What Bernie Sanders Has Achieved

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Paul J. Richards/APF)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: Paul J. Richards/APFJohn Cassidy, The New Yorker


John Cassidy | The New Yorker | Reader Supported News | March 19, 2016

s he has been for most of the past year, Bernie Sanders is on the road. On Thursday, he was scheduled to hold a town-hall meeting at the Twin Arrows Casino, east of Flagstaff, Arizona. You read that right: the seventy-four-year-old Vermont senator was set to issue his trademark call for a “political revolution” and to demand more income and wealth redistribution at a capitalist mecca in one of the most conservative states in the Union.

That, in itself, says something about Sanders and the historical significance of his campaign. He has cast aside many of the rules and adages of American politics, one of which is that it’s hard for liberals, never mind self-described socialists, to win support in the Sun Belt. And although Sanders now seems unlikely to win the Democratic nomination for President, he has achieved much more than that.

In reaching out to the young, the idealistic, and the disillusioned, he has earned far more votes than virtually anybody in the Democratic Party (or the punditry) expected. He has expanded the political space, bringing controversial issues like rising inequality and political corruption, which had previously been considered the province of leftists and policy wonks, into their rightful place at the center of the discussion. And by refusing to accept corporate money and basing his campaign on individual donations, he has reinvigorated American democracy.

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