Is Sen. Bernie Sanders a Marxist?

In my opinion, Senator Bernie Sanders uses Marxist sociological theory in his political activism. Does this make him a Marxist? I don’t believe it does. While Bernie uses Marxist theory in his political activism, I don’t think he is a Marxist. Instead, he uses the theory to better understand the world and the conflict between the rich and poor. Therefore, what is Marxism? It is a sociological analysis of class relations and social conflict.

History of Bernie Sanders

bernie_2Bernie’s story began in Brooklyn, New York where he attended high school and later college before he transferred to the University of Chicago. Within Bernie’s first year at the University of Chicago, a scandal erupted when an interracial group of students uncovered the systematic housing discrimination at the university-owned apartment buildings. At the time, Bernie was a chapter leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (which organized the Freedom Rides) and launched sit-ins at the office of the university’s president to end the policy. After 15 days, a compromise with the administration was reached.

This was Bernie’s first experience with class conflict. In this case, socially constructed classes were forced against each other. the classes included white students with the privilege of being able to live in the apartments, the people of color who were not, and the property owner (the University, with the most power). In this situation, Bernie chooses to be a participant and take direct action or revolt against the property owners (bourgeoisie).

Additionally, Bernie has been politically active since college. He witnessed racial and economic inequality which pushed him to find answers. Bernie used his passion for justice and equality to become Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He did this while even self-describing himself as a “socialist.” He also was elected to the U.S. House and then U.S. Senate in 2007. Bernie has become the longest-serving independent politician in Congress.

Inequality and Exploitation

Bernie has proved that throughout his life, he has been fighting for the working class and against the exploitation of the workers. He has done this through his work as Mayor of Burlington, Congressperson, and Senator. He has been talking about income inequality and injustice, and his message hasn’t wavered. He understands the struggles of the poor and the working class, including the origins of injustice and inequality. Therefore, I believe that Bernie uses Marxist theory to help him understand these complex inequalities.

Thus, during Bernie’s political life and campaigns he has shown that he does indeed see the problems of capitalism. This is evident in his work and his messaging during his campaigns. More on this later.

Bernie’s Understanding of Marxist Theory

During the Democratic primary for president, Bernie called out the bourgeoisie for their growing power over the government. “We are living in an increasingly undemocratic society in which decisions are made by people who have huge sums of money,” said Sen. Sanders (Kruse). I believe that what Bernie is saying here is similar to the same idea that Marx had about capitalism and its control over the government. And this is what both Sanders and Marx were getting at. “It has agglomerated population, centralized means of production, and concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralization” (Marx in Calhoun 2012, p. 159).

Furthermore, Bernie calls for a political revolution. “I am talking about bringing in the voices of millions who have given up on the political process,” said sen. Sanders (Johnson). He works for this because he understands that the only way for the proletariat to gain equality in all forms of life is to acquire political supremacy. This is an idea that many revolutionaries get from Marx. “Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of word” (Marx in Calhoun 2012, p.169).

He also calls out the exploitation of the work who works longer hours for low wages even though technology has made productivity increase. “Do you think it’s right that despite an explosion of technology and an increase in worker productivity, the average worker is working longer hours for low wage?” said Sen. Sanders (Kruse). This is another point that shows his influences by Marx where he believes that as productivity increases so should pay.

“Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of monetary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce” (Marx in Calhoun 2012, p. 160). This quote from Marx is talking about where we are at today. It is talking about why we have so many poor. It is because of the phenomenon in capitalism where people must work to live, and their lives revolve around work, where prices continue to go up, and profits for the wealthy continue to rise, but wages are stagnating.

Marx saw this then and Bernie sees it now. “Is it right that the middle class continues to disappear while there has been a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the top one-tenth of 1 percent? Trillions of dollars in the last 30 years have flowed from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, ” said Sen. Sanders (Kruse).

Summary

Is Bernie Sanders a Marxist? No, he is not. However, he is influenced by Marxist theory in a way that helps him understand the world and the exploitive effects of capitalism. He uses class conflict in his campaigns where he explains how the working class’s interests are inherently different from that of the top 1 percent to mobilize millions of people to stand up and get involved in the political process to create the change that they seek.

Works Cited

Kruse, Michael. “14 things Bernie Sanders has said about socialism” politico.com. POLITICO, 17 Aug. 2015 Web. 9 Oct. 2016.

Johnson, Dav. “Sanders’ Socialism Speech: America is For All of Us, Not just Wealthy” ourfuture.org. Campaign for Ameria’s Future, 19 Nov. 2015 Web. 9 Oct 2016.

