Sanders political revolution against Trump’s Presidency is not limited on the concept of “resistance’ against his radical far-right policies, rather it was a collective political transformation to reimagine the U.S as country to be more egalitarian social democracy, that rejects corporate greed and extreme unequal society. Bernie Sanders ran the election campaign on the most progressive political agenda ever witnessed in the U.S political history.
On April 8 2020, Bernie Sanders dropped out from the democratic race for U.S President Election, scheduled for the upcoming November 2020. Since Bernie Sanders announced his plan to run for the upcoming U.S President Election, there has been a calculated attack from the right-wing political groups and centrist democratic party establishments. Sanders political revolution against Trump’s Presidency is not limited on the concept of “resistance’ against his radical far-right policies, rather it was a collective political transformation to reimagine the U.S as country to be more egalitarian social democracy, that rejects corporate greed and extreme unequal society. Bernie Sanders ran the election campaign on the most progressive political agenda ever witnessed in the U.S political history. He advocated for the free and universal healthcare system, free higher educational system, reform in the criminal justice system, wealth tax for the billionaires, radical green new deal to combat climate change and other progressive agendas. However, the cynical corporate media establishments [a1] along with centrist democratic establishment build a heavy rhetorical smear against the Bernie Sanders and ridiculed his political agenda’s as radical socialist programmes, which are unfeasible and unattainable.
Bernie Sanders in its initial democratic primaries were leading as front-runner as Democratic nominee for the President, but suffered a couple of setbacks in the subsequent primaries and caucus. These setbacks along with the outbreak of Covid-19 in the U.S.A brought a heavy comedown on the political campaign of Bernie Sander, finally decided to drop out of the Democratic race for U.S Presidential Election and subsequently endorsed Joe Biden. Makes no mistake, the Bernie Sanders decision to withdraw from the Presidential Election is a huge loss in the rising global movement against the Neoliberal Fascist Governments in world. In this article, the author attempts to argue, why Bernie Sander did know, how to combat the rising fascist governments and offered alternative paradigm for building a vision of a robust egalitarian society with strong commitment to human rights.
The Economic Inequality and Rise of Neo-Fascist Movements in the Western World
There is no one straight jacket answer for the rising neo-fascist authoritarian governments throughout the world. Many people argue that ‘existing under-hidden racial and religious prejudice’ ‘refugee crisis in Europe’ ‘increasing fear and security risk in the wake of rising terrorist attacks’ are some of the examples cited for the growing rise of fascist movements in the Western Countries. These issues were much reflected as reasons for the win of ‘Trump Election’ and ‘Brexit in U.K’ which are some of the signs, that depicts the extent of global rise of fascist movements. However, Bernie Sanders understands fundamental root cause of growing neo-fascist movements in the world. While, we discuss the different factors contributing to the increasing ethno-nationalist political movements, one of the fundamental reasons or philosophy has never been discussed i.e Neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism is a philosophy conceptualize that the political system and establishment shall be governed by the ‘free market’, with economization of political discourses, where political values are replaced by rationale cost/benefit economic models. Neoliberalism is not limited to a mere absence of government regulations, but rather entire State should be formulated in consonance with the corporate interest, which includes massive tax cuts for rich, crushing of trade unions and labour protections, deregulation, privatization of essential public services. Although neo-liberalism as concept was existed early as 1940’s, it become new international order after the Margret Thatcher (Prime Minister of U.K) and Ronald Reagen (President of U.S) in early 1980’s. Since then, for almost 40 years, neo-liberalism was considered as unquestionable ‘international order’.
However, the consequence of neo-liberal political order was the ever-increasing income inequality. There has been consistent increase in economic inequality between poor and rich, in all the western countries by the reason of neo-liberal policies. The massive tax cuts for the billionaires and large corporations along with heavy under funding of vital public services in healthcare, public education, public transportations have pushed hundred millions of people into extreme poverty and economic insecurity. For a very long time, these massive economic inequality and neo-liberal policies were supported by both sides of political parties pushing millions of lower incomes working class people into a poverty and resentment to political establishments. The far-right movements attempt to address this massive resentment of working class and channelize these resentments and target the racial and religious minorities, refugees, immigrants with extreme hatred and fear. In the U.S alone, the top 1 percent of the populations owns more than half of the national wealth and constitutes one of the most unequal country in the world. This case of massive economic inequality in U.S is not isolated cases, there is ever increase in growth of economic inequality in western countries. In India too, the 10 percent of the populations owns 77 percent of the total national wealth. Therefore, there is growing resentment and lost in trust among the low- income middle class and poor person against the political establishments.
Bernie Sanders Challenges Political Ideology of Neo-liberalism
Bernie Sanders understands this fundamental root of fascism which is being produced by ruins of the modern neo-liberal capitalistic society. Bernie’s political campaign attempts to address the political issues of low-income working class and challenge the neo-liberal political philosophy of the State. His movement is actively built on the progressive values and strong commitment to a more equal, fair and just societal order. The remarkable feature of Sanders is his willingness to challenge the ‘status quo’ of the neo-liberal State policies, and provide an alternative which is willing to take political cost to address this massive income inequality and economical insecurities of low-income working class and poor people. Unlike any other democratic candidate, including Joe Biden (Presumptive Democratic Nominee for U.S President), their political action is limited to reverse the trump policies and go back to the Obama era. However, Bernie Sanders refuses to conceptualize his political campaign on regaining the lost legacy of Obama, instead it provides a viable solution to long 40 years de-democratization of the U.S political system by the neo-liberal policies.
