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Democratic Socialism and the Mainstream

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Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism
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Abstract

This chapter deals with Bernie Sanders’s efforts to inscribe democratic socialism in the mainstream of American politics. There was a distinctively reparative dimension to his socialism in that it vowed to repair democracy through policy measures aiming to reverse what he regarded as neoliberal violations of human rights: Medicare for all, free post-secondary education, progressive taxation, a sustainable environment, etc. His platform entailed a paradigm shift that redefined the very nature of the economy to answer the democratically determined needs of the people. While Sanders kept repeating that what he meant by “democratic socialism” had nothing to do with collectivizing the means of production in the United States, the reference to socialism made him an easy target for opponents who could assimilate him with Soviet communist dictatorships, the nationalization of the economy by the federal government, and even a socialist takeover of America.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The expression is borrowed from the title of John Nichols’s, The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism, New York, Verso, 2011.

  2. 2.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, op. cit., p. 20.

  3. 3.

    See supra, p. 198.

  4. 4.

    See supra, p. 54.

  5. 5.

    See supra, p. 93.

  6. 6.

    Joseph Zeballos-Roig, “Bernie Sanders and AOC Support the ‘Nordic Model,’ Which Features Robust Health and Social-Welfare Systems—One That Finland’s Leader Calls ‘the American Dream,’” Markets Insider, February 3, 2020, https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/bernie-sanders-nordic-model-finland-american-dream-sanna-marin-2020-2-1028868627.

  7. 7.

    Sanders, Outsider in the White House, p. 342.

  8. 8.

    Ibid., p. 174.

  9. 9.

    See, for example: Sarah Brady Siff, “From Karl Marx to Karl Rove: ‘Class Warfare’ in American Politics,” Origins, vol. 5, n° 12, September 2012, http://origins.osu.edu/article/karl-marx-karl-rove-class-warfare-american-politics.

  10. 10.

    Ibid.

  11. 11.

    Krugman, “Bernie Sanders Isn’t a Socialist,” New York Times, February 13, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/opinion/bernie-sanders-socialism.html.

  12. 12.

    Ibid.

  13. 13.

    Sanders, Outsider in the White House, p. 222.

  14. 14.

    Id., Eugene Debs, band 11, “The Speech That Sent Debs to Jail.”

  15. 15.

    Pew Research Center, “Rising Share of Americans See Conflict Between Rich and Poor,” op. cit., p. 171.

  16. 16.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 91.

  17. 17.

    Id., Outsider in the White House, p. 177.

  18. 18.

    See supra, p. 33.

  19. 19.

    William. J. Clinton, op. cit., p. 508.

  20. 20.

    Id., in “Bill Clinton in 1992 ad: ‘A Plan to End Welfare as We Know It,’” Washington Post, August 30, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/bill-clinton-in-1992-ad-a-plan-to-end-welfare-as-we-know-it/2016/08/30/9e6350f8-6ee0-11e6-993f-73c693a89820_video.html.

  21. 21.

    Sanders, Outsider in the White House, pp. 22–23.

  22. 22.

    Andrew H. Malcom, “Spock Nominated by People’s Party,” New York Times, July 30, 1972, https://www.nytimes.com/1972/07/30/archives/spock-nominated-by-peoples-party-convention-formally-names.html.

  23. 23.

    Socialist Labor Party of America, “National Platform,” April 11, 1972, http://www.slp.org/pdf/platforms/plat1972.pdf.

  24. 24.

    Malcom, op. cit., p. 227

  25. 25.

    Ibid.

  26. 26.

    Todd S. Purdum, “Democrats of All Ages Agree on Nothing,” The Atlantic, August 11, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/08/how-democrats-view-obama/595837.

  27. 27.

    Pew Research Center, “Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X Outvoted Older Generations in 2018 Midterms,” May 29, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/29/gen-z-millennials-and-gen-x-outvoted-older-generations-in-2018-midterms.

  28. 28.

    Judis, p. 84.

  29. 29.

    Bernard Ryan Jr., Jimmy Carter: U.S. President and Humanitarian, New York, Ferguson, 2006, p. 47.

  30. 30.

    Scarborough, op. cit., p. 6.

  31. 31.

    Pew Research Center, “Young Adults, Student Debt and Economic Well-Being,” May 14, 2014, https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/05/14/young-adults-student-debt-and-economic-well-being.

  32. 32.

    YouGov, “Socialism and Bernie Sanders,” January 27, 2015, https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/467z1ta5ys/tabs_OP_Socialism_20160127.pdf.

  33. 33.

    Steffens, Letter to Marie Howe, op. cit., p. 68.

  34. 34.

    Bellamy, op. cit., p. 46.

  35. 35.

    Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), “Youth Voting in the 2016 Primaries,” July 27, 2016, https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/youth-voting-2016-primaries.

  36. 36.

    U.S. Constitution, op. cit., p. 61.

  37. 37.

    Ibid.

  38. 38.

