The likely Bernie Sanders campaign for president offers a boost and a challenge to progressives. From the outset, the campaign’s strength would largely depend on how much synergy develops with social movements on the ground. Much more than the presidency is at stake. A powerful mix of grassroots activism and electoral work could transform the country’s political landscape.
A 2020 Sanders campaign would mostly pick up where it left off in 2016. Contrary to widespread media spin, the fact that Bernie would be facing dozens of contenders for the Democratic nomination this time doesn’t change the reality of his unique approach to economic power relations. Whether it’s called democratic socialism, progressive populism or something else, that approach sets him apart from the other candidates, even including Elizabeth Warren.
Sanders has been willing and able to use a national stage for public education and agitation about inherently anti-democratic and destructive aspects of corporate capitalism. That explains why, in political and media realms, so many knives are again being sharpened against him.
Attacks on Sanders have come from many directions, but they largely spring from his detractors’ zeal to defend corporate power as a driving force that propels and steers the US government as well as the Democratic Party. Efforts to undermine the Sanders 2020 primary campaign would span from mainstream media to liberal and centrist forces aligned with competitors for the Democratic nomination.
But relations between electoral campaigns and social movements are frequently difficult, and tensions are bound to develop. “Bringing the vibrancy and democracy of activist movement culture…