Wrong about Bernie Sanders

SocialistWorker.org readers respond to "The problem with Bernie Sanders", which argued that a Sanders' candidacy for the Democratic Party presidential nomination is less about socialism and more about funneling left-wing voters into the Democrats.

Sanders' nuanced positions

I DID not know much about Bernie Sanders until the past few days. What I did know was based on the opinions of a few people and the media. The bottom line is that, basically, he was portrayed as a dangerous radical and something of a joke. I've spent a good deal of time listening to his speeches online and reading every article I can find.

Instead of some kind of radical or kook, I found an intelligent, nuanced thoughtful person who goes against the grain of your average politician. If you ask him a question he answers it. He is not afraid to stand by his beliefs. He is open-minded. He is not afraid to go head-to-head with those on the right. He provides space to those on his left to listen to their views. If he is treated with respect, he treats his opponents with respect. The only time I saw him lose it was when he was continuously shouted down by a protester at a town hall meeting who disagreed with his views on Gaza.

I am impressed with his realism. He sticks to his positions and is consistent. But he is willing to make compromises if he can achieve at least some of his goals. Those on the far right portray compromise as something bad. My reading of your article is that you are an all-or-nothing-at-all advocate for your beliefs. If someone such as Bernie doesn't tow your line close to 100 percent, then they are dismissed.

Perhaps Bernie does not even come close to meeting any of your goals. I don't know. At a minimum, I find that I agree with his positions at least 80 percent of the time and that percentage keeps growing as I listen to his nuanced analysis and realistic and opened minded approach to some of the most difficult issues of our day.
Charles Gravitz, Silver Spring, Maryland

Readers' Views

SocialistWorker.org welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

Sanders has already won

BERNIE SANDERS does not have to become president in order to win. Just by getting in the ring, he has already scored a major victory for the American working class. His campaign is blazing a new trail to the left in the American political system. In the coming years, we will probably see the development of a Democratic Socialist Party in the U.S.

Win or lose, his campaign will lay the foundation for a new American left. His candidacy has opened the door to socialism in the U.S. The debate about America's economic future will no longer be a debate between the center and the right. Finally, the real left will be heard.

The people who will be galvanized by the Sanders campaign have no reason to consider socialism a dirty word. We have witnessed in our lifetime the epic, miserable failure of unrestrained capital. We can see the devastation global capital is inflicting on the environment. Our generation has trillions in student loan debt. We have no health care. Our wages are stagnant. We feel these truths to be self-evident.

The steel door that capital bolted shut on the working class, locking socialism away from the debate, has been blown off its hinges by Bernie Sanders, allowing socialism in America to finally breath again.

There is a real possibility now for a sustained assault on capital. For too long, radicals have felt completely shut out of the mainstream debate. For too long, we have felt apathetic about the political process in this country because we were relegated to the fringes of society. We had to Occupy in order to be heard. We were totally shut out of the system. All we could do was occupy, protest, or riot.

Now we have the ultimate, mainstream option available: Taking over the White House.

It's only been a few days since Sanders announced his candidacy, but already, the left is beginning to realize how hugely significant a moment this is for American politics. You can hear the first rumblings of an enormous grassroots movement developing. One hundred seventy-five thousand people have already signed up to volunteer for the Sanders campaign.

Hillary Clinton is not a foregone conclusion in 2016, any more than she was in 2008. She can be beat, again. She is not entitled to the presidency. And neither is Jeb Bush.

Americans do not necessarily want to hand over the future of this country to another Bush or another Clinton. We do have the ability to chart a different path. We are capable of another revolution in America: a socialist revolution.
Justin Akers, McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Bernie is our best shot

I WAS very disappointed with this article. It completely ignores the reality of the current presidential race: extreme right-wingers, corporate sellouts and just flat-out corrupt individuals. Without Bernie, one of these characters is guaranteed the position of commander-in-chief.

An independent or third-party candidate has absolutely no chance of beating out the two dominant parties at the current time, but Bernie Sanders represents the first true liberal challenger in a long time to potentially become a serious challenger. His decision to run as a Democrat puts him in a position to directly confront Democratic candidates in debates, as independent/third-party candidates are often overlooked in these debates.

Instead of hoping for some great grassroots movement to emerge, liberals now have a chance to disturb the corporatist powers that be, and force the Democratic Party away from the center-right. That, to me, is monumentally better than potentially allowing Marco Rubio or Hillary Clinton into the White House. One thing is absolutely certain: The poor and middle class would profoundly benefit from Bernie Sanders policies, and that is the best we have for 2016.
Eric, Texas

Vote for Bernie and build movements

SO ARE you suggesting that we not vote in this election? The conclusion of the article says we should be putting our efforts into activism. Do you see activism and voting as incompatible somehow, or mutually exclusive?
Robert James, Temecula, California

A chance for socialists in the election

WOW! WHAT a lot of words, speculation, theory and fluff. While you all are pulling lint from your navels, Bernie--a man in his 70s, a lifelong democratic socialist, an honest, dedicated, real person--is willing to throw himself into the lion's den of presidential politics for his principles, for what he believes in, for the American people. He is DOING something!

It is no surprise when the right attacks him. It is not unexpected, though disappointing, when liberals attack him. But when other socialists attack him because of all kind of "what ifs" and "could bes" and hoped for but non-existent conditions, that's the height of self-inflicted irrelevance.

Instead of cheering the fact that a socialist of the character, abilities, commitment and gravitas of Bernie Sanders has the opportunity to enter a presidential race; instead of getting behind this opportunity to promote socialist ideas and raise the public's consciousness; instead of recognizing this as a very rare opportunity for socialists to take the public stage and do themselves proud, you all choose to give up all that because he is not one of you. Because it did not come about the way YOU think it should. You are not only being arrogant, but you are also unstrategic and immature.

How long has it been since a socialist has gotten anywhere near a presidential election? How long will it be until the next time? If you insist on waiting for perfect conditions, you will wait forever. Carpe diem, dudes! Sour grapes is not becoming to serious socialists.
Max Mastellone, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Sanders can give us hope

BOO! MY life has been miserable under Reaganomics since the day I dropped out of college $250 short of graduation, and you are going to disparage the little sense of hope I've felt since the Obama disappointment became an obvious scam? Bernie can do more as the governor of a small left-leaning state? Should we all move to Vermont?

Shame on you for dashing my hopes. We need national leaders of conviction and we need a national dialogue of meaning. There is no problem with Bernie Sanders challenging within the once great Democratic Party. Remember FDR? Remember Henry Wallace?

Are you really on our side or did you just need to find some dribble to write a few paragraphs because the rent is due? Your writing made me angry, and the timing of it made me even more angry.
Ronald D. Carlson, Ridgewood, New York