Exeter, Devon UK • May 27, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment Bernie Sanders: People Before Power?

Bernie Sanders: People Before Power?

Thomas Sloman discusses Bernie Sanders' recent resignation in the upcoming US elections
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Image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Thomas Sloman discusses Bernie Sanders’ recent resignation from the upcoming US elections

Morris Berman once said; “An idea is something you have, an ideology is something that has you.”

Bernie Sanders’ political ideology unsurprisingly came to Eden when the man now affectionately named ‘Bern’ spent the summer of ’63 in an Israeli Kibbutz near the city of Haifa, living as an equal amongst others that supported and even preached communist ideals. This is principally the period when his socialist ideology ‘had him,’ seeing for the first time that wealth and rights can be distributed equally to create a fairer society.  However, since becoming a prominent politician in the American partisan system, he’s found that preaching an ideology isn’t always ideal for keeping those that listen to you so sweet. 

The key demographic that supported Sanders and saw his philosophy burn crimson (the same type of voter that voted for Trump in 2016), are the silent majority that remains sceptical about big business and centralised government. They have stayed within their remit of anger since Bernie began running for the oval office half a decade ago and followed his rally cries of socialism.  And their fire doesn’t dissipate so quickly as a pint of Heady Topper (Berns’ choice of local ale) when the base of the democrats comes a calling.

In his presidential campaign of 2016 many thought he stood a good chance of getting on the ticket as a Democratic party progressive.  Back then he was a left of centre liberal who wanted to see radical change in American politics and shake things up as a grassroots candidate.  But a champion’s cause can be misshapen over a five-year period coupled with a disjointed series of events, especially if that period is run by someone like Trump and makes Bernie fearful for the future of American politics.  The swearing in of ‘The Donald’ has made him more concerned about keeping the current president from achieving a second term than seeing the best candidate leading the Democrats back into the White House.  This shift in gears has put socialism into second banana, much to the disheartening of his followers.  Novelist A.E Samaan once wrote; “Socialists and progressives continually confuse compassion with compulsion.”  Sanders’ new mission is making it compulsory to rid American politics of Trump for the sake of compassion.

Image: rawpixel

In an interview with Cardi B he proclaimed Donald Trump to be; “the most dangerous president in modern history.”  If Rosa Luxemburg proclaimed the choice to be between socialism or barbarism, Trump in Bernie’s eyes falls rather uncomfortably into the latter. Unfortunately, what I saw take place five years ago and last week also was his want to appease the democrats above all else, unreservedly backing Hillary in 2016 and Joe Biden this year; much to the anger of his followers.

This game of backing the winner can only be played so many times by Bernie before his supporters begin to look for a new messiah who will put country first.  You only have to look at the result of the last UK election and the working class vote for the Conservative agenda to realise that a promise is not forever. In the end, the electorate aren’t afraid to jump ship if it means fighting for self-preservation over recognition (even though the two aren’t always mutually exclusive).  For someone who professes to be a Democratic socialist Sanders needs to plough the deep recesses of his political canon to see which one he considers more important in the politics he preaches. 

So with questions in the last week surrounding whether he conceded the race on the grounds that he wants to collect more delegates at the democratic convention and the need to put pressure on Biden to support more centre left policies, it looks like only a matter of time before the ghost is up.  But now he needs to make a decision before conceding completely; are his people, those who question the centralisation of wealth and power, the ones to sate politically or does he keep the base sweet for another shot at the title in another five years?  The battle between grassroots politics, and the power of the state that Sanders supposedly is fighting against.

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