Proclaiming victory. The left should shout with pride-it’s a Bernie Sanders victory! His two candidacies arrived at an historic moment and given us the rebirth of a left-wing political force, well-financed, with the capacity to stay in the race and learn from its mistakes.
The result is awesome- the left has a future. After two presidential campaigns-an in-your-face unapologetic socialist movement had the support of about 3 in 10 of the people who voted in the Democratic primaries. This is the rebirth of the left as a significant political force. It’s an historic moment.
Even after victories, Joe Biden is looking over his shoulder to see if the pandemic will tip matters in Bernie’s direction. The left is a power in U.S. politics, it should savor its progress and pursue its campaign to make capitalism fair and just with renewed vigor.
The Corona Virus has made Medicare for all a national necessity. A first step is the $150 billion in the economic stimulus to help hospitals treat the surge in patients.
An obvious sign that this is historic moment is the abrupt return of the bi-partisan Congress. Remarkably the United States Senate is in a can-do mood. This Republican body where votes often divided on party line have unanimously passed the biggest economic aid package in history. The virus and public health warnings have united the warring political parties—historic.
Moreover the aid package includes key Democratic demands like increasing the miserly unemployment benefits, and money for income-tax filers. Passing in record speed again with Republican support. Even Trump joined in.
Of course, Bernie has little to do with these changes. Events caused this new cooperation. But Republicans and Democrats adopted policies that are compatible with Bernie’s ideas. It’s a testimony to the validity of his ideas, just as the failure of his campaign to win the nomination is a reason to revise the left’s program.
Anticipating that unemployment applications would go through the roof, the Senate’s $2 trillion package boosted unemployment insurance payment by $600. This is a radical move. The national average unemployment benefit check reports the Washington Post is currently $385 a week, which is “less than half the typical weekly paycheck in the United States.” Supplementing this money, most income tax filers will be eligible for one-time payments of between $1200 to $2400 and $500 per child. This is compatible with a guaranteed income, the socialist alternative to welfare payments for those belittled as needy.
Bernie insisted his plans weren’t radical. It turns out he is right. Confronting a public health imposed recession, Republicans and Democrats responded by helping the wage earner. Sander’s values and politics are majoritarian.
The package started at one trillion and but to become law it reached $2T, the path to unanimity required spend, spend, and spend more. Traditionally Republicans have criticized this policy but practiced it, the Democrats usually opted for a balanced budget. Bernie was identified with those who thought government spending would increase wages and economic growth. When push came to shove everybody accepted this policy.
The day after Senate passage came the news that the United States had entered a new era-3.3 million wage earners had filed for unemployment insurance. It dwarfed a 38-year-old record from 1982 when 665,000 applied in one week. This number is a mere fraction of 3.3 million, another sign that we are in a historic era. In the space of three weeks the United States has gone from full employment at 3.5% to projections of 5% or more.
A sudden government imposed economic downturn is a new historic reality. Only time will tell if it brings an authoritarian or democratic result. One thing is certain the left will fight for a democratic result.
Bernie’s plea for Medicare for all met a vicious counterattack from Democrats. The stand patters claimed it would harm those with gold plated health insurance exploiting divisions within the Democratic Party. The attackers called themselves pragmatists and take pride in their political realism refused to recognize that this line of attack weakened the Democratic Party. These supposed realists created conflict when harmony is a wiser course. Bernie’s policies often strengthen the party by uniting the prosperous and those struggling to make ends meet. This is an opportunity the pragmatists rejected. They asserted, it would never work, it would never pass. In a few short weeks, this political realism evaporated.
Bernie would bring those who have seen their living conditions stagnate back into the Democratic Party. This 2 trillion-dollar package creates such an opportunity for Democrats. Bernie would be wise to point this out and try to persuade the pragmatist to try idealism. Leadership from the left is possible.
The Corona Virus has shown that Bernie is right, big activist government is in the national interest and in the Democrat’s best interest. The left shouldn’t be shy about pointing out the political realism of their policies.
Normally, politicians believe the candidate who articulates an optimistic view of the future wins.
The Democratic Party has yet to take advantage of the left’s view that global warming represents a unique opportunity to move the United States into a prosperous future. The pragmatist should embrace the policy of rebuilding the American economy so that is environmentally friendly. This is the path to economic prosperity, higher wages, and shorter work week giving Americans more hours of leisure. This is the socialist nirvana that the Left can urge on the Democratic Party.
The left will have an opportunity when it comes time to restore the U.S. economy to press its objective. Party leaders would do well to see the essential realism in left-wing demands.
Bernie has started the ball rolling. Events have demonstrated that the Federal Government not private enterprise is the safety net. Bernie offers an alternative. It is more than a safety net, it should be the engine of prosperity and may be just maybe after we will restore prosperity and bring climate change under control.