It is easy to misconstrue Bernie Sanders’ new book It’s OK to be Angry About Capitalism as an angry rant, but unexpectedly it’s actually a move towards a hopeful future. Sanders looks at the choices he made during the 2020 election campaign and his fervour in dismantling an unjust system. The former Democratic presidential candidate argues that capitalism has failed to live up to its promises and that it is time for a new economic system that is more fair and equitable.
While he says that capitalism is rigged against ordinary people, he sees this as a time for a political revolution. He does not believe his unsuccessful bid for the nomination was a failure. Instead he said “we changed public consciousness”. He argues that despite his ideas being considered radical and fringe in the past, “today they are mainstream ideas, and many of them are already being implemented in cities and states across the country. That is what we have accomplished together.”
What does Bernie Sanders support?
The US senator from Vermont has long been seen as a revisionist politician, because he has advocated for policies that are more progressive than what is typically supported by mainstream politicians. Some of his key policy proposals include providing healthcare coverage for all Americans. He also believes education should be free for all as it's a right and not a privilege. Not to mention, he has championed a $15 minimum wage, arguing that workers should be paid a living wage that allows them to support themselves and their families. And Sanders is a vocal supporter of the Green New Deal, a package of policies aimed at addressing climate change and creating jobs in clean energy. These policy proposals generally tend to challenge the status quo, which is why they are popular among many Americans, particularly younger and more progressive voters.
Why did Bernie Sanders fail against Joe Biden?
At the end of the day, it was about stopping his controversial opposition former US President Trump, even if this meant conceding to current leader Joe Biden. The 81-year-old brings up historical references in connection to Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, in the midst of the terrible Civil War, Lincoln at Gettysburg stated that this government “of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The struggle Lincoln identified more than a century and a half ago is not finished. Sanders writes: “In our time, we must ensure the forces of liberty and justice will prevail.”
Sanders showcases himself as a patriot rather than a nationalist, as he talks about the need to change the system and even the Democratic Party itself. He asks why do Democrats have such a hard time delivering on the promise of transformational change? He talks about the constant need to put a band-aid on situations without trying to find a cure. This includes policies such as affordable childcare, free community college and social security. But he believes that this logjam is contributing to the party’s ineffectualness. He says it is time to look forward, “to present an agenda for upending uber-capitalism and point toward that North Star future where economic and social and racial justice are not just a promise but a reality.”
What are the big issues that Bernie Sanders thinks are important?
One of the biggest issues standing in the way is the existence of billionaires and oligarchs, according to Bernie Sanders’ new book. The Senator traces the history of capitalism and how it has evolved over time. What’s surprising is that he argues that capitalism was originally a system that was designed to promote economic growth and opportunity for all. President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration used a tax on the windfalls of the wealthy to prevent profiteering during World War II. Top tax rates could go as high as 90% on the excess profits of corporations, and 95% for wealthy individuals.
According to Sanders, “America thrived”. This is because “Unions were strong. Working-class Americans could afford to support themselves and buy homes on a single income. Inequality existed, but not like today”. He argues that over time, capitalism has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy individuals and corporations. This concentration of wealth has led to a number of problems, including income inequality, poverty, and environmental degradation.
Sanders then goes on to propose a number of reforms that he believes would make capitalism more fair and equitable. These reforms include raising the minimum wage, expanding access to healthcare and education, and investing in infrastructure. Sanders argues that these reforms would help to create a more just society where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
He quotes American socialist, trade unionist, and a founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World, Eugene Victor Debs. Debs said: “Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and fallen and bruised itself, and risen again […] But notwithstanding all this, and all these, it is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known.” What he showcases is another reality that is still possible, and not just possible, but an actuality at one point.
And Sanders is not the only one who is angry about capitalism. A growing number of people are waking up to the fact that the system is not working for them. They are demanding change. Sanders’s vision we see is not a utopian fantasy. It is a vision that is within our reach. We can apparently still create a better world, but it will take work. It will take a political revolution. This starts by education and adequately funding the system. He admits that while Finland’s progressive education system is vastly different to the US, there is no reason why the country can’t have the best schools, students and teachers in the world.
Bernie Sanders and the media
The media do not get off scot-free. Sanders believes the crisis in American media is not just about corporate control and the establishment’s hostility to those of us who are fighting for transformative change. It’s a money making machine. Hence the politician isn’t calling for the scrapping of the media machine, but actually, more funding towards responsible public media.
He highlights the Norwegian Media Authority, who has since 1969 provided subsidies to local print and online news to maintain competition. Awarded in proportion to a newspaper’s circulation and online appeal, these subsidies have not only maintained competing local newsrooms but fostered robust debate in some of the smallest Norwegian communities. For Sanders, having a well-funded, speak-truth-to-power news organisations will be critical in making the United States what it should be: a “full democracy.”
It is a powerful and persuasive book that argues for the need for a new economic system. At the end of the day, it’s about making bold moves which Sanders feels the Democratic Party has failed to showcase. In the meantime, check out the episode on political responsibility with Fear of Black Consciousness author Professor Lewis R. Gordon.