Monday, June 22, 2015

The revolution is not coming (not this week)

By Richard Barry

Tell me Bernie-mania isn't fun. Yes, in Colorado over the weekend Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders tore it up with a crowd of nearly 5,000 in Denver, his largest since announcing for the Democratic nomination in May.

Breathing a progressive political fire, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ignited Colorado supporters with a blistering condemnation of billionaires and corporations.

The 73-year-old Independent spoke for an hour and hit a nerve on economic issues as he advocated for an end to income inequality as well as a higher minimum wage, pay equity for women and more government spending on infrastructure.

"What we are doing tonight is we are sending a message to the billionaire class and that is: You can't have it all!" Sanders said, shouting to a crowd that filled a University of Denver gymnasium and spilled onto a nearby lacrosse field. "The unquenchable greed of the billionaire class is destroying this nation and it has got to end."

Combine this with other stories out this weekend that, according to new polling data, there is a significant increase in the number of Americans who describe themselves as liberal and the number of Americans taking liberal positions on the issues.

Since the 1988 presidential campaign, when George H.W. Bush and Lee Atwater turned “Massachusetts liberal” into an epithet, the label has been tainted — so much so that many liberals abandoned it for “progressive.”

But new polling shows a significant increase in the number of Americans who describe themselves as liberal and the number of Americans taking liberal positions on issues. Gallup has found the percentage of Americans calling themselves social liberals has equaled the percentage of social conservatives for the first time since pollsters began asking the question in 1999 (when 39 percent identified as conservative and 21 percent as liberal). Democrats are more likely to call themselves liberal and Republicans are less likely to embrace the “conservative” description, opting instead for moderate.

I would caution my brothers and sisters on the left not to get too excited in the short term because we have a long way to go before a progressive like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren can win the Democratic presidential nomination or the presidency itself. But trends are everything in politics and, for many of us, this is a good one.

My sense has long been that the tea party movement is a response built on fear based on the diminishing stature of the U.S. in the world and potentially lower standards of living at home and the kind of selfishness that can accompany that fear.

My hope is that the recent rise of liberal sentiment is based on a growing understanding that if we are to survive intact we have to learn to share what we have, which means, horror of horrors, we have to talk about how best to redistribute the wealth.

It won't happen overnight, especially in terns of electoral success,  but it's a good trend.

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  • I don't know if you've seen Dana Milbank's new column, but it is like many that I've seen popping up that "warn" the Democrats not to create a left wing Tea Party. This is, of course, part of a long tradition of pundits telling Democrats that they must "moderate" -- a synonym for "move to the right." But the concern about a left wing Tea Party is just stupid.

    To start, a liberal movement inside a Democratic Party that has moved (on economic issues) way too far to the right is a good thing. It is nothing like a conservative movement that is pushing an already too conservative Republican Party rightward.

    But the other thing is that I didn't have that big a problem with the Tea Party at first. It was only after a very short period of time that it was clear that all its economic complaints were just a feint and that what it most stood for was abortion absolutism. It also wasn't a real movement. Without the Koch brothers paying for events and Fox News marketing them, there would have been no Tea Party.

    I've long argued that the way to moderate American politics is for the Democratic Party to move to the left. All the party's moves to the right have only ended in the Republicans moving even further right to distinguish themselves from the Democrats.

    People like Dana Milbank are idiots. And yes, Bernie-mania is very fun. Keep on rockin' in the free world!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:14 PM  

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