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A New American Revolution Led by a Democratic Socialist?
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2016-03-16 10:18:49
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Predictably, and as duly announced in my previous reports on Senator Sanders vis a vis the 2016 presidential campaign, while the pundits continue focusing on the vulgarities and enormities of Donald Trump’s political reality show, Bernie Sanders continues to defy their misguided expectations. With his upset win in Michigan on Tuesday the 8th of March, he shattered their conventional predominant narrative, namely, that Hillary Clinton is the logical inevitable choice for the Democratic nomination. This was an assumption dictated by the fact that not a single poll over the last month had her lead by less than 5% in Michigan; many in fact had her lead at 20% or higher and had Sanders lose by 37%. Instead, what we got was one of the greatest upset in modern political history; but the pundits continue to myopically talk about Trump’s obscenities and inanities.

When Sanders announced his campaign for president 10 months ago, he was readily dismissed by many in the media as a fringe candidate whose politics were too radical to connect with Democratic voters. The question now arises: are polls in other Midwestern states holding open primaries on Tuesday the 15th (such as Illinois and Ohio), also way off? They also seem to give Clinton a substantial lead (in the 30s and 20s) over Sanders; but may this be deceptive, despite the fact that she leads Sanders by more than 200 pledged delegates? In their conventional wisdom, are they missing something fundamental about the mood of the electorate? And if so, what is it exactly?


One thing can no longer be ignored: Sanders, at this point, has proven that his identification as a democratic socialist will not prevent him from winning in big diverse states with large delegate prizes; he will at the very least be more competitive there, if not outright win. They are states such as California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. On Tuesday night, the over 592,000 Michigan Democrats who voted for Sanders proved that his policies are not too extreme; that is a false assumption—they’re just what large swaths of voters need and want. Running on a message of economic justice and critical of corporate power, free trade deals and a broken criminal justice system, Sanders was able to win over voters in a state that saw massive job losses in the wake of the Great Recession and thus confound the political experts. 


As a result of the financial collapse, in 2009 unemployment in Michigan skyrocketed to 14.9%. Michigan has also seen its infrastructure fall into disrepair—as evidenced by the tragic water poisoning in Flint. And trade deals like NAFTA have led to vast outsourcing of jobs, largely in manufacturing. Sanders’ campaign confronted these issues facing working people in Michigan, connecting voters’ anxieties to a system that benefits Wall Street and corporations at the expense of the middle class. He has made rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure—including outdated and compromised water systems—central to his policy agenda. His plan to invest $1 trillion over 5 years would be paid for by cracking down on corporations ducking taxes by moving their profits offshore.   

Far from being judged too radical by voters, these positions helped Sanders carry the Great Lakes state. If over half a million Democrats in Michigan—a state not exactly known for its radicalism—are willing to vote for a democratic socialist, it seems clear that such a term, with the inevitable specter of Communism, which will inevitably be used and exploited, will not be a major hindrance for Sanders going forward.  Sanders, after all, won 71% of independents and the majority of voters making under $50,000 a year. And he even made inroads among African-American voters, winning 28 percent of their support—his highest margin yet in a state with a large African-American community. No longer can Clinton take that vote for granted. If Michigan is any indication, the question that must be persistently be asked is this: is America ready for a new revolution led by a democratic socialist? 


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Emanuel Paparella2016-03-16 11:16:09
After last night results I suppose the answer to that question may turn up to be: not yet. The silver lining is that, with the road paved by the Sanders' campaign, next time around it may be; at the very least Sanders' message has moved establishment candidates such as Hillary Clinton to consider the desirability, indeed necessity, of a social-democratic point of view, if Western democracy, and indeed Western civilization is to survive.

Emanuel Paparella2016-03-16 11:57:59
P.S. to the above comment:

Another silver lining is that the last primary voting reveals that Sanders gets the some 80% of young people's votes. So, it may take another generation but eventually things will change in American capitalism and democracy. What did Churchill say? Americans come around to doing the right thing after they have tried all the wrong ways.

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