Further, Bernie Sanders acknowledges that the entire economic and political system is premised on neo-liberal order, there is no way a broken political order can be fixed by small changes and moderate legislations. Rather, Bernie Sanders understands that there is a need of political transformation on the role of Government over the welfare measures, and need to guarantee the basic social and economic rights such free and equal access to healthcare, increase social security, strong labour legislations etc.
The Creation of Broad Coalition of Multi-Racial and Multi-Generational to Defeat the Proto-Fascist Trump Era
Bernie Sanders campaign slogan “Fight for someone you don’t know” rightfully captures fundamental means to defeat the growing fascist political movements. The far-right totalitarian movement attempts to polarize the people on the basis of race, religions and other identities, with the purpose to break solidarity. Once the solidarity among the various disadvantaged minority groups is destroyed, it is easy for the right wing to create the structure of oppression. However, Sanders slogan is premised on building broadest possible coalition comprising of various racial minorities including African-American, Latinos, Arab-Muslims, South-Asian people, working class white people, young people to defeat the growing fascist regime of Trump in U.S.A. At the same time, the solidarity of various racial groups is not taken for granted, instead there is an active catering to the interest of the racial and other minorities. Although, the political movement didn’t manifest in the victory of Bernie Sanders to the power. Nevertheless, the Bernie Sanders political movement paves an ideal model for many countries, which can be inspired in the long movement and fight against the rising neo-fascist totalitarian movement in the world
Bernie Sanders Opposes the U.S Imperialist Foreign Policy and Replaced it with Unconditional Commitment to Human Rights
One of the most striking remark of his political campaign is the fierce and outright opposition to U.S.A imperialist foreign Policy. Most of the presidential nominees including Joe Biden is a strong supporter of the continuation of ‘status quo’ U.S foreign policy. In the post IInd World War Era, the U.S.A has increasingly engaged in many armed conflicts with different countries. The imperialism foreign policy ranges from the U.S support right wing armed groups to overthrow the democratically elected governments in Latin America to the disastrous Middle East wars conducted in post-cold war era. Unlike any other democratic or republic nominee, the Bernie Sanders has consistent history on being critical about the U.S imperialist foreign policies. Bernie Sanders is a few mainstream political leaders that have waged lonely moral and political fight against the U.S wars in the Middle East Countries. Bernie Sanders have opposed and voted against the U.S Invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S armed involvement in the Libyan Crisis in 2011. Apart from these, the Sanders led the bipartisan group of senators in ending U.S aid and support to Saudi Arabia in the war against Yemen, which is considered to be one of the worst humanitarian disaster.
More importantly, Bernie Sanders has unconditionally affirmed that the U.S foreign policy shall be guided on the human rights principles. For a very long time, U.S.A had strong allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, which have a very worst records on the human rights protections. Yet, these authoritarian states have escaped the international scrutiny with the support of U.S.A. However, Bernie Sanders places a diametrically opposite position and places human rights as a central pillar in the foreign policy. This would have created unprecedented impact in the international order, which would eventually result in a stronger international compliance of basic human rights and freedoms.
Bernie Sanders political revolution on foreign policy does not end there, he is an ardent supporter of Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Unlike the previous U.S presidents, who were strategically aligned and defended Israeli political interest in the conflict, where the Palestine people interest were viewed strictly through security prism of Israel, nonetheless Bernie Sanders stands exception in this category. Sanders is a proud Jew and at the same time, is a fierce critic of Israeli oppression and military occupation of the Palestine people. This could have brought some changes and accountability for the systematic and continuous human rights abuses in Occupied Territories of Palestine by the Israel
Sanders decision to drop from the Presidential Election returns to the ‘status quo’ foreign policy of the U.S.A, which continuously defends the allies and authoritarian government, with a past record of violating the values of human rights. Wherein, the human rights values are traded economic interest of the U.S.
I always had hope that Bernie Sanders would become the President of U.S.A. It might be of astonishment why do an Indian Muslim like me, working as lawyer in Delhi would be hoping for Bernie Sanders. The only answer is Bernie Sander as the President of U.S would have posed a larger international pressure and accountability of Indian State, for its violation of human rights obligations, especially in the context of increasing discrimination against the Indian Muslim minorities and also against India’s military occupation in the Indian-Administrated Kashmir. Further, in the midst of this rise of right wing fascist totalitarian movement across the world, he had became a beckoning hope to fight against the fascist governments. Bernie Sanders is among the few political leaders, that are willing to take political cost to fight and advocate for the marginalized community and had the political will to show the darker sides of neo-liberal corporate society.
The history made us bear witness of his unconditional and unwavering commitment to human rights and strong opposition to U.S military campaigns. He had fought some lonely fights and at last he built a political movement to give voice to the disfranchised people in the political spectrum. Even though, he has decided to drop from the Presidential Elections, his political movement continues and the slogan of “Fight for someone you don’t know’ still resonates in the street from India to U.S, in their fight against the fascist authoritarian regimes.