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What One Historian Wishes Bernie Sanders Said About Being a Socialist


What One Historian Wishes Bernie Sanders Said About Being a Socialist

Bernard Weisberger

Tuesday night’s first gotcha question from Anderson Cooper about whether the American people would ever elect a socialist to office was one that Bernie Sanders was no doubt expecting. Progressive historian and BillMoyers.com contributor Bernard Weisberger didn’t think his answer was altogether bad (watch below), but he took time to write out the response he wishes the other Bernie had given. He also included a response to Hillary Clinton’s later statement about how “Denmark wasn’t the United States.”


After viewing the debate, I came away with the impression that Sanders doesn't really want to be president. He is all about issues and moving public opinion - that seems to be what he means by a political revolution. And this is why he doesn't even bother to answer personal attacks, and why he dismisses Clinton's vulnerability on the emails. He 's not going to be diverted into explaining why he "went to Russia for his honeymoon" when he has a national stage where he can keep hammering at the system which creates massive inequality and is destroying the planet's climate. Clearly, he has already moved the Democratic Party leftward. Cynics may say that effect will vanish after November 2016 but my hope is that the progressive policies he advocates will not go away that easily once people are given a new sense of what is really possible.

Sanders has a clear mission and he is doing it with great effectiveness. And when he steps aside to support Mrs. Clinton, he will probably be relieved not to face the prospect of actually governing. That does not mean that I will not support him as long as he is in the race, but neither will I be angry or shocked when he eventually supports Hillary Clinton.


Evolution of the 'common kitty ' - feed the kitty, learn to monitor the 'canaries in the goldmine', share justice, abundance and peace


My suggested answer to this question is that the roles of "socialist" and "politician" do not, and can not, entirely coincide. It could be that the ideological purity that you seem to demand will limit you to candidates who are "imaginary friends."


Exactly. Sanders is the kind of faux-socialist whose presidency the Pentagon will allow so long as he remains their faithful lapdog, as his strenuous support of the trillion dollar F-35 boondoggle and other military wastefulness clearly shows.

Liberals fall for the Trojan Horse every time.


Enough with the 'ideological purity' straw man.

Wanting a president who isn't going to let the Pentagon burn, rape, pillage and murder half the world is not ideological purity. It's about still giving a damn about basic morality, something the Democrats left behind a long, long time ago.

Abandoning basic moral principles just so we can experience the awesomeness of a Democrat destroying the world instead of having to watch a Republican do it is of no value.

A review of Sanders' record shows that under the best case scenario he will be another Obama. Screw that.


So you think that criticism of a presidential candidate who will continue killing people in other lands - including bombing hospitals, arbitrary drone bombings, and other crimes against humanity; continue to generously supporting thugs who murder, occupy and oppress and continues to maintain a constellation of bases costing more than the $600 billion (plus unknown "black budget" amounts) - an amount more than the military budgets of China, Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, UK and France combined - is "ideological purity" and unrealistic?

My, how the commenting community at Commondreams has fallen. Have the last 8 years not taught you anything?


Not the impression I got, especially when he mentioned, several times, the many debate-watching parties throughout the country. That sounded to me like a candidate who is building a grassroots network for a "serious" effort.


Gosh, I hope it will not turn out that I have learned nothing. I will say this, though: The last eight years have not taught me to impute Obama's misdeeds to Bernie.


Thanks for that oldgoat!!


If Sanders accomplishes his most important goal, to remove corporate control from our government, the imperialist ventures of the United States would begin to wind down immediately. It is just common sense. Americans won't vote to have the military budget increased at the expense of universal healthcare and free education. Americans won't vote to increase the taxes on the middle class while giving subsidies to the rich. Americans won't vote for an end to welfare for our most vulnerable while increasing welfare for the 1%. Right now all of those things don't happen simply because Americans have no control over the government. Eliminate the billionaire class from politics and you will bury the MIC.


