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Enduring Injustice

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Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism
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This chapter seeks to place injustice in historical perspective. Economic inequality, class warfare, exploitation, corruption, etc. had always underlain socialism. But in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street movement and as Bernie Sanders was about to launch his first presidential campaign, the keyword was accountability for injustice. America had evolved into a capitalist utopia; the original American promise had to be held accountable. History is often linked to responsibility in terms of repairing injustices, but many enduring injustices remain beyond repair. Sanders acknowledged that the intention behind his 2016 presidential campaign was not simply to elect a president of the United States, that the campaign was about transforming America, by which he also meant building a sense of collective memory.

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  1. 1.

    “N.Y. District 14 Race,” November 6, 2018, Our Campaigns,

  2. 2.

    Giovanni Russonello, “Ocasio-Cortez Tells Colbert: ‘We Changed Who Turns Out,’” New York Times, June 29, 2018,

  3. 3.


  4. 4.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 151.

  5. 5.

    Jackie Smith, “Social Movements and Political Moments: Reflections on the Intersections of Global Justice Movements & Occupy Wall Street,” Street Politics in the Age of Austerity: From the Indignados to Occupy, edited by Marcos Ancelovici, Pascale Dufour, and Héloïse Nez, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2016, p. 206.

  6. 6.

    Jeff Spinner-Halev, Enduring Injustice, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 56.

  7. 7.

    Ibid., p. 57.

  8. 8.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 150.

  9. 9.

    Ibid., p. 4.

  10. 10.

    See supra, p. 172.

  11. 11.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 152.

  12. 12.

    Spinner-Halev, p. 56.

  13. 13.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 4.

  14. 14.

    Spinner-Halev, p. 59.

  15. 15.

    See supra, pp. 46, p. 50.

  16. 16.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 209.

  17. 17.

    Sanders, “Sanders Calls For 21st Century Bill of Rights,” op. cit., p. 65.

  18. 18.

    Id., Our Revolution, pp. 209–210.

  19. 19.

    Ibid., p. 364.

  20. 20.

    Sanders, Where We Go from Here, p. 260.

  21. 21.

    Obama, Remarks in Des Moines, Iowa, December 19, 2007, op. cit., p. 147.

  22. 22.

    John Storey, Radical Utopianism and Cultural Studies: On Refusing to be Realistic, New York, Routledge, 2019, p. xi–xii.

  23. 23.

    Spinner-Halev, op. cit., p. 184.

  24. 24.

    Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream,” op. cit., p. 147.

  25. 25.

    Ana Veciana-Suarez, “Who, Exactly, Is Ivanka Trump? We’re Just Scratching Our Heads for Now,” Miami Herald, May 2, 2017,

  26. 26.

    Spinner-Halev, p. 60.

  27. 27.

    Ibid., p. 63.

  28. 28.


  29. 29.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 4.

  30. 30.

    Ibid., p. 192.

  31. 31.

    Ibid., pp. 2–3. See also: Max Ehrenfreund, “Bernie Sanders Is Profoundly Changing How Millennials Think About Politics, Poll Shows,” Washington Post, April 25, 2016,

  32. 32.

    Ibid., pp. 305–306.

  33. 33.

    John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971, p. 60.

  34. 34.

    Spinner-Halev, p. 64.

  35. 35.

    Ibid., op. cit., p. 188.

  36. 36.

    Sanders, Outsider in the White House, p. xvii.

  37. 37.

    Id., Our Revolution, p. 223.

  38. 38.

    Id., “Response to the 2019 State of the Union Address,” U.S. Senator for Vermont website, February 5, 2019,

  39. 39.

    Hughes, op. cit., p. 155.

  40. 40.

    Sanders, Where We Go from Here, p. 81.

  41. 41.

    On September 5, 2018, Bernie Sanders introduced the Stop BEZOS Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill, which aimed to levy a tax on beneficiaries of corporate welfare such as Amazon, Walmart, McDonald’s, and Uber, died in committee (S. 3410, Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act, 115th Congress, September 5, 2018,, Stephen Moore and Dean Stansel of the libertarian Cato Institute define corporate welfare as “special government subsidies or benefits that are targeted to specific industries or corporations.” Consumer and civic advocate Ralph Nader defines it as “the enormous and myriad subsidies, bailouts, giveaways, tax loopholes, debt revocations, loan guarantees, discounted insurance and other benefits conferred by government on business” (quoted in: James T. Bennett, Corporate Welfare: Crony Capitalism that Enriches the Rich, New York, Routledge, 2015, pp., 1, 7). From that angle, the 2008 “Troubled Asset Relief Program” created under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act was regarded by many, Sanders included, as corporate welfare, i.e. as tax money given to banks and to corporations—notably the auto industry—in order to avoid a financial meltdown (see supra, p. 153).

