My pragmatist friends make a number of arguments in their effort to dismiss the Sanders phenomenon.First, Sanders is too left-wing to get nominated, much less elected. In principle he is, but this isn't a normal year. There is mass economic frustration in the land; it is finally, belatedly, the main issue in a presidential campaign; and, it is up for grabs politically and ideologically. We can blame foreigners and government, or we can blame a badly tilted economic system. If a Republican populist is nominated, a Democratic populist might well do better than a Democratic moderate in energizing the electorate and winning over working class voters who might otherwise support a figure like Donald Trump. The polls show Sanders doing better than Clinton against the main Republican contenders. My pragmatist friends dismiss these on the grounds that the voters haven't really focused on Sanders' views yet, and the Republicans haven't yet opened up the heavy artillery.
The worst moment of the entire 2016 presidential campaign was when Bernie Sanders first uttered the phrase "democratic socialist." Why? Because since last summer, it seems like every online discussion regarding the election has involved slapping a label on an issue or policy and then spiralling into a fruitless debate about its precise application or meaning.
A Brooklynite turned "back-to-the-land" Vermont socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union and has far less executive experience than Sarah Palin vs. a fact-free braying bully boy billionaire real estate and gambling mogul bizarrely backed by evangelicals would be crazy enough. Toss in another New Yorker, a billionaire "daddy knows best" ex-mayor and media mogul who is no class traitor and we get the full banana republic experience.
King was a radical. He challenged America's class system and its racial caste system. He was a strong ally of the nation's labor union movement. He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers' strike. In his critique of American society and his strategy for changing it, King pushed the country toward more democracy and social justice.
I'm also glad to see Cornel on the campaign trail with Bernie Sanders, who he refers to as a rare politician with integrity, honesty, and decency. As a Democratic Socialist (as was Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, and John Dewey), Bernie obviously cares more about the poor than any other candidate.