With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on a trajectory to win the Democratic nomination for president, socialism is the talk of the nation. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, has proposed big reforms, including universal healthcare, tuition-free college, and more than doubling the federal minimum wage. His ascent has the Democratic establishment and corporate pundits concerned. What the media doesn’t acknowledge is that socialism is everywhere in America already. And whether they realize it or not, Americans like it. Continue reading
Whether or not Howard Schultz, the billionaire former CEO of Starbucks, runs for president in 2020 hinges largely on what direction the Democratic Party goes. Schultz, who has no political experience, is concerned that the party has become too left-wing, pushed by prominent congresspeople like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In order to save the country from a choice between socialism and Donald Trump, Schultz may be compelled to run as a “centrist independent.”
In a media blitz late last month, Schultz slammed Trump, calling the president “despicable” and accusing him of doing “almost everything possible to discredit the dignity, the civility, the values, the respectfulness of the Oval Office with no degree of any sense of responsibility to the American people.” Schultz’s remarks were notably lacking in specifics. While his most sanctimonious denunciations were of Trump’s demeanor and vulgarity, his strongest policy critiques were directed at Democrats, particularly Ocasio-Cortez. Continue reading
By Kyle Schmidlin and Eldon Katz
Everyone has friends or family members who define themselves as “socially liberal; but fiscally conservative.” The conservative libertarian views their ideology as a mature, pragmatic, and disciplined compromise, the best way to get as many people what they want and maximize everybody’s liberty and opportunity.
But this vision of liberty is perverted and one-sided in favor of the powerful. It grants people the freedom to exploit, but not freedom from exploitation, effectively treating the liberty of the powerful as absolute but anyone else’s liberty as flexible. As Bertrand Russell put it, “The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.” Continue reading
Chess grandmaster and Russian dissident Garry Kasparov sees the failures of his homeland reflected in the policies of Bernie Sanders. Last week he took to Facebook and The Daily Beast to warn of the dangers of big government, writing, “I’m enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means.”
Kasparov grew up in the Soviet Union and ran a courageous presidential campaign against Russia’s oppressive Vladimir Putin. He doesn’t need a lecture, but his article needs counterpoints. Even with his unique political experience Kasparov states his case in overly black and white terms. He ignores the prominent role social programs have played throughout American history and writes as though private business ventures are the world’s best – maybe only – force for good. Continue reading
Millennials might be willing to embrace socialism, but the word has been a liability for self-defined democratic socialist Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. It was the focus of his first question at the first Democratic debate. To his credit, Sanders has not tried to distance himself from the word. Instead, on November 19 Sanders delivered a powerful, campaign-defining speech at Georgetown University outlining his vision of democratic socialism and the future of the nation. Continue reading
With over a million small contributions from 700,000 ordinary Americans, the Bernie Sanders campaign has remarkable popular support. He’s accomplished this despite some notable handicaps: he self-applies the label democratic socialist; he refuses to take money from Super PACs; and he’s up against Hillary Clinton, a member of one of America’s royal families whose nomination in the Democratic primaries is often treated as inevitable. As inspiring as it is to see him doing well, there are some things his campaign could do even better. Continue reading
After months of Republicans dominating 2016 election coverage, the Democrats finally had their chance in the spotlight. Their debate was certainly a more down-to-earth presentation than the hysterical Republican spectacles, but it wasn’t without moments of surrealism. Overall, though, the debate served primarily to reveal the superficiality of our political system.
If anything, that superficiality really speaks to the need for more debates. The Democrats aren’t having another one until November 14. All the candidates really had time to do at the first debate was speak in talking points. It wouldn’t have been that different a show if candidates just took turns reading blurbs from their campaign websites. Continue reading
Even as mass shootings in America have become almost a banality, last week’s massacre in Charleston, South Carolina manages to stand out. White supremacist Dylann Roof brought a concealed handgun into an African-American church, issued a series of terrifying proclamations about a race war, and murdered nine people. He intentionally left witnesses so they could repeat his words. Later research uncovered a trove of racism, including a detailed manifesto and pictures of the shooter wearing patches of racist African regimes on his jacket.
Any sane person could acknowledge that our gun culture, combined with venomous and widely proliferated rhetoric about black “takers” and “thugs,” were the ingredients for this act of terror. Yet in the tragedy’s immediate aftermath, conservatives threw their hands up in the air, offered meaningless condolences and said, essentially, “Who knows what went wrong or what we can do about it?” Continue reading
The word “socialism” possesses the power in American political discourse to end debates, thwart policy proposals and tarnish reputations. All FOX News has to do is put a politician’s name and “socialist” in the same sentence and the message to their viewers is clear. For millions of Americans, socialism is regarded as an existential, heretical threat.
Part of what enables this is the corruption of our vocabulary to the point where words like “socialism,” “big government” and “fascism” have almost no meaning. It’s bad enough that the technical definitions vary from textbook to textbook and society to society, but many times they often simply stand in for, as George Orwell put it, “something not desirable.” So wildly misunderstood are these concepts that in 2009, anti-Obamacare activists carried signs demanding, “Keep government socialism away from my Medicare.” This is a bit like saying, “Keep the post office away from my mail.”
Now, with self-described democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders entering the 2016 presidential race and drawing widespread popular support, the tide might be changing. But convincing Americans to violate capitalist dogma is tricky, even if it’s in their best interest. Here, capitalism is not so much an economic model as it is a national religion, with defenders as fanatical as any other. Continue reading
Of the last seven presidential terms, only Barack Obama’s two have not been held by a Bush or Clinton. Preliminary media coverage is already predicting the 2016 ticket will be Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton, keeping the dynastic tradition intact. A more depressing – not to mention less democratic – prospect is difficult to imagine. But Americans are lucky to have a candidate who promises to shake up our lesser-of-two-evils politics in 2016: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Continue reading