  42. 42.

    Sanders, Outsider in the White House, p. xvi.

  43. 43.

    This is arguably what Bernie Sanders’s political trajectory had been all about from the moment he was elected to the mayorship of Burlington, Vermont in 1981: “We were a coalition of ordinary people, none of whom had any real access to power in the conventional scheme of things, but we had contested an important election—and we had won. If an independent progressive movement could win in America’s most rural state—and until recently, one of America’s most Republican—then it might be possible for progressives to do likewise anywhere in the nation.” Ibid., p. 54.

  44. 44.

    Spinner-Halev, p. 167.

  45. 45.


  46. 46.

    “By liberalism, I mean classical liberalism, the idea that individual rights should be protected, and that government should be limited; the government should be divided so the power of one branch is circumscribed; liberalism is characterized by the rule of law rather than of men and women.” Ibid., p. 12.

  47. 47.

    Ibid., p. 75.

  48. 48.

    Robert C. Lieberman, et al., “The Trump Presidency and American Democracy: A Historical and Comparative Analysis,” Perspectives on Politics, vol. 17, n° 2, June 2019, p. 470.

  49. 49.

    Ibid., p. 471.

  50. 50.

    See supra, p. 6.

  51. 51.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 32.

  52. 52.

    Sanders, Outsider in the White House, p. 274.

  53. 53.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 122.

  54. 54.

    Margot Sanger-Katz, “When Was America Greatest?” New York Times, April 26, 2016,

  55. 55.

    See supra, p. 111.

  56. 56.

    As Sanders recalled in his November 19, 2015, address at Georgetown University, in which he aimed to define his democratic socialism, health care is a civil right: “President Johnson passed Medicare and Medicaid to provide health care to millions of senior citizens and families with children, persons with disabilities and some of the most vulnerable people in this county.” Sanders, “Democratic Socialism in the U.S.A.,” Bernie Speaks, p. 75.

  57. 57.

    Sanders, “Democratic Socialism in the U.S.A.,” Bernie Speaks, p. 76.

  58. 58.

    Seth Ackerman, “The Cosmic Irony of Bernie Sanders’s Rise,” Jacobin, February 17, 2020,

  59. 59.

    Micah Uetricht, “What Bernie Sees in the New Deal: An Interview with Seth Ackerman,” Jacobin, September 7, 2019,

  60. 60.

    See supra, p. 78.

  61. 61.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 126.

  62. 62.

    Id., Where We Go from here, p. 260.

  63. 63.

    Ackerman, op. cit., p. 194.

  64. 64.

    See supra, p. 193.

  65. 65.

    Pete Buttigieg was to quit the presidential race four days later in a move that boosted the candidacy of Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s former vice president. President Trump soon reacted to exert pressure on the Democratic camp by reminding them of how Bernie Sanders had lost the 2016 Democratic primary: “Pete Buttigieg is OUT. All of his SuperTuesday votes will go to Sleepy Joe Biden. Great timing. This is the REAL beginning of the Dems taking Bernie out of play—NO NOMINATION, AGAIN!” Donald J. Trump Twitter post, March 2, 2020,

  66. 66.

    “Read the full transcript of the South Carolina Democratic Debate,” CBS News, February 25, 2020,

  67. 67.


  68. 68.


  69. 69.


  70. 70.


  71. 71.

    Patrick Healy, “Bernie Sanders, Confronting Concerns, Makes Case for Electability.” New York Times (November 19, 2015),

  72. 72.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 166.

  73. 73.

    See supra, p. 195.

  74. 74.

    Sanders, Outsider in the White House, p. 7.

  75. 75.

    Id., Our Revolution, p. 13.

  76. 76.

    Id., Outsider in the White House, p. 55.

  77. 77.

    Id., Our Revolution, p. 168.

  78. 78.

    Ibid., p. 27.

  79. 79.

    Id., Outsider in the White House, p. 47.

  80. 80.

    Id., Outsider in the House, p. 80.

  81. 81.

    Id., Outsider in the White House, p. 116.

  82. 82.

    Id., Outsider in the House, p. 116.

  83. 83.

    Garry, op. cit., p. 140.


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Correspondence to Nicolas Gachon .

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Gachon, N. (2021). Enduring Injustice. In: Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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