Bernie Sanders’s announcement speech was pretty much what longtime observers of the Vermont populist have come to expect from him: a staccato list of policy ideas that most in Washington think too radical to seriously discuss. In the space of a few paragraphs, Sanders endorsed breaking up the biggest banks and moving to a single payer health care system. He called for public funding of campaigns and vastly higher taxes on the rich. He proposed expanding Social Security, building a universal pre-K system, and taxing carbon.
These are big ideas, in every sense of the word: their costs would be huge, their implementation difficult, their consequences far-reaching. They are ideas worth debating and discussing, and they’re why Sanders is worth covering.
It’s true, of course, that Sanders is polling miles behind Hillary Clinton. But, particularly this early in the campaign, it’s not the media’s role to simply ratify the advantages of early name recognition and fundraising prowess; it’s our role to cover the ideas of the candidates, so voters know what their choices are.
With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, political commentators pronounced the death of socialism and the triumph of the United States. Amid the celebration, the ideological and military defeats in Southeast Asia less than two decades earlier were soon forgotten. Francis Fukuyama, one of the country’s most prominent political scientists, for example, wrote a nearly 500 page treatise that posited that the world had witnessed its political economic endpoint: liberal democratic capitalism.
The narrative seemed so accurate. It proclaimed: The United States triumphed. Democracy triumphed. Capitalism triumphed. The Soviet Union failed.
In the same year as the Soviet collapse, Bernie Sanders, an avowed democratic socialist, first sauntered into Washington as a congressional representative from Vermont.
Dorothy Prats / [email protected]