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Voting for Hillary

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the Des Moines Youth Summit, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, at Creative Visions in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the Des Moines Youth Summit, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, at Creative Visions in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

After nearly 29 million Americans voted in the Democratic primaries and the 13 million who voted for Senator Bernie Sanders we have a presumptive nominee for President, Hillary Clinton.

Senator Sanders won primaries and caucuses in 22 states with almost 1,900 delegates. Hillary Clinton will go into the convention with 389 more pledged delegates and many more superdelegates.

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As a Bernie Sanders volunteer and former staffer it was an honor to work for the Senator, and the political revolution. Together, we began a revolution to transform American politics and that revolution continues into the Democratic National Convention and beyond.

Untitl36edWe fought and continue to fight for a government that works and represents us all, not just the one percent. We fought and are fighting to change our Party to make it more progressive, inclusive, and welcoming.

Yes, Bernie Sanders did not win the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, nonetheless, we made progress in working with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to produce the most progressive platform in the history of the Party.

hillary-clinton-01-800Now, our job is to ensure the platform is implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, and a Hillary Clinton president.

We have an opportunity to come together as a Party and work toward victory over hate and divisiveness. I cannot stress enough that this election is one of the most important elections of our and perhaps my lifetime. There is so much at stake with a Donald Trump president.

The time to come together is now.

As Democrats, we believe that we are stronger together, when we work together to get things done, and fight together to win elections.

As Bernie Sanders said during his endorsement of Hillary Clinton,

This election must be about bringing our people together, not dividing us up. While Donald Trump is busy insulting Mexicans, Muslims, woman, African Americans, and veterans, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.

If you think that this election is not important just take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump will nominate, what that will mean to our civil liberties, equal rights, and health care access.

This election has been about the issues and it continues to be about them. Bernie campaigned for universal health care. Now, as Bernie said,

Hillary Clinton wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their health care exchange, which will lower the cost of health care.

But what is Donald Trump’s position? Well, he wants to do the same thing that every other Republican in Congress wants, to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and throw 20 million people off their health insurance. He also wants to cut Medicaid.

The last thing we need today in America is a president who doesn’t care about whether millions will lose access to the health care coverage that they desperately need. We need more people with access to quality health care, not fewer – Bernie Sanders

I have many disagreements with Hillary Clinton and now I disagree with her choice for Vice-President. Nevertheless, I am supporting Hillary Clinton for president. I hope that you will too because we cannot let there be a chance of a Donald Trump president.

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Source: The Hill

I lost, But We Won

13466522_10100253676015059_8234610603933303786_nI lost my campaign for Democratic National Committee (DNC) member. But we won at the Iowa State Convention. We even won in California, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Washington at their State Conventions.

Thank you everyone who volunteered for me and donated money to me. You really did help me get many votes at the convention. Thank you! It was a lot of work.

I am proud to say that my campaign stayed positive and never spoke negatively towards my opponent, we never called up delegates to spread negative messages.

While I campaigned I spoke about who I am and what I planned to do. I spoke about my values. I am proud to have run a positive campaign for the DNC.

Our convention was as usual dramatic and drawn out. It was about a 19-hour event that began at 9am and ended around 3am.

During this exciting and dramatic convention, we won more seats on the State Central Committee, we held our national delegate count, and had many victories on the platform.

  • Calling for single-payer health care
  • Support of the death with dignity act
  • Protecting LGBTQIA elders against discrimination
  • Support of insurance coverage for transgender related healthcare
  • Support of equal human rights for Palestinians and Israelis
  • Support of Palestinian statehood/UN membership
  • Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Opposition to fast-tracking trade agreements
  • Support of tuition-free state colleges/universities
  • Calling for 100% renewable energy by the year 2025

576601cf42050.imageFollowing four separate votes the convention decided to abolish superdelegates. The last vote was round midnight when a petition was submitted to remove the superdelegates plank to make the platform silent on the issue. However, this was another win for us when the motion failed on a voice vote.

In California, the State Democratic Convention called for the elimination of caucuses and most superdelegates.

The convention passed a resolution that takes away the voting status of Democratic governors and members of Congress. However members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would remain superdelegates and be tied to the vote of their constituency.

At the Missouri State Democratic Convention, more Bernie Sanders delegates showed up than Hillary Clinton delegates. Making Missouri another Bernie state. Bernie had 681 state delegates which equals 37 pledged national delegates and Hillary had 644 state delegates which equals 34 pledged national delegates.

