“Here's Why I Never Warmed Up to Bernie Sanders” (Kevin Drum, Mother Jones magazine) - A Refutation by Ridwan Meah
On April 29th, 2016, the renowned progressive magazine Mother Jones published an article entitled, “Here's Why I Never Warmed Up to Bernie Sanders.” Needless to say, even the Mother Jones Facebook share of the article captioned “This is going to piss a lot of people off.” The Democratic party, let alone American liberals, is already polarized by the differences between the two remaining Presidential candidates. An article like that of Mr. Drum’s makes various unfair claims on the status quo. This refutation will both challenge and concede Drum’s points, while taking that information and channeling it into a positive game plan in which all can find benefit.
Specifically, Drum calls out both Sanders’ “theory of governing” and “theory of change” as unsustainably damaging paths for our nation. Yet, Sanders’ theories on both have never actually changed. He has identified as a “democratic socialist” during his many decades as a politician. Sanders has always sought to work under the constructs of the democracy we all cherish, and his plans continue to do so. Though his theory of change is one that calls steps beyond incrementalism into more radical steps, in practice they are not nearly as destructive as Drum implies.
Sanders does have some risky, yet well intentioned, policy proposals. One of them is the single-payer healthcare system. The single-payer system has been commended by numerous groups, such as the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Physicians for a National Health Program , for objectively having more of an economic and societal benefit than the current Affordable Care Act. In practice, however, instituting the single payer healthcare system over the ACA (which Sanders helped to institute as Senator), would require completely overturning the ACA (which would antagonize current Democrats) and passing through Republicans who would not dare to support either program. This dilemma is one that indicates that incrementalism is more effective than the potential big steps of the Sanders campaign. In practice, however, Sanders would not be able to cause this much damage. That is the benefit of his being a democratic socialist - in the end, democracy wins. This is why Drum’s thesis ultimately fails. Sanders understands and respects the construct under which he works, and so he will not cause any distinct damage.
A more accurate instance of Sanders’ “revolution” is the re-institution of a (modern version of) Glass-Steagall. This was a major piece of legislation of the FDR era that split commercial and investment banks to prevent high-risk stock trading from affecting the bank accounts of average Americans. Glass-Steagall is current a hot-topic issue among Democrats , having been supported by other Democrats like former presidential candidate Martin O’Malley and Senator Elizabeth Warren. However, it is challenged by Secretary Clinton, whose husband repealed the original version in 1999 by signing the 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA). Sanders and his allies in this cause will score a major victoryOn April 29th, 2016, the renowned progressive magazine Mother Jones published an article entitled, “Here's Why I Never Warmed Up to Bernie Sanders.” Needless to say, even the Mother Jones Facebook share of the article captioned “This is going to piss a lot of people off.” The Democratic party, let alone American liberals, is already polarized by the differences between the two remaining Presidential candidates. An article like that of Mr. Drum’s makes various unfair claims on the status quo. This refutation will both challenge and concede Drum’s points, while taking that information and channeling it into a positive game plan in which all can find benefit.
if they reinstate Glass-Steagall. It would represent a major challenge to major banks and contribute to precluding another crisis similar to that of 2008. This would be consistent with the “revolutionary” spirit of Sanders, though it will only be a decisive reform in practice. That is the beauty of Sanders’ movement - his changes aren’t as egregious as the words used to describe them. They are done within sustainable constructs, both in theory and in practice. Drum makes the assertion that change in this construct is done through “the old-fashioned way: through the slow boring of hard wood.” And he’s exactly right. Only, Bernie Sanders understands that just as well, and unlike Drum, knows the process all too well through decades of legislative experience.
Drum ends his article on a cynical note: Bernie Sanders’ campaign in doomed to fail, only to leave a trail of political cynicism in its wake. This accusation is baseless. The Sanders campaign has fearlessly exposed numerous brewing economic, social, and political issues that few individuals were able to bring to a national (and even an international) scale. Corporate excesses, income inequality, money in politics, you name it - the Sanders campaign has significantly helped to bring these topics into a greater light. These issues are so broad and impactful that they won’t need a single figure like Sanders to sustain them. Countless other activists, in addition to existing ones, will continue to work towards progress in all these causes. Millennials in particular, which Mr. Drum may be pointing too, seem to be permanently influenced by Sanders’ message . What Sanders has done is enable countless more individuals who would otherwise not have found information on these topics to become aware, and perhaps, more empowered to tackle them.
So, Mr. Drum, the revolution has begun. And no, this will not involve the uprooting of our entire political or economic system. It involves individual dialogue, action, and cooperation. Senator Sanders is empowering countless Americans to remember their rights to political involvement within the constructs we were all endowed with. Sure, he may defy the status quo - and maybe, that is not a bad thing. Yes, we may all be “living well,” but that does not mandate complacency. Our democratic society allows us to ask for more, for the best. That is the dream, the revolution, the “future to believe in” of the Sanders campaign.
Meah is a contributor for The Millennial Times.