Why Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Matters

Published on ZNet, by Ron Daniels, Feb 15, 2016.

… Bernie Sanders is articulating a bold vision of what should and can be achieved if millions believe and join the “revolution” by educating, mobilizing and marching on ballot boxes to chasten the billionaire class, the oligarchy, to transform the face of this nation. A parasitical billionaire class, Wall Street, must be compelled to pay the price for a more just and humane America. Millions of people are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of pedestrian politics and business as usual. Vision matters, and it is Bernie Sanders’ vision and the meaning of the message that is motivating millions to join the “revolution and march on ballot boxes to embrace a truly progressive policy agenda.  

However, it is important to caution that the progressive “revolution,” which Sanders is inspiring, will fall short of its potential if it does not clearly recognize and emphatically assert that “race matters” in this country; that because of structural racism, the ravishes of inequality and the exploitation and neglect of poor and working people disproportionately afflict Blacks and people of color. In a recent appearance on the Melissa Harris Perry Show on MSNBC Dr. Khalil G. Muhammad, the brilliant Director of the Schomburg Center in New York, was correct to point out that in the past progressives have often de-emphasized or ignored racial issues while emphasizing issues of class. Put another way, White progressive reformers have too often minimized racial concerns and remedies for fear of alienating Whites.

Black lives matter. Bernie Sanders would do well to address the issue of structural racism and its effects on Blacks and people of color head-on. Indeed, it would be useful if he took time to deliver a major address on race in American society and outline a comprehensive policy agenda for addressing racial issues, particularly as they effect Black and Brown people. And, on the question of his position on Reparations for Blacks for slavery and ongoing discrimination, Sanders should at least support HR-40, Congressman John Conyers bill that would authorize a Commission to study slavery and its aftermath and determine whether reparations are warranted. These steps would be major strides towards constructively bridging the race-class divide in order to advance an inclusive, unified revolution!

Will the Sanders’ inspired “revolution” dismantle America’s Capitalist political-economy? No, it will not. But, it will be a significant interim or transitional step forward advancing a politics of social transformation in this country. The “Bern” is encouraging millions of people to envision, to dream of a nation that is more humane than the indignities and injustices they suffer with the status-quo. In that regard, the Sanders’ campaign is already victorious! Millions of people are awake, seizing the moment to take matters into their own hands to contest the oligarchs, to battle Wall Street, proclaiming we are human beings, and we deserve to live with dignity and decency in this nation … //

… (full text).

(Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website Institute of the Black World and North Star News. His weekly radio show, Vantage Point, can be heard Mondays 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon on WBAI, 99.5 FM, Pacifica in New York or streaming live via WBAI.org. To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email).


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