Texas Democratic delegates wave signs as the party's state convention wraps up the final day with a breakfast tribute to Lady Bird Johnson, voting on platforms and resolutions and declaring national delegates on Saturday, June 18, 2016. Factions of the delegates were still proponents of Bernie Sanders despite the majority of the group supporting Hillary Clinton. (Kin Man Hui/San Antonio Express-News)
Texas Democratic delegates wave signs as the party’s state convention wraps up the final day, voting on platforms and resolutions and declaring national delegates on Saturday, June 18, 2016. (Kin Man Hui/San Antonio Express-News)

Progressives and Bernie delegates adopted a platform that reflects Bernie Sanders’ message at the Texas State Democratic Convention.

  • Banned lobbyists from becoming superdelegates
  • Limited the number of superdelegates to no more than 10% of the total number of delegates
  • Adopted a resolution to make the minimum wage $15 for non-tipped jobs, and to make tipped jobs start at $7.25 per hour.

10812111_GNebraska’s State Democratic Convention went a bit further with voting to abolish superdelegates to electing an anti-pipeline activist and Bernie Sanders supporter as the Party’s State chairwoman.

They even approved a resolution that calls on superdelegates to base their votes at the Democratic National Convention on the results of Nebraska’s March 5th presidential caucus.

In Washington, the Democratic Convention voted to officially endorse Bernie Sanders.

Sources:

Join the Revolution & Elect Tom Fiegen to the U.S. Senate

Source: Tom Fiegen for U.S. Senate
Source: Tom Fiegen for U.S. Senate
I am supporting Tom Fiegen for U.S. Senate to represent Iowa and unseat incumbent Republican Senator Chuck Grassley!

Tom is a former Iowa State Senator and Democratic Caucus Chair in the precinct of Clarence, Iowa, and bankruptcy lawyer. Tom has taught economics at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa for 10 years.

Tom Fiegen is running for U.S. Senate because he wants to restore and protect the working class from billionaire special interests, overturn Citizens United, protect our environment, and make college affordable. He also wants to protect and expand the grown-local farm movement and move away from GMO/Chemical mono industrial agriculture. Tom is a champion of labor unions, he has fought for a living wage, and creating the opportunity for workers to form unions (Fiegen)

1443062598Tom Fiegen on the issues:

  • Wall Street Reform –
    • Re-enact Glass Steagall and break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions.
    • The Federal Reserve, must eliminate its internal conflicts of interest, provide stricter oversight, and insist that the banks its support serve the economy in a way that works for everyone not just a few.

I want to fix the bribery of politicians in the guise of campaign contributions. […] People throw around the reference to Citizens United, but the problem is much more systemic and ingrained than that. – Tom Fiegen (Sainato)

  • Climate Change –
    • We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels, and towards energy efficiency and sustainability.
    • Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized and we need to accelerate technological progress in wind and solar power generation.
  • Student Debt –
    • We need to make higher education free to every qualified student and we need to refinance, reform, and reduce the loan burden to people who have already graduated.

  • Prescription Drug Cost –
    • Medicare and Medicaid needs to be able to negotiate for lower drug prices.
    • We need transparency on the cost to develop new drugs.
  • Small-Farm Revolution –
    • Institutions like schools, hospitals, and universities need to locally source their food.
    • Shift from supporting GMO/Chemical mono industrial agriculture to supporting/promoting/subsidizing local healthy fresh sustainable food production.
All issues information from: WWW.FIEGENFORUSSENATE.COM 

CSIOSc2UcAAdyxyTom Fiegen is the only U.S. Senate candidate in Iowa that has formally endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States of America. Tom showed his support for Senator Bernie Sanders at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner, in his introduction of 150 words however according to Tom Fiegen his declaration of support for Sen. Sanders was removed (Sainato).

Around the stage they [Iowa Democratic Party] had tables for dinners that were $1000 a plate. The outer ring, where I was, had tables for $120 a plate. For people and students who could afford [to sit] there, they [Iowa Democratic Part] sold them bleacher seats for $50 a ticket. […] The thing that insulted me with the people on the bleachers, is they put up barricades so those people couldn’t mingle with the people at the tables. It gave very much the impression that they were second class citizens. – Tom Fiegen

Therefore, when Tom took the stage he was holding a Bernie sign and wearing a Bernie sticker, his announcement like this led to an uproar and standing ovation from the hall.

I wanted to communicate to the party machine people and the people at the $1000-a-plate tables that Senator Sanders’ campaign is a political revolution, that I am part of that revolution, and we intend to remake not only our party, but our democracy and our country, and that there are more of us than them. – Tom Fiegen

Join me in supporting Tom Fiegen as he runs for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate and elect him to help Sen. Sanders in the White House!

Go here to volunteer or donate to his campaign!

