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 Author: gorwest
PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2015 6:33 am 
I read this yesterday on another discussion forum and thought it was worth sharing:

Bernie Sanders: A Swing and a Miss in the South

Dear Bernie:

For the most part, I would have to say that you knocked it out of the park tonight in South Carolina but despite your stellar performance in answering the questions and addressing the issues of the day, you struck out on the one most important issue that defines YOUR campaign.

You had a golden opportunity to address the elephant in the room, in the place where the elephant lives. I am talking about the divisive perception that too many Americans have regarding democratic socialism.

I don’t know if I should hold you responsible, or Rachel Maddow, or both of you, but the chance was there and neither of you grabbed it, and believe me, at this point in time, it needed grabbing.

You could have defined democratic socialism in such a compelling and forthright way that, after tonight, NO southerner would ever be able to use it as a radioactive tag again.

Have you been in Vermont so long that you aren’t aware of the image problem your brand of economics has? This is a serious problem and a serious question because in the South because for almost four decades, Republicans have owned the debate and you have serious work to do.

Want examples? Is that the problem? Do I have to come down there and help you?

I actually think that I could, and I don’t say that to toot my own horn but frankly I would have thought better minds than mine would have seized on it by now, but the silence is deafening.

So here goes, I will pretend that I am Bernie Sanders and I’ve just had this tossed at me:

“Mr. Sanders, we are in the Deep South, a part of the country that has, for the last forty years, positioned itself squarely against liberal economic policy. How do you, a self-described democratic socialist, think that you can square your ideas with this region, and with those in the rest of the country, who may have misconceptions about democratic socialism?
Clear the air for us on why you think it is the solution to our malaise.”

(Now here I go, remember, I am pretending to be Bernie Sanders, please be kind as this is not something I would normally believe I am qualified to do.)

“It’s very simple, Ms. Maddow.

America, particularly the South, has had a long and fruitful relationship with democratic socialism for many years. Nearly ALL of the economic policies enacted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt were, by their nature and by their definition, democratic socialism.

When Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1932, nearly half the rural homes in the South had no running water and no electricity. Johnny Cash grew up in a home in Arkansas lit by kerosene lamps and they got their news and entertainment on a radio powered by batteries.
So did Loretta Lynn, the Coal Miner’s Daughter. The entire region lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of modernization of even the most basic necessities of civilized living.

Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Program was a part of the Works Progress Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority was the result of a clear mandate to bring the heartland of the South into the twentieth century so that southern Americans could enjoy the fruits of modern life and modern health and efficiency.

The WPA and the TVA revolutionized industry, raised the standard of living and strengthened the South's entire economic outlook and hastened its recovery from the Great Depression.

And that is just one aspect of democratic socialism. The rest are rather obvious, public schools, the Interstate Highway System, water conservation and purification projects, Farm Bureaus, telecommunications, the NASA Space Program; all of these and more are and were part of the democratic socialist commitment to the large majority of middle class Americans, and if you grew up in the postwar years between 1947 and 1980, you benefited from the very same social and public goods that bore first fruits for both southerners and all Americans everywhere.

So in essence, democratic socialism is not by any measure, a foreign or dangerous economic policy, quite the contrary, democratic socialism corrected the greatest economic injustices brought on by the looming multiple failures of unfettered capitalism of the pre-crash years of the early twentieth century.

Democratic socialism, quite simply, was very much responsible for the greatest rise of American prosperity in the entire history of the nation, and its success has never been matched by anything that conservatives have done since the Reagan era began in 1980, and frankly, I believe that it is time for Americans to open their eyes and face the fact that they have been sold a 35 year old false promise of prosperity which was never meant to be theirs but rather, meant to for their corporate superiors and for the owners of capital itself.

Democratic socialism is a course correction that America took already, and it is time for America to remember that nothing succeeds like success, and democratic socialism already has that record of success, one just has to look at history to see it."

Your thoughts and criticisms are welcomed, and if you believe in what I wrote, please feel free to share.
Jeffery Haas

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