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Forum Post: "Why Bernie Sanders Matters" by Seth Ackerman

Posted 2 weeks ago on Sept. 28, 2019, 1:15 a.m. EST by ImNotMe (1488)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

New York magazine’s Eric Levitz — probably the sharpest liberal political commentator writing today — has a few bones to pick with Jacobin writers on the subject of Bernie Sanders versus Elizabeth Warren.

The case for Warren as a force for progressivism, Levitz says, is stronger than we’ve allowed. Whatever differences exist between the two candidates will probably end up moot if their policies ever reach the floor of Congress anyway. Moreover, Levitz questions our conviction that Bernie Sanders has the potential to transform American politics in any real way — at least any more than Warren does. Given the country’s legislative stasis and its conservatizing political institutions, he argues, such optimism about any politician is ill-advised.

None of these points is completely wrong, and yet there’s something perverse about this two-and-a-half-cheers-for-Warren case. Somehow, the very fact that Sanders’s post-2016 ascent triggered a historically unprecedented leftward lurch in Democratic Party discourse — a development for which Elizabeth Warren’s rise is Exhibit A — is used to argue that Bernie Sanders has no particular monopoly on the ability to push American politics leftward.

According to Levitz, Sanders has already “persuaded many 2020 Democratic hopefuls to stop worrying and learn to love social democracy” — therefore, he concludes, Sanders must now be dispensable. It’s like saying that since there’s never been a break-in at Fort Knox, there must be no need for all those armed guards.

Yet even as Levitz sees Sanders’s mission as all but accomplished, he also wants to argue that the Vermont senator has accomplished very little. “Sanders has had a national platform for three years now,” Levitz writes. “He has built up an independent organization and traveled the country proselytizing for class struggle. And none of it has been sufficient for his acolytes to dominate Democratic primaries, or to win him a broader base of support for his 2020 run than he had in 2016, or even to keep his approval rating from slipping underwater.”

It’s true that Sanders has not decisively conquered the American political system for socialism in the space of three years. Socialism is seldom built in a day. Between its first electoral outing and its second, the British Labour Party went from 1.8 percent of the vote in 1900 to 5.7 percent in 1906; the German Social Democratic Party from 3.2 percent in 1871 to 6.8 percent in 1874; the French Workers’ Party (whose first election manifesto was co-written by Karl Marx) from 0.4 percent in 1881 to . . . 0.4 percent in 1885. All three of these parties, in some form, went on to transform their countries’ political landscapes — just not in three years.

However, a startling indication of how much Sanders has already changed US politics was recently reported by Martin Wattenberg, a political scientist at the University of California Irvine. Every four years since 1956, the American National Election Studies (ANES) has asked voters to describe, in their own words, what they like or dislike about the two parties. It was on the basis of these interviews that the political scientist Philip Converse reached his famous verdict in 1964 that ordinary Americans are, broadly speaking, “innocent of ideology” — that they don’t think in ideological terms.

Political scientists have generally accepted that judgment ever since, along with a corollary notion about American public opinion, advanced in 1967 by the politics scholars Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril: that Americans tend, on the whole, to be “operationally liberal” (favoring specific liberal policies like Social Security and Medicare) but “philosophically conservative” (rejecting broad expressions of left-wing ideas).

In a widely noted 2016 book, the political scientists Matthew Grossmann and David A. Hopkins elaborated on this idea, showing that American public opinion is “asymmetric,” with Republican voters embracing broad conservative ideology while rank-and-file Democrats avoid abstract ideas —thinking mainly in terms of which particular social groups will be helped or harmed by each party’s policies.

In the long run, Democrats “suffer from not forthrightly making ideological arguments,” Grossmann argues; “partially as a result, [the] public maintains conservative predispositions.”

But Wattenberg’s detailed analysis of the ANES voter interview transcripts has led him to conclude that in 2016 something fundamental changed in American public opinion:

  • Past research has shown that Republicans are substantially more likely to be ideologues whereas Democrats are much more inclined to conceptualize politics in terms of group benefits. This pattern was quite evident in the 2008 and 2012 American National Election Study (ANES) responses that I personally coded.

  • However, two developments occurred in 2016 that dramatically reshaped the partisan nature of belief systems. First, the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party evidenced a great deal of ideological thinking, thereby pushing Democrats to a record percentage at the top level of ideological conceptualization.

