Mainstream Media Doesn't Get That Its Attempts to Belittle Bernie Sanders Are Totally Backfiring
“The media is giving Bernie a pass right now,” complained Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) last week, of Bernie Sanders' surging campaign. “I very rarely read in any coverage that he's a socialist.”
Other than McCaskill's comment about Sanders being false (the media constantly points out that Sanders is a socialist), it's worth asking a very basic question: is it actually all that extreme or undesirable to be a democratic socialist, the brand Sanders has adopted?
As towering a figure as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. endorsed democratic socialism 49 years ago. As religious scholar Obey Hendricks Jr. noted, King gave an address to his staff in 1966 explaining that he thinks America ought to move toward democratic socialism:
[W]e are saying that something is wrong ... with capitalism.... There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. Call it what you may, call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God's children.
King's disdain for the capitalist system actually began even earlier. In 1952, when King was a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, he wrote a letter to Coretta Scott expounding on his views about capitalism:
And yet I am not so opposed to capitalism that I have failed to see its relative merits. It started out with a noble and high motive, viz, to block the trade monopolies of nobles, but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.
Within the context of King's words, Sanders is not at all outside the mainstream of the prophetic left-wing tradition. He may well be following a path laid out for us decades ago by one of our great American leaders.