Opinion: Bernie Sanders, the magic socialist

Tyler Palicia, ’23, agrees with Mock Convention 2020’s prediction

Tyler Palicia

Mock Con 2020 is officially over but the streets still sparkle with confetti. The prediction was a Sanders ticket – a wise choice. He speaks to the heart of the progressive American left, an important constituency often ignored by the corporate leadership of the Democratic Party.

If the prediction is accurate, Sanders will have achieved the implausible: rising from the status of an unknown independent senator – one of the few Democratic Socialist congressmen in American history – to become the Democratic nominee in a presidential race. If anything, the Sanders revolution denotes a shifting tide in American politics in which the masses point a finger at the corrupt establishment and firmly demand: change it.

While Bloomberg thinks he can purchase our votes and Biden seems to aimlessly wander the country in search of a Jell-O counter, Sanders calls upon the lower and middle classes to punch back against what he sees as the exploitative, warmongering establishment. This clear message will benefit him in the long run. His opponents either mimic it or lack their own.

In contrast to his opponents, Sanders possesses a vibrant base. However, this base will need to encapsulate moderates. Sanders’s earliest and most diehard supporters happen to be a relentless cadre of radicals – which I submit as a compliment, as I know they would take it – and hopefully they don’t scare away left-leaning Republicans or even the more passive moderates within the Democratic Party.

Sanders’s choice of a running mate will make a difference. He should select a fellow progressive rather than a moderate. Recruiting a corporate puppet like Buttigieg would spell disaster for his campaign, but I believe he’s too intelligent and principled to make that mistake. Either Gabbard or Yang would suffice.

To win the general election, Sanders needs to mount a successful offensive in the states that Hillary Clinton avoided during her 2016 run: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

A race between Bernie and Trump will undoubtedly split our country along bitterly impassioned battle lines. Expect the usual red-baiting from each side. It is my belief that both candidates mirror each other in their ability to excite a zeitgeist of rebellion against the establishments that have violated the trusts and interests of the American people for far too long.

The stakes will be higher this time than in 2016. The Left believes that it will lose the country if the sitting president serves a second term. On the other hand, Trump’s base is angrier than ever in light of the failed impeachment hearings. Every American will have to pick a side when these two rabid forces clash in a brutal showdown.

Too many Americans – including the lion’s share of Trump loyalists – incorrectly classify democratic socialism as a watered-down version of communism and therefore a threat to the American vision. Sanders’s critical struggle will be to integrate democratic socialism with the American dream – if such a thing even exists anymore – otherwise he will fail to seduce Trump’s base.

I confess that within a month’s time there is a possibility that none of this will mean anything. It’s still very much anyone’s race. The jovial taunts of a Washington and Lee professor now echo in my mind: “You guys might not get it right this year… it’ll be harder than ever.”