Bernie Sanders: US working class stands up

By Heiko Khoo 
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 12, 2016
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Bernie Sanders' crushing victory over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary turns U.S. politics upside down. Sanders, a rank outsider at the start of the leadership campaign, is fomenting a “political revolution.” He wants to change the country's political culture, economy and institutions, and make them serve the people. Perhaps, Sanders will be elected as presidential candidate for the Democrats against all expectations. This is a real possibility because of the militancy and determination of his mass support base.

Sanders only joined the Democratic Party in 2015, after serving as an independent in Congress since 1990 and in the Senate since 2006. He champions “socialist” causes: workers' rights, the struggle for civil liberties, sexual liberation, welfare rights, opposition to imperialist wars; and above all he ferociously attacks Wall Street and the “billionaire class”–whom he tells – "you cannot have it all." Millions of supporters have given small donations – people who believe he defends the interests of the majority – the middle and working class.

Sanders is a fighter. His words boom as his fists punch the air. His arms express the people's anger at the betrayal of American hopes and dreams. He castigates the fraud of Wall Street, demanding that the most powerful banks be broken-up, and that the corrupt campaign financing system be ended. He champions the plight of the homeless, people evicted after wage cuts and job losses threw millions of Americans into poverty. He supports universal healthcare, and explains that the USA spends more on health per capita than any other advanced economy– yet millions have no health insurance. He advocates free college education and a program of public works and infrastructure investment to create 13 million new jobs.

The machinery of the Democratic Party is behind frontrunner Hillary Clinton. But Sanders has tapped into a deep grain of unarticulated social opinion, which reflects the simple fact that U.S. society is a class society –organized to exploit the workers. The USA, with its commonly held ideology–that individual freedom is best protected by a culture of universal entrepreneurship –is a society at war with itself. The Great Recession in 2008-9 not only wreaked havoc on the lives of millions of people; it also cleared the dust from the eyes of tens of millions who lost faith in U.S. capitalism.

However, Sanders’ vision of socialism is a social-democratic one. He seeks reform towards a Nordic model of social welfare. Nevertheless, to bring this into being would entail a huge battle to counter and defeat the opposition of business and other interests that feel threatened.

Sanders often addresses his remarks to the middle class by which he means workers on reasonable incomes. Indeed, the majority of Americans are proud that they work hard and strive to advance in society. They tend to identify themselves as middle class but in recent years millions have been impoverished.

It might appear strange that Sanders is said to be trailing Clinton within black communities. After all they tend to be poor, discriminated against, and militant in defence of their rights, and Sanders champions their causes. But he predicts that as the campaign heats up everyone will begin to follow the debates more closely; and the majority will naturally side with his crusade against corruption and his message of socialist change.

There is still a long way to go in the campaign but the New Hampshire victory provides powerful momentum to Bernie Sanders' campaign. He has changed the entire focus and character of the debate in U.S. politics. Socialism is back big time.

Heiko Khoo is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion article reflected the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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