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Bernie Sanders & the Progressive Agenda
An Editorial from the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents
WHILE MANY PROGRESSIVES are already hoping that the ‘inevitability’ of Hillary Clinton will carry her all the way to the White House in 2016, thus sparing the country — and the planet! — the unaffordable cost of having Republican control of all three branches of the federal government, the entry of Senator Bernie Sanders into the race is still heartening. Bernie, as his constituents call him, is sure to bring to the campaign actual progressive proposals on taxation, economic justice, regulating business, women’s autonomy, peace instead of war, global climate change, and other issues that Clinton (and Democrats running for Congress) would just as soon remain vague about while conducting their image-driven races. Bernie won’t run a campaign as a centrist or faux Republican. He still believes that presenting ideas that favor working-class interests can win votes from working-class people.
That’s the challenging part: Sanders will essentially be putting the progressive agenda up for a vote within the Democratic Party, even more straightforwardly than Rand Paul is putting up the libertarian agenda for a vote with the Republican Party. (Paul clearly has fantasies of actually getting his party’s nomination by becoming ‘libertarian lite.’) If Sanders fails to challenge Clinton in the primary vote count, the media will promptly cart his outspoken leftwing politics, which they’ve already consigned to the trashbin, curbside.
Fortunately, we get to vote twice: for our hopes in the primaries, for our protection in the election. At the same time, we can use Bernie’s campaign to build a movement to challenge corporate control of the Democratic Party.