Today, history was made when Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders became the first self-identified socialist elected to the United States Senate. His election is a tribute to his long-standing determination to serve the citizens of Vermont—a service he has performed admirably for more than 20 years—without sacrificing his political and socialist principles. Bernie Sanders’ political career and campaign are models for progressive electoral work and effective coalition building.
Much will be made, no doubt, of the “novelty” of Senator-elect Sanders’ faith in socialist values and the progressive economic and social policies he espouses. We believe that it is precisely those values that enabled him to be so successful. Seeing those values working in tandem with a capacity for leadership and public service is why we supported him in this campaign.
DSA members throughout the nation are proud of the support they organized for the Sanders election. The grassroots fundraising efforts that our political action committee spearheaded forwarded some $56,000 in contributions, most of them $100 or less, to the Sanders’ Senatorial race.
Added to our satisfaction with Bernie’s victory is seeing the Congressional defeat the American people inflicted on the Bush Administration and the Republican Party. That political defeat, administered to the most reactionary U.S. administration in more than a century at the hands of the American electorate, sends a clear and needed message. Voters want: a new, sane policy leading to a prompt exit from Iraq; an end to economic policies that favor the rich and large corporations at the expense of the poor, working families and the middle class; an end to the legal graft that allows lobbyists, politicians and their relatives, and corporate interests to line their pockets at the public’s expense.
The incoming Congress and the lame-duck president must not ignore this message.
We in DSA look forward to organizing grassroots support for the political program to which Senator-elect Sanders and other progressives will soon rally the country. Elements of the program include: raising the minimum wage, ending unfair tax breaks for the corporations and the richest one percent of Americans, restoring workers’ rights to join unions, moving toward sustainable development and energy independence, enacting immigration reform, and, of course, bringing the troops home now.