He has not announced any clear break from them, he has even stated he will continue Obama' drone warfare.

He could have at least taken a minute of his time stating his condemnation of the MSF hospital attack.

Obama has, in many or even most respects, been worse than Bush. So much for lesser-evilism. I recommend that you take a look at real socialist Jeremy Corbyn's success at sticking to his principles. Socialism is first-and-foremost internationalist and anti-imperialist. And no, the British electorate are not wild leftists.


I must have missed the press release where Sanders explained that his secret plan was to destroy the corporations and then take on the wild dogs of the Pentagon. Could you please post a link to the transcript because that is prolly an awesome speech.


I had to go look up "straw man." (You OK with Wikipedia?) It appears that my contention does not match that definition. In fact, it appears that your "straw man" attribution is a closer match.

Even more of a "straw man." You seem to impute a desire to do those things both to Bernie and to me. I submit that you are wrong in each instance.

Well, I'm with you here. I've been on both sides of this business, as a victim of Democratic bait and switches by Clinton and Obama, and as a Green fighting for Nader in 2000. I haven't self-identified as a Democrat since 1996.

I seem to have laid myself open to your scorn by accepting that Bernie might possibly be something of a departure from the "corporate Democrat" status quo. So be it. I can't help thinking, though, that the venom indicates a heart that might just be "three sizes too small."

I will tell you this: I looked for that "basic morality," the absence of which you decry in the Democrats, in the Greens, and I sure didn't find it there, either.

At the risk of revealing myself to be an uninformed bumpkin, "What you talkin bout, Willis?


Where did he state that? I would appreciate links to assertions like that.

I would further submit that, even were he so inclined, I would like the chances of a concerted push from the left changing his mind better than that of anyone else I - or you - can name who is likely to be in that position.

I agree with that. You will have noticed, though, that their time was pretty tightly structured, and other ideas were flying at them from all directions. Frankly, I can't imagine what the pressure must be like in that situation.

There's that straw man again. Please be assured that I neither endorse, nor plan to vote for, Obama next year.

I'm sure I would vote for him if I lived there. I'm not well-informed about parliamentary government, but I think it sounds like a more "representative" model. Back in 2000 we worked hard to promote IRV, which would improve things here, IMO, but we didn't get very far with it...


I like your first paragraph; but I dispute your certainty as per the second one.


Instead of castigating Liberals... what exactly are YOU doing to actualize a candidate who would represent your purer Leftist interests? Generally, it's when absolute demands are made coming from the self-defined Left, that the virtual impossibility of those demands makes it possible (if not inevitable) for extreme right wingers to take control of more and more facets of the government-military-media-corporate machine.


Bull-shit yourself.

Due to your own rigidity and presumption that the recent past is going to play out as the inevitable future, YOU limit possibilities here.

First of all, the historical pattern is such that when elites tie the restraints too tight and claim too much of the collective pie for themselves, that in lieu of all-out work stoppages and/or revolution, they make concessions.

Mr. Sanders may be today's "New Deal" accommodation between the 1% and the profits they've recently reaped from the fiscal collapse that they engineered... and the angry masses.

Also, Sanders did not vote for the Iraqi war and he is not a CIA "asset." Unlike Obama, he's rough-hewn not groomed like the elites' favorite to act as THEIR puppet.

You make a lot of assumptions and all of them reflect a rigid, bifurcated thought process... it's the type of thought process suited to Conservatives. Put that into your "ideological purity pipe and smoke it."

(Are you another one of Erroll's screen names, perchance? Sounds like it.)


Concentrating wealth kills socialism, concentrating power kills capitalism. Puppet politicians can't fix this. They make the problems worse unless they're fettered by our votes.

It could take years of voting for the lesser evil to lessen the evil and undo years of oligarchy voter suppression.


For those who are even remotely interested on learning why Senator Sanders is not a real (democratic) socialist, I recommend reading the article published today titled Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party and Socialism.