Why Bernie Sanders Matters
A Nation Will Not Survive Morally or Economically
When So Few Have So Much and So Many Have So Little
by Harry Jaffe
Book Review by Kam Williams
“What is the source of Bernie Sanders’ appeal? How did he become a socialist? How did he develop his ability to excite crowds? How can he make an audience forget that he talks like a deli guy and sometimes looks like a rumpled old man ranting about rich people?
He first started talking about the gap between rich and poor in America and the disappearing middle class in 1970, 45 years before he announced his White House bid. He was considered an anomaly and ignored.
Most politicians would have changed course at that point… Not Bernie. Every speech, every appearance, he hammered away on the economic and political forces that were killing America’s middle class.
He did it when it was out of fashion, when Republican conservatives scoffed at him, and when the Democrats dismissed him. Now income inequality and saving the middle class are the economic issues of the day.
That’s only one of the reasons [why] Bernie Sanders matters.”
— Excerpted from the Introduction (pages xi-xiii)
A low point in Senator Berrnie Sanders’ presidential campaign arrived last summer in Seattle when a couple of sisters representing the Black Lives Matter movement stormed the stage and snatched the microphone away from him before he even had a chance to speak. The 74 year-old Senator from Vermont ended up leaving the event without addressing the crowd.
Today, Bernie is giving his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton a run for the money, but still isn’t getting much respect from the African-American community. After all, the Congressional Black Caucus recently endorsed his opponent, including Representative John Lewis (D-GA), who specifically questioned the veracity of Sanders’ civil rights credentials.
Nevertheless, the truth ought to matter, and if you prefer to decide who to back based on the facts, you might like to check out Why Bernie Sanders Matters, a fascinating biography of the inveterate socialist running for the Democratic nomination.
This informative book was written by Harry Jaffe, editor-at-large at Washingtonian Magazine. Earlier in his career,
the reporter served as Press Secretary to Patrick Leahy, Vermont’s senior Senator, which means the author has close ties to the state Bernie represents.
Jaffe traces the arc of Bernie’s life, starting with his working-class Jewish roots in Brooklyn where he was first exposed to socialist ideas. We learn that he had his consciousness raised at an early age, having been influenced by the untimely demise of his parents as well as the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the Fifties.
While attending the University of Chicago in the Sixties, he became a student organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality. In that capacity, he participated in the very first sit-in in the history of the Windy City, a protest of the school’s segregated housing policy.
Bernie has remained committed to progressive politics ever since, whether demonstrating against the Vietnam War, railing about income inequality or calling for universal healthcare. A longtime advocate for radical change who has never flip-flopped on the issues.
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