Bernie is the Democratic trifecta.
I went to a great program held at the public library last night entitled something like “Marxism, racism and classism.” There were a lot of good points about the intersection of class and race.What was interesting to me was the perspective of some panelists whose white trade unionist families voted for Reagan. But the main take away I got was a framing of how classism and racism were not traditionally coupled in the Democratic Party.
Certainly there was plenty of racism in the implementation of the New Deal. The New Deal was an advancement in terms of class consciousness, but Eleanor Roosevelt’s advocacy for POC was not sufficient to make the New Deal racially just, in an era when lynching was still rampant. Then LBJ was able to inject racial consciousness into Democratic policy in the mid 60s. But the McGovern Commission , although committed to racial and gender diversity, diminished the influence and participation of labor, possibly related to a cultural schism with white working class voters. Those “hard hat” voters were still generally in favor of a war of choice in Viet Nam.
So the Party sacrificed class values in favor of racial and gender values and in 1972, for the first time since the New Deal, organized labor was not solidly Democratic (the Teamsters endorsed Nixon and the AFL-CIO sat out). Also, the incorporation of young voters meant the Party was focused on both inclusiveness and environmental justice. So we went from a party of class consciousness to a party emphasizing social and environmental justice. The neoliberal takeover of the Party in the late 80s exacerbated the apathy for the interests of working people.
Fast forward to Bernie Sanders. His campaign had meteoric success during the 2015 “Summer of Sanders,” but encountered two BLM protests which created an image problem with black voters, initially. That problem has long since been turned into a strength for Sanders. He is the most popular politician in America and his popularity is highest among African Americans, of any ethnic group polled.
The synthesis of these phenomena in 2015 was that Sanders emphasized social justice in addition to economic and environmental justice, in his stump speech and policy initiatives.
Viewed in the light of FDR, LBJ and McGovern, Bernie can be seen as the first Democrat to successfully combine the three pillars of economic, social and environmental justice in one coherent message. FDR had strong class consciousness in his approach, but an emphasis on racial justice was lacking. LBJ focused on both racial and economic justice, but the modern environmental movement had not yet achieved critical mass (the first Earth Day was in 1970). The McGovern Commission was long on diversity and McGovern’s presidential campaign was certainly robust for that time on environmental issues, but because of a cultural schism, labor was de-emphasized. Thomas Frank, in “Listen, Liberal,” discusses how that watershed has led to a permanent abandonment of the working class by the Democratic Party, from trade deals, to a lack of good policy on minimum wage, right to organize, etc.
So Bernie, by re-introducing class consciousness into the political equation in a way Jesse Jackson and Dennis Kucinich could not, has fulfilled the promise of the Democratic Party. In other words we have a potential candidate for 2020 who is electable precisely because he convincingly embraces the three pillars of economic, social and environmental justice.GloriaMundi, tk2kewl, Florida Bull and 33 othersPastiche, Billsmile, LaaDeeDaaVA, Fire with Fire, ravensong, eridani, donDonE, incognito, 99thMonkey, Coldmountaintrail, WillyT, tokenlib, Enthusiast, Paka, xynthee, snot, NothingcleverjustRay, Rocco, ozoneman, Mabus, Baba OhReally, twenty, disillusioned73, ccinamon, dlegendary1, broiles, jwirr, Abelenkpe, Scuba, iggy, Entrepreneur, Two way street, area woman like thisHope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. Vaclav Havel
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