On this day in 1981, Bernie Sanders became Burlington’s first socialist mayor by a margin of just ten votes. Here’s a definitive history of how Bernie beat the political establishment with a working-class coalition behind him and how we can do the same today.
How he lost and where we go from here.
Four key figures in Bernie Sanders’s quest for the White House on what really happened.
There is overwhelming evidence a surge of mostly older, Trump-fearing voters decided the Democratic primary — and that Bernie Sanders failed to counter an establishment messaging campaign that Trump would beat him in a general election.
To many Americans, Bernie Sanders’s brand of socialism seemed to leap onto the national stage from out of nowhere. But in the postwar Jewish Brooklyn where he grew up, the socialist tradition and a veneration for the New Deal were central touchstones of mainstream politics.
Bernie Sanders lost in large part because we lacked the strong working-class and leftist institutions needed to defeat the establishment. Key to rebuilding those institutions is waging more class-struggle electoral campaigns and ramping up rank-and-file labor organizing.
Critics declaring Bernie Sanders’s campaigns a total failure have discounted a basic socialist proposition: our metric for his success should not just be his winning or losing, but the extent to which the working-class movement has advanced.
Five years ago, Bernie Sanders proclaimed on national television, “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.” If this was the one moment of note that emerged from both Sanders campaigns, all the time and money and effort still would have been worth it.
Bernie Sanders’s campaign was never about simply electing him — it was about a broader commitment to fighting for a better world in elections, workplaces, and the streets. For Students for Bernie alumni like me, the question isn’t whether we continue organizing, but how.
A reply to Angela Nagle and Michael Tracey.
We talked to Bernie Sanders foreign policy adviser Matt Duss about the internationalism that animated the Vermont senator’s 2020 campaign.
Some commentators have criticized Bernie Sanders for not going far enough on Palestine. But his denunciation of Israeli land grabs in the West Bank, plus his agenda for transformative policies at home, constituted the most meaningful challenge to the status quo of US-backed Israeli colonialism.
Bernie Sanders didn’t lose because of the “black vote,” but winning places like South Carolina is crucial to building a left majority.
Bernie Sanders is prepared to fight to win $2,000 survival checks for all. While Senate Democrats were prepared to do nothing to challenge Mitch McConnell, Sanders is pledging to filibuster a Pentagon veto override to provide real help for millions of Americans struggling to survive.
Joe Biden may have thrown in the towel on a $15 minimum wage, but Bernie Sanders has not. His recent Senate Budget Committee hearing on the country's biggest retailers' low wages was classic Sanders: a hard-nosed, commonsense message of class struggle.
Bernie Sanders is pushing a new proposal as part of the stimulus bill that would give everyone free health care during the pandemic. His plan would get us qualitatively closer to Medicare for All — and we should all rally behind it.
After Trump’s 2017 inauguration, the meme saturating our political discourse was neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting punched in the head. Today, it’s Bernie Sanders in mittens, dutifully but joylessly sitting through Biden’s inauguration. It’s a marker of our new political context: white nationalists thankfully don’t occupy the White House anymore, but nobody should cheer the neoliberal status quo.
For organizers in Central Pennsylvania, the Bernie Sanders campaign was an opportunity to build social-democratic politics in conservative territory. As Pennsylvanians go to the polls today, those organizers emphasize that Sanders’s unprecedented campaign was a success in putting left politics on the map in rural regions like theirs.
After Bernie Sanders, democratic socialists in America face a vital strategic dilemma. Do we go the Justice Democrats route of winning gains as the junior partner in a progressive coalition, or do we take a gamble on more independent class organization and struggle?
Joe Biden may indeed win in November. But he has run an inconsequential and pathetic campaign — one that could pose enormous dangers in the coming years.