, 48 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
.@BernieSanders is currently delivering a speech on democratic socialism at George Washington university. It cam be watched live here.
So far Sanders has emphasized the polarization of American politics - with oligarchy on the one side and various movements for democracy on the other
Sanders: Three families control more than half of wealth in America and 49% of all new income generated today goes to the top 1%. Income and wealth inequality are now higher than they've been since the 1920s.
"After decades of policies that have encouraged corporate greed, we now have an economy that is fundamentally broken and unfair...millions of middle & working class people struggle to keep their heads above water while the billionaire class takes the lion's share of wealth"
Sanders is also emphasizing the gendered and racial dimensions of oligarchy and inequality, noting the recent rollbacks of reproductive rights and the rise of mass incarceration
Sanders notes that life expectancy for the wealthy remains much higher than it currently is for working class people: "The issue of unfettered capitalism is not merely an academic debate."
Sanders: "If we don't turn things around our younger generation will for the first time in living memory have a lower standard of living than their parents"
Sanders: The richest 26 billionaires now own as much wealth as more than 3 billion of the poorest - half of the world's population
Sanders cites the growth of authoritarian regimes melding corporatist economics with xenophobia, citing Orban, Bolsanaro and Saudi Arabia among others.
Sanders: "In the United States we have our own version of this [authoritarian movement] led by President Trump and his Republican allies."
Sanders invokes the Great Depression and its aftermath: "Deeply rooted...economic and social disparities led to the rise of right wing and nationalist forces all over the world. In Europe the anger and despair was...fused with nationalism and xenophobia."
Sanders notes that right wing authoritarianism in the 1930s culminated in the murder of millions including members of his own family.
In a particularly chilling reference Sanders mentions the famous American Nazi Party rally at Madison Square Garden in the 1930s
Sanders is now talking about FDR's realignment of American politics, noting that it was challenged by Republicans, big business, and the right wing of the Democratic politics. "He faced the same scare tactics that we experience today."
Sanders quotes FDR: “We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering..."
"They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob."
Sanders concludes: "Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.”
Sanders jokes: "It does sound a little contemporary doesn't it?"
"It is no exaggeration to state that not only did FDR's agenda improve the lives of millions of Americans, but the New Deal was tremendously popular politically and helped defeat far right extremism."
"Today we see huge private monopolies operating without any real oversight...they are the gatekeepers of our healthcare, our food supply, and almost every meaningful aspect of our lives."
Sanders cites the military industrial complex, private insurance companies, the prison industrial complex and others. Notes that these powerful actors have an army of lobbyists in Washington who essentially write much of the legislation.
Sanders is now pivoting to the thesis of his speech, which is that the path away from authoritarianism and oligarchy is "the path I call democratic socialism"
Sanders: "We must complete the business of the New Deal. This means protecting civil rights, political rights, and economic rights for all of the people in our country."
Sanders again quotes FDR: "We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence."
"Now we must take the next step forward and guarantee every person in our country basic economic rights: the right to quality healthcare, the right to as much education as one needs to succeed, the right to a good job that pays a living wage, the right to affordable housing..."
"...the right to a secure retirement, and the right to live in a clean environment. We must recognize that in the 21st century in the wealthiest country in history, economic rights are human rights. And that is what I mean by democratic socialism."
Sanders quotes MLK: "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children."
Quotes MLK again: "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."
"I and other progressives will face multiple attacks from those who will use socialism as a slur. But let me tell you that I have faced those attacks for decades and I am not the only one." Sanders citing examples of red-baiting from the 30s, particularly directed against the ND.
Sanders notes that the AMA called Harry Truman's healthcare plan "socialized medicine" and said his administration included "followers of the Moscow party line" and notes they hired Ronald Reagan as their hit man.
Sanders quotes Truman again, noting that every significant advancement in American politics has been derided as "socialism"
Sanders now distinguishing between "democratic and corporate socialism", noting that Wall Street loves the state and public spending when it benefits them.
I think the point is precisely that they will dismiss it, thus highlighting the distinction between Sanders and his rivals - none of whom will go where he's currently going
Sanders: We Trump attacks socialism I am reminded again of MLK, who said "The problem is that we all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor."
Sanders argues we need to rethink the meaning freedom: "Are you truly free when you spend half your income on housing? Are you truly free when you are 70 years old and lack a pension to retire?"
"Are you truly free if you are forced to work 60 or 80 hours a week because you can't find a job that pays a living wage? Are you truly free if you are a new mother forced to go back to work immediately after the birth of your child because you don't have paid family leave?"
"It is time, long overdue, for the American people to stand up for their right to freedom, human dignity, and security."
"In 1944 FDR proposed an economic bill of rights...our job is to complete what he started. And that is why today I am proposing a 21st century economic bill of rights"
Sanders: We must establish "once and for all that every American is entitled to a decent job that pays a living wage, quality healthcare, affordable housing" among other things
Sanders: "Democratic socialism means for me the establishment of political & economic freedom in every community in this country. [We'll only win these things] through a political revolution...against those whose greed is destroying the social and economic fabric of our country"
Sanders finishes on that note. A few of my colleagues at @jacobinmag will have in depth commentary soon.
I expect Sanders's liberal invocations of FDR will be somewhat controversial on the left and there's an important discussion to be had around this framing.
Nonetheless, I think this marks a very conscious effort at transformative political change and significant political realignment - Sanders is attempting to revise core idioms of American politics and culture in quite fundamental ways.
The speech is likely to prompt confused and hostile reactions from some of the other Democratic presidential contenders, and that will only serve to reinforce its constructively polarizing message. #NoMiddleGround
Like the man said: Welcome their hatred.
Here are some thoughts on Sanders's speech from my colleague Meagan Day jacobinmag.com/2019/06/bernie…
Here's my take on Sanders's speech on democratic socialism yesterday for @jacobinmag: an important attempt to redefine freedom and reclaim it as a concept from the right. jacobinmag.com/2019/06/sander…
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