Just say NO to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Weisma).

what_is_tppThe trade agreement is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s economic agenda for his second term in office. The agreement faces tremendous criticism from many Democrats and progressives. Collectively, they claim that this deal would be damaging to U.S. sovereignty, that it expands the ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement), and it adds new substantive rights to foreign companies and investors. All of which many say would hurt the U.S. economy, damage the environment, roll-back human rights, and destroy privacy.

LNG_Terminal_5_tpp_meme_2-01_copyThe trade agreement would grant broad powers to multinational companies and investors operating in North America, South America, and Asia. Under the agreement, companies and investors would be able to challenge any regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings – federal, state or local – that they do not agree with before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations (Weisma).

Importantly, two weeks ago the negotiators reached an agreement, and now, we all must continue to wait for the full details of the agreement to be released. The New York Times predicts that it may take another three to four months for Congress to enact the agreement (Lee). However, under the “fast-track” legislation, it ensures Congress will only be able to vote yes or no and not debate it. This legislation was pushed by the Obama administration.

Thus, the public cannot see the agreement or know what is in it. Not to forget that all of the negotiations were done in secret. However, Congress should pass it without debating it. This is not democracy. The following includes information provided through Senators, Representatives, and leaked documents.

The trade agreement would grant foreign companies and investors rights that are not applicable to U.S. companies and investors, such as access to extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers. These lawyers can rotate between acting as “judges” and representing the governments who  have conflicts of interest (Wallach and Beachy, pgs. 3-4). They have no public accountability and there is no requirement for tribunalists to be impartial. They also have no right to appeal. In addition, these tribunals can order governments to pay unlimited  monetary compensation.

Specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership has a massive overreaching definition of “investment” for all companies and investors involved. The following is that definition from the leaked documents:

Every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristics of an investment, including such characteristics as the commitment of capital or other resources, the expectation of gain or profit, or the assumption of gain or profit, or the assumption of risk (Wallach and Beachy, pg. 4).

Under these terms of the trade agreement, the investors could demand monetary compensation if nations “expropriate or nationalize covered  investment either directly or indirectly.” Therefore, this could be interpreted broadly to include multinational companies opposing regulatory or legal changes that diminish the value of their ‘investments.’

4aaThese new rights could mean more cases like the one in 2013, where Eli  Lilly, a pharmaceutical company used a  similar provision under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) to sue Canada for $500 million. Eli Lilly accused Ottawa, Canada, of violating its  obligations to foreign investors by allowing Canada’s courts to invalidate patents for two of their  drugs (Weisma).

According to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA),

Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt  the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.

resizeThe following is an example Senator Warren gave to describe the new powers of ISDS. Imagine that the U.S. bans a toxic chemical that is added to gasoline because it is  harmful. If one company makes the toxic chemical and opposes the law, it would normally challenge the law in a U.S. court. However, with ISDS, that company could skip the U.S. court and go before one of the tribunals. If the company wins, the ruling could not be challenged in U.S. court, and the tribunal could require U.S. taxpayers to pay millions of dollars in damages.

Unfortunately there is a growing number of ISDS cases. From 1958 to 2002, there were fewer than 100 ISDS claims in the world. In 2012, that number rose to 58 cases. Recently, a Swedish company  sued Germany because Germany decided to  phase out  nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima disaster. Philip Morris has even attempted to use ISDS to stop Uruguay from implementing their new tobacco regulations (Warren).

Under this expansion, TransCanada could force  the U.S. government to build the Keystone XL Pipeline or incur a large monetary payout for damages to  TransCanada by not building the pipeline. The expansion is troubling, especially to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who said

This continues the great American tradition of corporations writing trade agreements, sharing them with almost nobody, so often at the expense of consumers, public health, and workers (Weisma).

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a cornerstone of President Obama’s economic agenda  which faces tremendous criticism from his  own Party. The agreement is enormous and could damage U.S. sovereignty, expands the ISDS, and it adds new substantive rights to foreign companies and investors. Many continue to say that this agreement could hurt the U.S. economy, damage the environment, roll-back human rights, and destroy privacy.

Are you are Bernie Sanders supporter and wish to stand with him against the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Are you against the Trans-Pacific Partnership but not a Bernie Sanders supporter?


Works Cited

Lee, Timothy. “The just-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, explained.”     Vox.com Vox, 5 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.

Wallach, Lori and Beachy, Ben. “Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text,” Public Citizen (2015): 3-5 Print.

Warren, Elizabeth. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose.” Washingtonpost.com. Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 April. 2015.

Weisma, Jonathan. “Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S.” nyti.com. New York Times, 25 March. 2015. Web. 26 April. 2015.