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November 04, 2006

Vermont poised to elect first socialist senator

The Guardian has a great profile of Bernie Sanders, overwhelming favorite in the Vermont senate race. Sanders is an eight-term congressman and an unapologetic socialist. If he's elected, he will be America's first socialist senator.

Sanders somehow got himself elected mayor of Burlington in 1981--as a flat-broke transplant from New York, no less:

"He used to sleep on the couch of a friend of mine, walking about town with no work," Prof [Garrison] Nelson said. "Bernie really is a subject for political anthropology. He has no political party. He has never been called charming. He has no money, and none of the resources we normally associate with success. However, he learned how to speak to a significant part of the disaffected population of Vermont."

Mr Sanders turned out to be a success as mayor, rejuvenating the city government and rehabilitating Burlington's depressed waterfront on Lake Champlain while ensuring that it was not gentrified beyond the reach of ordinary local people. "He stood this town on its ear," said Peter Freyne, a local journalist. [Guardian]

Democrats should study Sanders' example carefully. He knows how to translate left wing policy goals into a message that resonates emotionally with voters.


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Wo. You know, when I first read this, I read the word "senator," but I thought "congressman." I just simply couldn't process the idea that the socialists of America were finally going to be allowed their say, after so many decades of suppression. As in Soviet Russia, our socialism foundered on the idea of really allowing democratic enfranchisement.

Bernie Sanders is running for a Senate seat the previous Senator was elected to as a Republican (though Senator James M. Jeffords became an Indpendent on May 24, 2001.)

So in 6 years, Vermont will go from electing a Republican to a seat to electing a Socialist to that seat.

As Vermont goes, so goes Vermont.

>As Vermont goes, so goes Vermont.


I've followed Bernie closely since 1981, when I was teaching just across the White River at Dartmouth. I've truly never understood why the Democrats, especially now, haven't turned to him as a role model. Especially given his poll numbers, which are something like 68%-32%.

As my Vermont friends all say- we will elect Bernie to go to Washington to keep him out of Burlington. Actually they love this guy, he understands them better than they understand themselves but they really love that he has to spend alot of time away. It would appear that a little bit of Bernie goes a long way.

"Democrats should study Sanders' example carefully."

I think you're assuming a level of goodwill on the part of the Democratic party that I don't think is justified. It's like saying "The Democratic party should be more like Ned Lamont." Well, yes, but the truth is many operatives at high levels in the Democratic hate Ned Lamont.

I think people like you and me abd other commited activists need to study the situation in Vermont. I'd agree with the statement "Progressives should study Sanders' example carefully." If we can get to the point where we can take over the Democratic party, then the Democratic party will be run by people who would like to learn from Sanders'.

Lawrence, you're right; after I posted I realized I should have said "progressives" rather than "Democrats."

To a greater extent, arguably, than any other progressive politician in the country, Sanders is identified with pocketbook issues. Spending a day with him in the small towns of Vermont is the equivalent of signing up for a walking seminar on the real-life struggles of working Americans--as played out on issues ranging from protecting Social Security, retirement plans and Medicare to expanding access to healthcare, lowering drug prices, raising the minimum wage, helping small businesses get started and keeping family farmers on the land.

Helping small businesses get started? What kind of socialist is he? He should be trying to get businesses confiscated by the state. What kind of socialism allows people to have those property rights?

Dave Pseudonym -

Bernie Sanders is a socialist in the sense that Sweden is a socialist country.

Private property exists in Sweden.

Bernie Sanders is a sweet, intelligent man who will raise the intellectual level of the Senate quite a bit when he walks through the door.


Private property exists in every country in the world, and it will always be so. But that does not mean that Sweden is the same as the US, or Hong Kong or North Korea.

Sweden seems pretty socialist to me.

"walking about town with no work"

Ah, socialists.

"Lawrence, you're right; after I posted I realized I should have said "progressives" rather than "Democrats."

Posted by: Diamond_Jim"

Diamond_Jim, I'm confused about who posted this weblog entry. Are you a guest poster on Majikthise? Am I reading the order of the names wrong in the comments section? The post itself says "Posted by Lindsay Beyerstein at 02:55 PM"

Diamond Jim's a regular commenter, but I wrote the original post.

Good, I hope more socialists get elected, then the right can see what real liberals look like.

Congratulations Senator Sanders, and kudos to the voters of the great state of Vermont.

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