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Bernie Sanders’s Liberal Matrix

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Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism
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Abstract

This chapter explores the politically liberal influences at work in Bernie Sanders’s distinctive brand of socialism. While, to many people, his ideological matrix is and remains socialism, this chapter shows how Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal became a core component of Sanders’s political thinking and a reference that helped bring democratic socialism into the lexicon of mainstream American politics. This chapter also studies the legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and of Lyndon B. Johnson whose Great Society considerably influenced Bernie Sanders, notably in the field of health care and in the context of Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” Finally, the chapter reckons with the context, the prism, and the lexicon of the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970 s that also pervade Bernie Sanders’s political rhetoric.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Socialist Labor Party of America, “National Platform,” May 14, 1928,

    http://www.slp.org/pdf/platforms/plat1928.pdf.

  2. 2.

    Altman, p. 196.

  3. 3.

    Norman Thomas, The New Deal: A Socialist Analysis, Chicago, IL., Socialist Party of America, Committee on Education and Research, 1934, p. 3, https://digital.library.pitt.edu/islandora/object/pitt%3A31735061544668.

  4. 4.

    Ibid., p. 19.

  5. 5.

    Sanders, “Democratic Socialism in the U.S.A.,” November 19, 2015, Bernie Speaks, pp. 81–82.

  6. 6.

    Larry Sanders, quoted in Nico Hines, “Bernie Sanders’s Brother: He Backs ‘Class Warfare,’ Bill Clinton Was Worse Than Bush,” The Daily Beast, February 19, 2016, https://www.thedailybeast.com/bernie-sanderss-brother-he-backs-class-warfare-bill-clinton-was-worse-than-bush.

  7. 7.

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

  8. 8.

    Id., Eugene V. Debs, band 8, “Internalizing Socialist Thought,” op. cit., p. 3.

  9. 9.

    Id., Outsider in the House, p. 236; Outsider in the White House, p. 293.

  10. 10.

    Steffens, Letter to Marie Howe, op. cit., p. 52

  11. 11.

    Sanders, “Democratic Socialism in the U.S.A.,” Bernie Speaks, p. 75.

  12. 12.

    Ibid., p. 81.

  13. 13.

    Thomas, op. cit., p. 111.

  14. 14.

    Ibid.

  15. 15.

    National Labor Relations Act, Pub.L. 74–198, July 6, 1935.

  16. 16.

    Social Security Act, Pub.L. 74–271, August 14, 1935.

  17. 17.

    Patrick J. Maney, The Roosevelt Presence: The Life and Legacy of FDR, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1998, p. 103.

  18. 18.

    “U.S. President National Vote,” November 8, 1932, Our Campaigns, https://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=1949.

  19. 19.

    “U.S. President National Vote,” November 3, 1936, ibid., https://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=1948.

  20. 20.

    Sanders, “Remembering Dr. King,” Where We Go from Here, pp. 172–177.

  21. 21.

    Id., “Democratic Socialism in the U.S.A.,” Bernie Speaks, p. 81.

  22. 22.

    Ibid., p. 82. Martin Luther King’s argument described cynically inverted ideological prisms. The implicit reference was to Herbert Hoover October 22, 1928 address in which he expressed his belief that the American system was based on “rugged individualism” and “self-reliance,” phrases that were associated with the policies of the Republican Party and were meant to laud economically successful people and to discredit socialism: “We were challenged with a choice between the American system of rugged individualism and a European philosophy of diametrically opposed doctrines—doctrines of paternalism and state socialism.” See Herbert Hoover, “Rugged Individualism,” Campaign Speech, October 22, 1928, Digital History, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook_print.cfm?smtid=3&psid=1334.

  23. 23.

    Harry Belafonte, Michael Shnayerson, My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance, New York, Vintage, 2012, p. 328.

  24. 24.

    Sanders, “Remembering Dr. King,” Where We Go from Here, p. 175.

  25. 25.

    Ibid.

  26. 26.

    Ibid., p. 174.

  27. 27.

    Medina, Lerer, op. cit., p. 8.

  28. 28.

    Sanders, “Remembering Dr. King,” Where We Go from Here, p. 174.

  29. 29.

    Ibid., p. 175.

  30. 30.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 20.

  31. 31.

    Library of Congress, op. cit., p. 103.

  32. 32.

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

  33. 33.

    Id., Where We Go from Here, p. 174.

  34. 34.

    Ibid., p. 170.

  35. 35.

    Id., Our Revolution, p. 239.

  36. 36.

    Lyndon B. Johnson, “Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union,” January 8, 1964, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242292.

  37. 37.

    Sanders, “War on Poverty,” Bernie Sanders U.S. Senator for Vermont website, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/buzz/war-on-poverty.

  38. 38.

    A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and families.

  39. 39.

    Older Americans Act, Pub.L. 89–73, July 14, 1965. The law provided comprehensive services for older people.

  40. 40.

    Hillary Clinton, What Happened, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2017, p. 239.

  41. 41.

    Josh Martin, “United States: President Obama Discusses Basic Income Without Clearly Endorsing or Opposing It,” Basic Income Earth Network, June 24, 2016, https://basicincome.org/news/2016/06/united-states-president-obama-discusses-basic-income-without-either-endorsing-or-opposing-it.

  42. 42.

    Obama, Speech At The 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, July 17, 2018, National Public Radio, https://www.npr.org/2018/07/17/629862434/transcript-obamas-speech-at-the-2018-nelson-mandela-annual-lecture?t=1592563071145.

  43. 43.

    Joshua Zeitz, Building the Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson’s White House, New York, Viking, 2018, p. 312.

  44. 44.

    Ibid.

  45. 45.

    Sanders, “Democratic Socialism in the U.S.A.,” Bernie Speaks, p. 75.

  46. 46.

    See Robert P. Sutton, Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Religious Communities, 17322000, Westport, CT, Praeger, 2003.

  47. 47.

    Susan Green, “Vermont Remains a Hippie Epicenter,” Burlington Free Press, July 24, 2015, https://eu.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/vermont/2015/07/24/vermont-remains-hippie-epicenter/30564907.

  48. 48.

    Ibid.

  49. 49.

    Ibid.

  50. 50.

    Ibid.

  51. 51.

    Sanders, Eugene V. Debs, op. cit., p. 3.

  52. 52.

    Id., Our Revolution, pp. 21–22.

  53. 53.

    Jacobson, op. cit., p. 32.

  54. 54.

    Sanders, “Reflections on a Dying Society,” Vermont Freeman, August 1–3, 1969, p. 8. Available via the Vermont State Library, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2157596-sanders-reflection.html.

  55. 55.

    Id., “The Revolution Is Life Versus Death,” Vermont Freeman, November 14–17, 1969, p. 9. Available via the Vermont State Library, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2157415-sanders-revolution.html.

  56. 56.

    Ibid., p. 9.

  57. 57.

    Jacobson, op. cit., p. 32.

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Correspondence to Nicolas Gachon .

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Gachon, N. (2021). Bernie Sanders’s Liberal Matrix. In: Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-69661-0_6

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