by Drew Povey
Bernie Sanders is not a name that is heard often on the international news. But, as a Presidential candidate for the US Democratic Party, he currently has more public support than the maverick and racist Republican contender Donald Trump. And he describes himself as a socialist.
Bernie may not eventually win the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton – she is currently on 55%, against Bernie’s 31% – but he is gaining a surprising amount of support.
This is because of the increasing level of inequality in the US and the end of the American dream – that anyone can succeed. The real value of average salaries has not increased since 1973. The richest 0.1% own as much as the poorest 90% of the population. One family, the Waltons who own Walmart, are worth as much as 40% of the population.
As Bernie says, “The reality is that, since the mid-1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country. That is the Robin Hood principle in reverse. That is unacceptable and that has got to change…There is something profoundly wrong when we have a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans work longer hours for lower wages and we have the highest childhood poverty rate of any developed country on earth.”
Bernie appears to be breaking the hold of the rich on politics in the US as he has received financial support from over two million Americans. He sees the way forward through mass support and argues that, “If you are talking to 10, 15% of the voters, that’s a lot. They have uncles, aunts and brothers and sisters and so forth”.
But this is still an uphill struggle as the media owners do not cover Bernie’s campaign. Despite the fact he has more support than Donald Trump, he is getting less than one percent of Trump’s media coverage.
“The greed of corporate America and Wall Street is destroying the economy of the United States” he says. “These guys have got to be confronted. We need changes in the power structure of America, politically and economically, and that’s what we are doing.”
But it is not just in the US, across Europe politicians who are standing against neoliberalism and inequality are gaining mass support. In Greece, Syriza won two general elections in 2015, in opposition to austerity. In Spain, Podemos gained a significant showing in the General Election in December and will be key to the formation of the next government. In Britain, the radical socialist, Jeremy Corbyn, was elected leader of the Labour Party.
This development reflects growing mass disenchantment with the system of the bosses. But, it is also a mood being tapped into by populist parties that present radical right wing alternatives such as ultra-nationalism and xenophobia. The need for publicising socialist ideas is more crucial today than ever before, to challenge such retrogressive ideas, within the ranks of working class-people.
It is also essential that we must not have illusions that individuals as socialists will change the system as leaders. The overthrow of capitalism and building a socialist society in the United States and globally can be won only through working class-people’s revolutions from below. The Sander’s moment however might present an opening for popularising revolutionary ideas and organisation, with which the 99% can rout the 1% of exploiters.