Bernie Sanders, Eugene Debs and Pushing the Political Center Leftward

I just heard about Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race. I have many friends who are Bernie Sanders supporters and I offer my condolences. I felt the same way a few weeks ago when Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the race. Though I’m not the fervent Bernie supporter that many of my friends are, I appreciate how Bernie Sanders has eloquently spoken out for progressive ideas and helped persuade many Americans to accept those ideas.

If we look at American history, a candidate doesn’t have to win in order for his or her ideas to win over vast numbers of people. In the Republican side, one can look at the example of Barry Goldwater, who lost in a landslide to Lyndon Johnson in 1964 but whose ideas eventually came to dominate the Republican Party.

For progressives, there are several past progressive candidacies that have influenced the general public to accept progressive ideas. The Bernie Sanders campaign of 2016. Jesse Jackson’s 1988 and 1984 campaigns. Ted Kennedy’s 1980 campaign. George McGovern’s 1972 campaign. Robert F. Kennedy’s and Eugene McCarthy’s campaigns in 1968. Henry Wallace’s 1948 campaign. Teddy Roosevelt’s and Eugene Debs 1912 campaigns.

Even though these progressive candidates did not win, they were able to persuade the general public to accept progressive ideas that had before been considered too radical. The 8 hour work day. Ending child labor. Women’s suffrage. Social Security and Medicare for the elderly. Civil rights for African Americans and for all minorities. Dismantling segregation laws in the South. Opposing unjust wars. The direct election of Senators. Campaign finance laws. LGBTQ equality. Equal pay for equal work for women. Equal opportunties for those with disabilities. Workplace safety laws. The right to collective bargaining.

In 2012 C-Span had a documentary series called “The Contenders” that presented key figures who ran for president and lost, but changed political history nevertheless. One of the episodes focused on Eugene Debs,

Eugene Victor Debs was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and ran as the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1920.

Though Debs lost, many of his ideas eventually won broad acceptance by later Americans. Among the ideas in Debs’ 1912 platform that won wider acceptance: the use of government public works programs to give jobs to the unemployed during economic downturns; the 8 hour work day and weekends off of work; forbidding child labor for those under 16; the minimum wage; social security for the elderly and unemployment insurance during economic downturns; employer provided insurance for their workers in case of industrial accidents or death; a graduated income tax and the extension of inheritance taxes; women’s suffrage; the creation of a federal bureau of health, of education and of labor.

About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He did a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippine News Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 and 2018 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
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