“Far more than most Democratic presidential contenders,” Wattenberg continued, “Sanders openly discussed and emphasized ideological concepts, proudly promoting progressivism and democratic socialism.” “What we saw in 2016,” the scholar explained in a recent interview, “was sort of a legitimation of talking in those terms. Bernie Sanders said, ‘Progressivism, democratic socialism, these are good things.’ For the first time, I’m really seeing that in the interviews.”

For a single candidate, in a single campaign, to leave such an imprint on mass opinion is remarkable; Obama didn’t manage that, and by all indications neither would Warren. Maybe Levitz is right when he posits that a President Warren would be able to “get senators like Jon Tester and Kyrsten Sinema to swallow marginally more progressive legislation in 2021” than a President Sanders. Maybe. But to embrace that as our political horizon would be a counsel of despair.

The rationale for Sanders’s brand of politics has always been that shifting the basic parameters of American politics — however difficult that may be — is a better aim than accepting those parameters and trying to maneuver within them. Both the bitter disappointments and the fragile hopes of the last decade of politics have tended to prove that strategy right. Lowering our sights now would be a world-historical mistake.

verbum satis sapienti ...

[Article copied verbatim under "Fair Use" from: https://jacobinmag.com/2019/09/bernie-sanders-elizabeth-warren-eric-levitz-2020-presidential-campaign-democratic-nomination & use ^ this ^ link to access the 7 underlined embedded information links.]



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[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 2 weeks ago

Your link made me so fkn angry that in an attempt at self-preserving restraint, I suggest that U direct it at resident OWS Forum, GOPlite Establishment Dem &/or DNC stooge factsrfun, because his factRfukt re. Bernie Sanders & the RW Corp. Dem pathology, NOT mine imo, lol! Anyway, try here too:

From yr link: "Some Democratic primary voters say they don't trust the Democratic National Committee to run a fair primary process'' - yes, right & of course. A better observation from your link, which is titled: "25% of Bernie Sanders' supporters don't trust the Democratic National Committee to run a fair 2020 primary'' may be; "Why Only 25%?" Do 75% of Dems think the Dem PotUS Nomination process is free & fair?!!! That DNC is not Corporate Con'troll'ed?!! That this is not/won't be .. happening again?!

ad iudicium?

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22974) 2 weeks ago

Bernie Sanders on democratic socialism. His views make other Democrats look weak when they pretend they are working for the benefit of the people. And, no matter what happens in the primary, Sanders' will have victory in having pushed the platform of all major candidates to the left.

From truthout link above:

"I’ll tell you what I believe in terms of democratic socialism. I agree with what goes on in Canada and in Scandinavia: guaranteeing healthcare to all people as a human right. I believe that the United States should not be the only major country on Earth not to provide paid family and medical leave. I believe that every worker in this country deserves a living wage and that we expand the trade union movement.

I happen to believe also that what, to me, democratic socialism means is we deal with an issue we do not discuss enough, Jorge, not in the media and not in Congress. You’ve got three people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of this country. You’ve got a handful of billionaires controlling what goes on in Wall Street, the insurance companies and in the media. Maybe, just maybe, what we should be doing is creating an economy that works for all of us, not 1%. That’s my understanding of democratic socialism." - Bernie Sanders

And, good point about why don't 100% of Dems understand that it is corporate controlled and that primaries are unfair. I do think, however, that 25% is better than none and is a good sign that people are waking up. Not to mention that 42% of American voters identify as "Independent." and therefore can be assumed to question the primary process in the first place.

42% of voters are Independent, 30% of voters are Democrats, 26% of voters are Republicans

From: https://news.gallup.com/poll/245801/americans-continue-embrace-political-independence.aspx

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 2 weeks ago

Maybe "an economy that works for all of us" - occurs when citizens are educated in compassionate reasoning & motivated by reasoned compassion & when all parasitisms of Private Pecuniary Profit as ONLY accounted for by The Tyranny of Double Entry Book-Keeping - that does NOT account for The Externalities of Finance & Industrial Capitalism NOR of Fiat Money; are exposed and then .. corrected!

On a somewhat significantly lighter (yet possibly profoundly serious) note ... re. the "42% of voters", NB:

Finally & on a much more sobering note & per the OP, reflect upon this thread:

dum spiro, spero; verum ex absurdo et caveat!

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 2 weeks ago

So, consider - ''Is the United States on the brink of a revolution?'' .. by Serbulent Turan:

spero ...

