Debating Bernie Sanders’ Vision

Bernie Sanders and our Gilded Age of inequality. Is he the way to end it? The chips are down. We’ll hear the Democrats’ debate.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks during a rally in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks during a rally in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Excitement and consternation in both big parties this primary season about mold-breaking, out-of-the-box candidates. For the Democrats, the mold-breaker is Sen. Bernie Sanders. His supporters are rapturous. They love that he’s outside the box. His critics are skeptical. With South Carolina and Super Tuesday straight ahead, there are a lot of kitchen table debates going on right now in Democratic households. And today, right here. This hour On Point, Democrats debate Bernie Sanders.

— Tom Ashbrook


Paul Starr, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. Co-founder and co-editor of the American Prospect. Author of “Freedom’s Power,” “The Social Transformation of American Medicine,” and many others. (@starrprospect)

Jonathan Tasini, labor activist and Sen. Bernie Sanders supporter. Candidate for U.S. Senate in New York in 2006. Author of “The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America.” (@jonathantasini)

From Tom’s Reading List

American Prospect: How Gilded Ages End — “Many critics have taken to calling our time a second Gilded Age, recalling Mark Twain’s term for the late 19th-century era when a veneer of refinement covered the brutal realities of industrial capitalism. The analogy should actually be encouraging. As daunting as the political challenges were at the time, the Gilded Age came to an end with the reforms of the Progressive era and the New Deal. Those years saw countless changes in the rules of economic life as well as new taxes and social spending that gave the great majority of Americans a better life. But behind the myriad of specific reforms was a common recognition—a collective revulsion against the privileges of great wealth allied with great power. The challenge now is to mobilize that kind of moral sentiment on behalf of a new age of reform.”

POLITICO Magazine: I Get Sanders’ Appeal. But He’s Not a Credible President. — “As appealing as Sanders may be, he is not credible as president. Elizabeth Warren would have been a credible candidate, but Sanders isn’t. The campaign he has been waging is a symbolic one.”

The Nation: Who Is the Real Progressive: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? — “ In order to understand where Sanders and Clinton fit within the Progressive tradition, it’s vital to know who the Progressives were and what they represented. Such questions have bedeviled generations of historians because there are no easy answers. Workers and farmers formed the largest constituencies of Progressive Era reform. But urban middle-class activists, white and black, male and female, also made their mark on the Progressive tradition. Progressives shared a belief in social improvement by way of public or collective action, focused on a wide array of social ills, and offered a variety of remedies and reforms: from a graduated income tax to public kindergartens, from eight-hour day laws to municipal ownership of utilities.”

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