All tagged bernie sanders

liberalism and identity politics

On Friday Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States. Though it has been two months since the election in which he defeated sure-thing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, left-of-center Americans have had a hard time accommodating themselves to the new reality. Liberals, progressives and Democrats have been engaged in trying to explain Clinton's unprecedented failure. What this process of trying to understand the situation looks like, for the most part, is the various factions with the coalition pointing fingers at one another. The typical subject of this debate, such as it is, are two phenomena which are related but, in my view, often confused: national electoral strategy and the intrinsic value of various political and philosophical commitments. Untangling these two strands would go a long way toward clarifying what liberalism means in this Trumpian moment.

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Trump's cancelled rally: good for the left?

Yesterday, as I sure you have heard by now, Donald Trump cancelled his rally in Chicago. Thousands of people showed up to protest the rally, held on the campus of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). Many of them were UIC students and a large number were united by their support for Bernie Sanders. Sanders has denied any role in planning the demonstration, though the liberal activist group moveon.org has admitted to providing minimal support to what they say was most fundamentally a "student-led protest."

The New York Times reported that a Facebook page organizing the protest had 10,000 subscribers and that the arena in which the rally was to take place holds 9,500 people. Many of the protesters waited in line to get tickets to the rally, while others marched and demonstrated outside. Members of the pro- and anti-Trump camps repeatedly clashed, until a voice announced on the loudspeaker that the rally had been cancelled. “I felt it was just safer," explained Trump later. "I don’t want to see anybody get hurt.” The protesters were jubilant, while Trump's fans were angry.

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Yesterday Charles Koch published an op-ed in the Washington Post. Koch is the chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries, but he is better known as one of the "Koch brothers" who have committed their vast wealth to the project of placing very conservative politicians in elected office. By now, Koch certainly qualifies as a political figure and the fact that he has aired his views in the newspaper is not very unusual. What was surprising was the content of the views themselves. The major point of the piece was to emphasize the common ground that he shares with Bernie Sanders.

Though Koch acknowledges that he and Sanders "disagree on plenty when it comes to public policy," he claims to wish to underscore their common ground. "The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged," Koch correctly summarized. Sanders "thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field." On these points, Koch claims, "I agree with him."

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Bernie Sanders vies for the black vote

Our contemporary moment strikes me as the most interesting time to be a liberal since the late 1960s. Thanks to the 2008 financial crisis and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, issues relating to racial justice and economic inequality are front and center among Democrats for the first time in a generation or two. The current Democratic presidential race is highlighting the fissures among those who prioritize each of these issues, with the votes of African Americans shaping up to be the prize that determines who carries the day.

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