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 1 week ago

''The IRS Admits It Doesn’t Audit the Rich Because It’s Too Hard - only poor people have to pay back unpaid taxes'' - by Luke Darby:

''The Internal Revenue Service is in a bind. The agency's job is to collect the taxes that fund everything else in the government, from Social Security to the Post Office to Medicaid to the military's endless conflicts across the globe. But the IRS is struggling: According to Vox, Americans owe a cumulative $131 billion in unpaid taxes, enough to completely fund the Department of Education for two years. The bulk of that money is owed by the wealthiest people in the country, yet the IRS isn't attempting to collect it from them. Instead, as IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig confirmed in a letter to Congress recently, the agency literally can't afford to audit the rich, so it's pursuing the poor instead.''

fiat justitia ruat caelum ...

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22974) 5 days ago

The IRS doesn't audit the rich, let's face it, because the government doesn't want to!

The Republicans have de-funded the IRS so now it claims it cannot afford to audit the rich because it takes so much more effort. Hog wash. They de-funded the IRS purposefully.

It's no different than requiring the Post Office to fund pensions 75 years into the future and then claim the Post Office is bankrupt.

These are pointed decisions made by an immoral government.

From the Darby article: "ProPublica.... found that a person is more likely to get audited if they make $20,000 a year than if they make $400,000."

This is outrageous and un-American on so many levels.

Bernie Sanders seeks to turn around this vast inequality that we find ourselves in. This matter is one of the biggest.

Tax the Rich.

Here is Bernie's Income Inequality Tax Plan




"Sanders’ plan includes enforcement measures that he said would block evasion of his proposed tax. In addition to the wealth registry, the IRS would be required to audit all billionaires and 30 percent of wealth tax returns for others paying the highest tax rates."

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 4 days ago

Is ''Bernie's finally on a winning track'' ?

Thanx for your reply - I recommend it to all.

I'll try a longer reply later but pls watch^vid.

fiat lux ...

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22974) 3 days ago

Bernie has a plan to win. Great video with great summation of what needs to be done to overcome wealth inequality in America.


Basically, workers have to become owners. And, Bernie has a bold new plan for corporate accountability and democracy to make this happen.

His proposal would actually change the nature of our economy by giving real wealth and real power to workers. Workers would own 20% of the share of their companies and workers would hold 45% of corporate board seats. This would be a profound transformation and as Krystal Ball points out in the video, Thomas Piketty has shown that the only real way to overcome inequality is by doing something this dramatic.

None of the other top candidates have any proposals nearly as bold and as transformative as this would be. Bernie Sanders is seeking to make real and permanent change to our society to benefit all people, not just the wealthy and corporations.

His plan is the only one being put to voters that will truly provide an alternative to unfettered capitalism.

In his own words "I have one life to live, what role do I want to play?" We should all be asking this question. Go Bernie.

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 3 days ago

''Bernie Sanders is seeking to make real and permanent change to our society to benefit all people, not just the wealthy and corporations. His plan is the only one being put to voters that will truly provide an alternative to unfettered capitalism.'' As it is so worth repeating & in compliment, please also consider...

From which: ''I think it is very hard, very hard for Donald Trump or anybody else, to make the case to the American people that a company like Amazon — owned by the wealthiest person in America, made $10 billion in profit last year — didn’t pay a nickel in federal income tax. Somebody wants to make that case, you go ahead. I just don't think anybody in America will accept it. It has everything to do, simply, with the power of the billionaire class, the power of the corporate elite and a very corrupt political system.'' Amen!

fiat justitia ...

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22974) 2 days ago

Good luck in Dem Debate, Senator Sanders.

We're pulling for you.

From the Weissert article:

“We’re getting into the nitty gritty and the details of what has to be done with some specificity. The broad concept of how you create a democratic society in which working people have more control over their lives is a theme that I have obviously been working on and believed throughout my entire career. But this provides some of the very specific details of how we can go forward, and it will be a major transformation of the economy in the sense of empowering working people to have control over their own lives, over their own jobs and not just be cogs in a machine, which is sadly enough too often the case.”

It is apparent that Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with an actual detailed platform of policies and ideas to free us from the "unfettered capitalism" that has all of the 99% in chains!

So, get it? While the "capitalism" is "unfettered," we are in the f-ing chains! Wake up people!

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 2 days ago

"While "capitalism" is "unfettered" - we are in the f-ing chains! Wake up people'' before it's too late!

"This is a huge moment and Sanders cannot, and should not - be ignored any longer by those who continue to erase him, his candidacy - and his supporters." Beware RW "Centrist" DNC substitutes!

Consider, this https://berniesanders.com/issues/ is why Bernie is better than "Centrist" butt kissers!

e pluribus, unum!

