There is a Howard Dean feeling to the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, the socilaist former Senator from Vermont. Like Dean's effort in the 2004 primaries, Sanders is appealing to progressives and hoping to build movement of grassroots activists to bring about change. His slogan, "A Political Revolution", feels more authentic than "Yes we can". Below are some of comments he made in a frank interview with The Nation magazine, full contents of which can be accessed here:
I have always believed that the countries in Scandinavia have not gotten the kind of honest recognition they deserve for the extraordinary achievements they have made…. The Danish ambassador, whom I talked to a couple of years ago, said to me that in Denmark it is very, very hard to be poor; you really have to literally want to be outside of the system. Well, that’s pretty good. In Denmark, all of their kids can go to college; not only do they go for free, they actually get stipends. Healthcare is, of course, a right for all people. They have a very strong childcare system, which to me is very important. Their retirement system is very strong. They are very active in trying to protect their environment…. And, by the way, the voter turnout in those countries is much higher; in Denmark, in the last election, it was over 80 percent. Political consciousness is much higher than it is in the United States. It’s a more vibrant democracy in many respects. So why would I not defend that? Do they think I’m afraid of the word? I’m not afraid of the word.
On the recent riots in Feguson and Baltimore:
The question is: How do you have police departments in this country that are part of their communities, not oppressors in their communities? How do you have police officers who, when they commit acts of crime, are held accountable and are indicted? How do you have police officers receiving the proper training that they need? How do we demilitarize our police departments? All of these are important issues. The good news is that, as a country, we are paying far more attention to this issue than we previously did. If anyone thinks that the kind of police brutality that we’re seeing now is something new, they are sorely mistaken. The good news, in a sense, is that it’s now becoming public and we’re seeing it and talking about it. There has to be, I think, a significant change in police culture in terms of [the use of force]. That is a major issue that has to be dealt with. And we will deal with it, period.
The other thing, to be frank, that does trouble me is that there is so little discussion about African-American youth unemployment. How do you discuss Ferguson and not know that, in that particular community, unemployment is off the charts? How do you discuss Baltimore and not know that, in that particular community, unemployment is off the charts? African-American youth unemployment in this country is 50 percent, and one out of three African-American males born today stands the possibility of ending up in jail if present trends continue. This is a disaster. So, of course, we’ve got to talk about police brutality; of course, we’ve got to talk about reforming our criminal-justice system; of course, we’ve got to make sure that we are educating our kids and giving them job training and not sending them to jail. But I get a little distressed that people are not talking about what I consider to be a huge problem: How do you not talk about African-American youth unemployment at 50 percent?
On the election campaign debates:
The other thing I want to do is to take these debates into the so-called red areas of the country. I think it is insane that the Democrats do not have a 50-state strategy [along the lines championed by Howard Dean]. How is it that, if you are the party of working people, supposedly, you abdicate your responsibility in some of the poorest states of America? Where are you in Mississippi? Where are you in South Carolina? Where are you in Alabama? Where are you in other low-income states? If you don’t get started now, you will never advance. So I intend in this campaign to go to states that many Democratic candidates don’t usually visit.