of his campaign. On economic justice, climate change, free speech and campaign financing, and civil rights Sanders is already leading. He is invested in our society and our democracy.
To social democracy.