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22974) 2 days ago

Ilhan Omar endorses Bernie Sanders. Watch beautiful endorsement.


"I am one of the people that was inspired by the movement the Senator has built."

AOC's endorsement to follow.

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 17 hours ago

''Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows: Bernie Sanders is the most progressive choice.'' - by Arwa Mahdawi:

''That AOC, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are endorsing Sanders rather than Warren makes perfect sense.'' Now all USA's 99% need is for the Corp ass-kissing DNC & Dem Libs, to get out of the way!

dum spiro, spero ...

[-] 0 points by grapes (5232) 7 hours ago

I'm inspired so much by the great work Donald John Trump is doing for our c0untry as well as his far-out 2040 vision for us all to live in the Hamptons all year round that Trump 2040 seems to be far more appropriate than Trump 2020. Trump 2040!

In order to enhance our socioeconomic status as the nouveaux-riche, we'll drive to our Man-heeft-ding Park-Avenue job in this Russian sex-wheel-drive ruggedized Ural truck made for surviving Siberian muddy weather conditions. Its impressiveness will surely surpass those stupid American Humvees so many of which got humped in Iraq from below by the IEDs made by the IRGC. Of course, we'll make sure that we first americanize the Russian truck with several Star-Spangled Banners and also test its horn up to the high-decibel level of that of an American humvee being humped and struggling to get anywhere aside from the trash heap. It's extremely difficult for any blimpy person to get a "second cumming" once they're beyond their teen years.

Bernie may cave in too easily on the human rights front as I also believe Trump is far too soft on it, too. I doubt very much that the Soviet Union would have collapsed had the U.S. not largely stood firm on the most important human right of freedom. We must fight wars for human rights even if they seem endless. We don't retreat from our war stations until we have worthy successors, no matter whether we have a war of a century, a millennium, or a eon.

We fought the British (¿Jewish-faced?) Bankers indirectly at the founding of our republic, more than two centuries ago. We are still fighting our bankers now so I see nothing wrong with fighting the same thing again for a much longer time further.

Bernie fell too easily under the totalitarian infowar spell cast by Red Fuckgina. On this issue, I trust Donald John Trump far more because he has been saying this for many decades already (he believes it.) Joe Biden will obviously be totally useless on this issue, having been co-opted many years ago and been a framer of the status quo with Red Fuckgina. I'm not a trust-fund baby but I am a trust-freedom baby.

I suspect that maybe the oldie candidates are all too wedded to their out-of-date view of Red Fuckgina. Younger candidates may stand firmer on this issue of freedom.

Freedom for posterity may not matter materially for the oldies but it's of the utmost importance for their posterity (I tolerated and griped about my Mom's austerity measures but she was right all along - freedom is worth the hardship; when one builds one's very own personal concentration camp, what signage befits it? 》Arbeit macht frei !《 ) Of course, we've got to be realistic and know our mortality limits so that "the torch [can be] passed to a new generation." We must hold on to it tightly as if we can live forever (being bulletproof, bombproof, etc.) but also pass it on to posterity in due time when the worthy successors come along. It's a lighthouse keeper's job.

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 1 week ago

''Bernie Sanders Shares His Plan for a Working-Class Revolution'' by Kim Kelly:

KK/TV: "Under this administration, all workers are under attack. What do you think the ongoing strike wave that we’ve been seeing since 2018 means for the future of the working class?"

BS: "What it means is that working people are sick and tired of being exploited, of not seeing any pay increases, of having to pay more and more for the health care that they get. I will tell you what really impressed me is the action taken by teachers in so-called ”red” states all across this country: Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and elsewhere. We saw that, and now we’re seeing workers all over the country beginning to stand up to corporations. Just the other day, I was on the picket line with UAW workers outside of Detroit, and they’re taking on the greed of General Motors, who have billions of dollars to provide for stock buybacks; who gives their CEO [almost] $22 million dollars a year in salary compensation; who are outsourcing jobs. They have the money and the ability to do all that, but they can’t take good care of their workers.

''I was proud to stand with UAW, and the night before that, I was with the Chicago Teachers Union and the SEIU while they were in the process of figuring out whether they were going to authorize a strike, because they are also not getting the wages they need or the kind of school budget that they need. So you’re seeing that increased militancy in a way we have not seen for a very long time, and I think that’s a good thing.'' Also see ...

fiat lux ...

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 6 days ago

''Critics Use Bernie Sanders’ Heart Attack .. To Smear Medicare For All!'' .. by Michael Corcoran: