Bernie Sanders finally announced that he is running for President this week. When asked what would be different this time around, he replied, “We will win.”
Can he win? Yes, there are lots of reasons to believe he can.
There’s the 6 million dollars he raised in the 24 hours after his announcement, most of it from his over-two-million-person list of donors from 2016. Of his competitors for the Democratic Party nomination, the second-best in this regard was Kamala Harris pulling in 1.5 million.
There’s the very important fact that after 2016 he and his supporters got themselves organized into an independent national organization, Our Revolution, with 600 chapters in just about every state. None of his competitors have anything close to that. When combined with the many millions of others not active in Our Revolution who supported him in 2016 and/or will be supporting him now, and remembering the massive, people-powered momentum built with his leadership in 2015-2016, calling it an “army” seems accurate.
There are the steps he has taken to politically strengthen both his message and his connections to important constituencies where he had weaknesses in 2016. An example is the fact that there are four co-chairs of his campaign, California Congressperson Ro Khanna, Our Revolution leader and former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, San Juan, PR mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, and Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Three of the four are people of color, two are women.
Another example of how he has politically strengthened his positions is an In These Times article last month where he articulated a good analysis of US militarism and an imperialist foreign policy, without using those words.
Bernie doesn’t always get every issue right, but he does so on the vast majority of issues, and in 2015-16 he showed that he listens and will often respond when people make constructive criticisms, no matter how sharply, on issues where he is seen as weak. He has kept his principles despite being in Congress for 30 years. And he has shown that he knows how to work with people to the political right of him, even Republican Senators like Mike Lee and John McCain, on specific legislation where there is a common concern.
These are all important strengths.
The reaction of corporate and centrist Democrats in the media to, first, the likelihood of Sanders running again and, now, his jumping in feet first and ready to go, has been interesting. When he did so in 2015 as the only person at the time willing to take on Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party corporatists, a good bit of the media coverage was along the lines of it being a classic David vs. Goliath match-up. Not so this time. This time, there is real fear that, given all of his strengths and the fact that he is a, if not the, top political leader of the progressive movement which led to the Democrats taking over the House, he clearly has a realistic chance of winning.
But what about Donald Trump? News report indicate that Trump is already strategizing about how he can divide the Democrats, throw them off stride, and eventually win re-election (assuming he isn’t impeached or forced to resign after the Mueller report eventually comes out). Won’t Bernie’s open support of democratic socialism give Trump an advantage?
I can understand why people who aren’t socialists, or who genuinely believe that liberal moderation is the right path, would be nervous about the possibility of Bernie facing off against Mafioso Don, or whomever the Trumpist Republicans end up nominating. Those concerns are only going to be allayed as they see the growth of the Bernie campaign or as they talk to young people, maybe their children, who get it on why gradualism and moderation just aren’t what’s needed in our massively unequal, unjust and wounded world. Or maybe they will come to realize that, indeed, the way to defeat the Republicans is exactly with a mobilization of the young, the disaffected, the disenchanted, those who rarely vote who, when they do in big numbers, can bring about a genuine political revolution. Bernie has shown he can deliver that, both in Vermont and in his 2016 campaign.
Bernie has lots of experience dealing with red-baiting attacks on his democratic socialism. Pathological liar, racist, sexist, xenophobe Donald Trump, with his hovering-around-40% support, his base which sure didn’t deliver for him in 2018, is no match for Bernie.
Do we on the left realize what is within our grasp with Bernie’s campaign, what a different country and world it will be if he wins? Just in time, just in time, just in time, we can envision and make happen what the world needs at this absolutely critical moment for its threatened ecosystems and peoples.
I see no other campaign which comes close to the Sanders campaign, on just about every level. Now that Bernie has stepped forward, it’s time for us to do the same. Win, Bernie, win!
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist, organizer and writer since 1968. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.