What does the rise of Bernie Sanders mean? He leads Clinton among Democrats under 50. Her lead among blacks, Latinos and older voters gives her a slight edge in national polls. He may not win, but Sanders success suggests that a more youthful, perhaps less white, but like-minded candidate could one day soon win the White House and merge American politics with that long arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice. We are witnessing the end of a decadent cycle that began with the election of Reagan in 1980.

Reagan was elected on a program aiming to restore capitalism to its mythical and pristine past. He reversed 50 years of progressive taxation, dramatically increased military spending, and made absurd claims about balanced budgets. Bush “The Elder” rightly dismissed Reaganomics as “voodoo economics.” Predictably, deficits exploded.

But rewarding the rich was only half of Reagan’s insidious plan. He moved quickly to freeze the minimum wage and squeeze low-wage workers. Those on the bottom were forced to pay for the party at the top.

Neither Clinton nor Obama ever seriously challenged Reagan’s regressive reforms. An explosion of inequality resulted, along with revenue crises at every level of government. Economic stagnation and the rise of the 1 percent culminated in the waning of democracy and subsequent descent into oligarchy. The average American is worn out and fed up.

Sanders’ success demonstrates that America is tired of economic stagnation, rising inequality, and political duplicity. The other candidates (with one farcical exception) argue for a gradualism that demands acquiescence to the status quo.

Sanders is forthright about his intention to restore progressive taxation and a higher minimum wage. His call for a fair economy and political revolution is timely and authentic.

Chris McKinnon


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