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Abstract

This chapter deals with the Great Recession and the Obama administration as backdrops to Bernie Sanders’s presidential runs in 2016 and 2020. Barack Obama’s election bore the promise to bridge the political polarization which had been ripping the country apart for two decades, and Obama had conjured up Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous phrase “the fierce urgency of now” to stress the importance of his own candidacy in a series of speeches starting in 2007. Such references fell on the receptive ears of Bernie Sanders who placed his own democratic socialism under the umbrella of Martin Luther King Jr.’s radical vision of a country that had allegedly implemented “socialism for the rich” and “rugged individualism for the poor.” However, from Bernie Sanders’s perspective, Obama’s vision was not one that explicitly expanded the scope and limits of government intervention to correct social evils.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Id., Remarks in St. Paul, Minnesota Claiming the Democratic Presidential Nomination, June 3, 2008, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/277836.

  2. 2.

    Michelle Obama, “Speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention,” PBS News, July 25, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHnJ2sTIVUI.

  3. 3.

    See, for example, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America, New York, Threshold Editions, 2010.

  4. 4.

    The image is borrowed from William Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, iii., 16–23.

  5. 5.

    Steffens, Letter to Marie Howe , op. cit., p. 198.

  6. 6.

    Obama, “Nobel Prize Lecture, Oslo,” The Nobel Prize, December 10, 2009, https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2009/obama/26183-nobel-lecture-2009.

  7. 7.

    Id., “Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention,” The American Presidency Project, July 27, 2004, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/277378.

  8. 8.

    “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.” Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream,” Address delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute (Stanford University), https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom.

  9. 9.

    Obama, “Remarks in Des Moines, Iowa,” The American Presidency Project, December 19, 2007, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/277494.

  10. 10.

    See supra, p. 116. The title of Bernie Sanders’s Where We Go from Here was also inspired by the title of a book by Martin Luther King Jr. See: Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? New York, Beacon Press, 1968.

  11. 11.

    Obama, Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, op. cit., p. 147.

  12. 12.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates, “My President Was Black: A history of the first African American White House—And of What Came Next,” The Atlantic, January/February 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/01/my-president-was-black/508793.

  13. 13.

    Obama, The President’s Weekly Address, April 25, 2009, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Barack Obama, 2009, Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office, 2010, p. 554.

  14. 14.

    Eliot A. Rosen, Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the Economics of Recovery, Charlottesville, University of Virginia Press, 2005, p. 25.

  15. 15.

    Ibid., pp. 67–68.

  16. 16.

    Ibid., p. 42.

  17. 17.

    Obama, The President’s Weekly Address, April 25, 2009, op. cit., p. 150.

  18. 18.

    Gerard Baker, “Why Barack Obama Picked a Political Who’s Who,” The Times, December 5, 2008, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/why-barack-obama-picked-a-political-whos-who-mjc76tgzm6t.

  19. 19.

    Larry Summers was also one of the economic advisers to Joe Biden ’s 2020 campaign, which caused several progressive groups to ask Joe Biden on Wednesday to remove former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers from his campaign and to promise not to include him in any future Biden administration. See: Jennifer Epstein, “Biden Feels Heat from Left to Drop Larry Summers as an Adviser,” Fortune, May 6, 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/05/06/joe-biden-larry-summers-advisor-activists-working-families-party-greenpeace-moveon.

  20. 20.

    Glass-Steagall Act , Pub.L. 72-44, February 27, 1932.

  21. 21.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 51.

  22. 22.

    Obama, “Remarks in Chicago Announcing Members of the Economic Team,” The American Presidency Project, November 24, 2008, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/216777.

  23. 23.

    Ibid.

  24. 24.

    Pew Research Center, “Unemployment vs. Obama Disapproval,” January 26, 2010, https://www.pewresearch.org/2010/01/26/its-all-about-jobs-except-when-its-not.

  25. 25.

    “Obama Expected to Offer Stimulus Package,” Reuters, November 5, 2008, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-stimulus-1/factbox-obama-expected-to-offer-stimulus-package-idUSTRE4A43FH20081105.

  26. 26.

    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Pub.L. 111-5, February 17, 2009.

  27. 27.

    The bill did not receive a single Republican vote in the House of Representatives.

  28. 28.

