Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP)

Attendees at Bernie Sanders’ largest rally in Portland, Ore., seemed “to understand Sanders’s socialism as a way to reintroduce a simple modicum of humanity into an economic system that has no real cushion [for] those who suffer ill health or simple bad luck,” writes Guardian correspondent Jason Wilson.

“For these voters,” Wilson continues, “it’s also important that Sanders has hewn closely to a few stated principles for a very long time – a rare quality.” One man described Sanders as the only candidate who “puts the people first.”

What makes Sanders’s socialist candidacy so remarkable is that it’s been decades since the term has functioned as anything other than abuse. Perhaps bravely, Sanders still takes pride in that political label, and repeated in interviews last week that he is a “democratic socialist”.

Judging him by his stated policies and public positions, socialism Sanders-style has a mild, Nordic flavor: capitalism will go on on but with more stringent regulation, higher taxes will be introduced, and greater responsiveness to democratically elected governments will be sought. His 12-point plan envisions building infrastructure, ensuring equal pay for women, making it easier to create worker cooperatives, introducing a carbon tax and reducing the cost of college. …

… [C]runchy Portland is deep in Sanders’s heartland. Nevertheless, it was notable that no one I talked to had the least misgivings about Sanders calling himself a socialist; almost all were happy to identify with the term. Few were doctrinaire, many differed in the details of what socialism actually means, but almost all were attracted to Sanders as someone whose policies might alleviate the everyday suffering of those not part of the country’s tiny wealthy elite.

Blake and Chris attended together after a campaign donation put them on the email list. They’re not full-time activists, but they’re “engaged as citizens”. Blake agrees that the word “socialist” has become a dirty word in the public sphere. But for him, it’s [socialism] just a synonym for a range of policies that are simply humane. These include “improving educational outcomes for people. Not making people so dependent on student loans. Lifting up the middle class as well as those who are not the 1%. The fact that people brand that as socialism and therefore a bad thing is ludicrous.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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