A longest serving independent in the history of US Congress, known for being highly critical to neoliberalism and economic inequality, Sanders has earned laurels world wide for his social democratic and economic policies.
He campaigned fiercely and enthusiastically for his 2016 democratic nomination which later turned unsuccessful. But Sanders urged his supporters to continue political revolution for transforming America. Sanders mostly used social media platforms that too effectively to help his campaign gain momentum.
On 8th April Sanders announced that he is suspending his campaign, with this his chances of contesting presidential election as democrat came to an end. At one time it seemed that Sanders was going to win 2020 democratic presidential primary, such was his popularity. Some of the party elites felt a threat to their job and status, he seemed a serious threat and challenge to the long held party policy orientation of democrats. This unnerved many in the party and he couldn’t get any elite support. Some in the party labeled him as a divisive force in the party. The democratic party elites and its associated media have a strong influence, especially in choosing its presidential nominee.
Sanders ran a noble campaign. Many call him a father of modern day progressive movements. His only slogan has been political revolution and truly so. His manifesto was revolutionary which included, medicare for all, that every American’s healthcare would be sponsored by govt so no more medical debts. Free education in public colleges and universities thus no student debt. Big labour unions allowed to formulate and function. Housing assistance to all Americans. Less spending on military and no to wars. On foreign policy he posed some serious questions on the nature of relation with Israel and Saudi-Arabia. On environmental side, zero emission cars, electricity only from wind, solar and hydropower. His policy on environment issues was very holistic. Famous environmental group Green Peace highly endorsed Sanders’ take on environmental issues
His campaign highlighted the crisis many families in America are facing and which most of other Americans noticed only after covid-19 outbreak. He was the only alarmist about their horrible conditions when rest of Americans were complacent.
His campaign convinced Americans to think other way and his ideas dominated the national conversation. He injected novel ideas into political sphere. Many believe that Sanders’ platform could be a starting point for modern progressive politics. The most important thing was his uncompromising stand on the ideas he preached, proliferated and fought for. He refused any sort of reconciliation over his progressive ideas even with people having a huge say in party. Which became a big reason for his loss.
With an increase in right wing and populist politics through out the world Sanders could have proved an ideal alternate to right wing, populist and partisan politics. A combination of populism, anti-immigration and authoritarianism regimes is a deadly combination to create havoc on the liberties of common people throughout the world.
Experts believe that globally we will witness an increased discrimination, nativism, anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies. There can be an increased rhetoric about border walls, restrictions on movements across countries and discrimination towards other communities and societies. An interventionist state with increased intervention in economic matters, more authoritarianism, a ready surveillance technology at its disposal would prove a nightmare to civil liberties.
With a poor response to covid-19 a failing US and China’s effective response means a greater role for China and Chinese model of politics in world. Chinese politics is the worst form of a deadly combination mentioned above.
In the face of global pandemic Sanders slogans like Americans must not act for themselves, but in the service of others and now is the time for solidarity, love and compassion. Sanders seemed a perfect choice of an ideal leader in post covid world. Many leaders, movements and parties across the world could then imitate his compassionate policies in a wounded world to heal it and make it a better place to live in. But alas! Any chance of sanders coming to power seem already over and we have to wait more for an alternate.
Dr Ishfaq Jamal is a Kashmir based columnist.