    David M. Herszenhorn, “Recovery Bill Gets Final Approval,” New York Times, February 13, 2009, https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/2009/02/14/us/politics/14web-stim.html.

  29. 29.

    Obama, The President’s Weekly Address, April 25, 2009, p. 103.

  30. 30.

    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub.L. 111–148, March 23, 2010.

  31. 31.

    “Measuring the Effects of ARRA,” Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, July 15, 2010, https://www.crfb.org/blogs/measuring-effects-arra.

  32. 32.

    CNN Opinion Research Poll, January 25, 2010, http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/25/rel1g.pdf.

  33. 33.

    Edmund L. Andrews, Eric Dash, “U.S. Expands Plan to Buy Banks’ Troubled Assets,” New York Times, March 23, 2009, https://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/24/business/economy/24bailout.html.

  34. 34.

    Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, Pub.L. 110–343, October 3, 2008.

  35. 35.

    Sanders, “Wall Street Bailout,” U.S. Senator for Vermont website, October 1, 2008, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2008/10/01/wall-street-bailout.

  36. 36.

    Timothy F. Geithner, Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises, New York, Crown Publishing Group, 2014, p. 201.

  37. 37.

    Ibid., p. 338.

  38. 38.

    Paul Krugman , “Financial Policy Despair,” New York Times, March 22, 2009, https://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/opinion/23krugman.html.

  39. 39.

    Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub.L. 111–203, July 21, 2010.

  40. 40.

    Glass Steagall Act, op. cit., p. 151.

  41. 41.

    Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Pub.L. 106-102, November 12, 1999.

  42. 42.

    Geithner, p. 424.

  43. 43.

    Ibid.

  44. 44.

    Sanders, Our Revolution, p. 78.

  45. 45.

    Obama, Remarks following endorsement by John Edwards, in “Edwards Endorses Obama,” May 14, 2008, Real Clear Politics, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/05/edwards_endorses_obama.html.

  46. 46.

    Id., Remarks by the President on Economic Mobility, December 4, 2013, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/12/04/remarks-president-economic-mobility.

  47. 47.

    Id.

  48. 48.

    Id., Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, op. cit., p. 147.

  49. 49.

    Id., Remarks by the President in Conversation on Poverty at Georgetown University, May 12, 2015, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/realitycheck/the-press-office/2015/05/12/remarks-president-conversation-poverty-georgetown-university.

  50. 50.

    Obama, Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, op. cit., p. 147.

  51. 51.

    Coates, op. cit., p. 102.

  52. 52.

    Johnson, op. cit., p. 118.

  53. 53.

    Obama, Remarks by the President at LBJ Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit, April 10, 2014, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/10/remarks-president-lbj-presidential-library-civil-rights-summit.

  54. 54.

    Cornel West, quoted in Chris Hedges,” “The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic,” Truthdig, May 16, 2011, https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-obama-deception-why-cornel-west-went-ballistic.

  55. 55.

    Ibid.

  56. 56.

    Ibid.

  57. 57.

    58% of Black Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters supported Hillary Clinton as of March 2016 while only 34% supported Bernie Sanders. See: “Perceptions of the Presidential Candidates, and Primary Preferences,” Pew Research Center, March 31, 2016, https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2016/03/31/4-perceptions-of-the-presidential-candidates-and-primary-preferences.

  58. 58.

    Adam Harris, “Bernie Sanders Reached Out to Black Voters. Why Didn’t It Work?” The Atlantic, March 10, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/03/bernie-sanders-black-voters/607789.

  59. 59.

    Baker, op. cit., p. 50.

  60. 60.

    In 1903, Eugene Debs famously wrote “We have nothing special to offer the Negro, and we cannot make separate appeals to all the races. Debs, “The Negro in the Class Struggle.” International Socialist Review, vol. IV, n° 5, November 1903, https://www.marxists.org/archive/debs/works/1903/negro.htm.

  61. 61.

    Rorty, p. 79.

  62. 62.

    West, “Pity the Sad Legacy of Barack Obama,” The Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/ commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency.

  63. 63.

    Ibid.

  64. 64.

    Ibid.

  65. 65.

    Ibid.

  66. 66.

    Sanders, “Wall Street Bailout,” op. cit., p. 153.

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Correspondence to Nicolas Gachon .

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Gachon, N. (2021). Hope. In: Bernie Sanders’s Democratic Socialism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-69661-0_8

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