    Sally L. Kitch, From Utopianism to Realism in American Feminist Thought and Theory, Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press, 2000, p. 72.

  39. 39.

    Bo Erickson, Twitter post, March 4, 2020, https://twitter.com/BoKnowsNews/status/1235323686972018690.

  40. 40.

    Sanders, Twitter post, March 4, 2020, https://twitter.com/berniesanders/status/1235335576288743427.

  41. 41.

    Sanders, “How Does Bernie Pay for His Major Plans,” Not me. Us (2020 campaign website), https://berniesanders.com/issues/how-does-bernie-pay-his-major-plans.

  42. 42.

    Ibid.

  43. 43.

    Ronald Brownstein, “The Cost of Sanders’ Agenda—Possibly $60 Trillion—Would Set a Peacetime U.S. Record,” CNN, January 18, 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/14/politics/bernie-sanders-proposals-cost/index.html.

  44. 44.

    Sanders, “Bernie Sanders on Being the Democratic Front-Runner and Taking on Donald Trump,” 60 Minutes, CBS News, February 24, 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bernie-sanders-democratic-presidential-front-runner-anderson-cooper-60-minutes.

  45. 45.

    Id., “Bernie Sanders: I Thought This Question Might Come Up,” CNN, February 24, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYmlzB7AIWM&feature=emb_logo.

  46. 46.

    Id., “How Does Bernie Pay for His Major Plans,” op. cit., p. 231.

  47. 47.

    Id., “Bernie Sanders: I Thought This Question Might Come Up,” op. cit., p. 231.

  48. 48.

    Ben Ritz, “Even with New Pay-Fors, Bernie’s Agenda Still Has a $25 Trillion Hole,” Forbes, February 25, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/benritz/2020/02/25/even-with-new-pay-fors-bernies-agenda-still-has-a-25-trillion-hole/#599af64466c1.

  49. 49.

    Brownstein, op. cit., p. 231.

  50. 50.

    Gerard Baker, “Why Barack Obama Picked a Political Who’s Who,” op. cit., p. 150.

  51. 51.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 350.

  52. 52.

    Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act, Pub.L. 111-312, December 17, 2010.

  53. 53.

    Warren Buffett, “Stop Cuddling the Super-Rich,” New York Times, August 14, 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html.

  54. 54.

    S. 2059, A bill to reduce the deficit by imposing a minimum effective tax rate for high-income taxpayers, 112th Congress, 2nd Session, February 1, 2012, GovTrack.us, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/s2059.

  55. 55.

    “Republicans Criticize Tax on Millionaires Idea,” Reuters, September 18, 2011, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-debt-republicans/republicans-criticize-tax-on-millionaires-idea-idUSTRE78H19J20110918.

  56. 56.

    Sanders, The Speech, op. cit., p. 167.

  57. 57.

    Id., “The Buffett Rule ,” U.S. Senator for Vermont website, February 1, 2012, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/recent-business/the-buffett-rule.

  58. 58.

    Richard D. Wolff, “The Truth About ‘Class War’ in America,” The Guardian, September 19, 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/sep/19/class-war-america-republicans-rich.

  59. 59.

    Tax Policy Center, “Corporate Top Tax Rate and Bracket, 1909 to 2018,” July 17, 2019, https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/corporate-top-tax-rate-and-bracket.

  60. 60.

    Id., “Historical Highest Marginal Income Tax Rates, 1913 to 2020,” February 4, 2020, https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/historical-highest-marginal-income-tax-rates.

  61. 61.

    A 0.5% tax on stock trades (50 cents on every $100 of stock), a 0.1% fee on bond trades, and a 0.005% fee on derivative trade. Sanders, “College for All and Cancel All Student Debt,” Not me. Us (2020 campaign website), https://berniesanders.com/issues/free-college-cancel-debt.

  62. 62.

    Ibid.

  63. 63.

    Id., “How Does Bernie Pay for His Major Plans,” op. cit., p. 231.

  64. 64.

    Id., “The Sanders Income Inequality Tax Plan,” Not me. Us (2020 campaign website), https://berniesanders.com/issues/income-inequality-tax-plan.

  65. 65.

    Id., “The Sanders Income Inequality Tax Plan,” op. cit., p. 235.

  66. 66.

    Ibid.

  67. 67.

    Sanders, “Tax on Extreme Wealth,” Not me. Us (2020 campaign website), https://berniesanders.com/issues/tax-extreme-wealth.

  68. 68.

    Ibid.

  69. 69.

    Richard Rubin, “Bernie Sanders’s Tax Plan Would Be Biggest Expansion of Taxation Since World War II,” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/sanders-plan-would-hoist-taxes-11583449105.

  70. 70.

    Ibid.

  71. 71.

    Jan-Werner Müller, op. cit., p. 49.

  72. 72.

    Sanders, Where We Go from Here, p. 3.

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Correspondence to Nicolas Gachon .

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Gachon, N. (2021). Democratic Socialism and the Mainstream. In: Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-69661-0_12

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