These are the words Hillary Clinton’s campSocialist Worker, newspaper of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), uses to describe Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party in response to a (rather lackluster) endorsement of Sanders by Jacobin which is published by members of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The delicious irony of the ISO’s arguments is that they actually want Sanders to run a doomed, no-chance-of-winning presidential campaign, as they readily admit in the same editorial: Continue reading →
Senator Bernie Sanders has been mulling over a presidential run for the past few months and is set to make an announcement this week or next about his potential candidacy. Bernie, a self-proclaimed and vocal socialist, is a talented campaigner, a remarkably successful politician and broadly popular across the ideological spectrum in his home state. Should he decide to run, socialists need to play an active role in building his campaign, but we also need to think carefully about why a Bernie candidacy is important and how socialists should best support and shape such a campaign. For starters, I don’t think socialists should work for Bernie in the hopes of “reclaiming” the Democratic Party (when was it ours to begin with?). Further, Bernie’s presidential run shouldn’t be seen as a means to pull Clinton to the left, a failing strategy for sure. Continue reading →
Never in American history has a socialist been elected governor of a state, but in 1934 Upton Sinclair came close. He almost became governor on a program known as EPIC — End Poverty in California.
American socialists typically think of Eugene V. Debs’ 1912 presidential campaign as the high point of their movement since Debs won 6% of the vote, or just over 900,000 votes. Sinclair nearly matched that in 1934 by winning 879,000 votes, some 37% of the electorate. With two dozen EPIC candidates elected to the California legislature in 1934, Sinclair’s 37% was a far more politically meaningful result than Debs’ one-in-a-lifetime single-digit showing.
Despite nearly matching Debs’ power at his peak, the EPIC Sinclair campaign of 1934 has all but disappeared from the historical memory of American socialism. Almost a century later, it is the greatest story never told. These days, EPIC warrants but a single misleading mention by one Leninist journal and seems forgotten by the Democratic Socialist of America, a group that advocates the very strategy Sinclair and his followers pursued in 1934 — capturing the Democratic Party for socialism.