The crowd roars. Young activists jump on stage and steal the mic from the speaker’s hands to partake in civil disobedience and public disruption. This is the event in Seattle a few weeks ago, where Black Lives Matter activists stormed the stage of a Bernie Sanders speaking event and stole the microphone to proclaim—black lives matter.
To truly understand that incident, it has to be asked, what is Black Lives Matter? For that matter, who is Bernie Sanders? Most importantly, what is the difference between the two of them? They both have the same politics. They both support Community Policing. They want the creation of a global carbon tax. They press for an overturning of Citizen’s United, total government funding of higher education, single-payer healthcare, a $15 minimum wage and an international agenda. It appears that the main difference between the two is…their tactics.
Their tactics? At the surface, one would believe that they have different tactics. Bernie Sanders—speak and vote. Black Lives Matter—shut down the city. The Bernie Sanders “movement” appears to have differences. But who is the Bernie Sanders movement? It is not just his supporters; it is those individuals and organizations which devote time and money to organizing Bernie Sanders’s campaign trail, message, and public image.
The point of this article is not to highlight only the background of Bernie Sanders. Bernie’s voting record in congress contains many choices which are supportive of the libertarian cause and these choices deserve to be condemned. I will mention that in another article though. The point of this post is to critique those who offer him his greatest support and influence. So who are these?
Democratic Socialists of America
There have been dozens and possibly hundreds of small local activist groups to participate. A total list would run for pages and pages and would be difficult to compile. If a total list were made, it would be clear to any observant reader that one organization in particular has an overwhelmingly strong influence behind directing Bernie Sanders’s campaign. The Democratic Socialists of America. (DSA)
Who is the DSA? The New York Times describes them as:
The Democratic Socialists, which for many years included luminaries like Michael Harrington and Irving Howe, have about 6,000 [members].
“It’s not easy to make political progress outside the two-party structure because people don’t want to waste their votes,” said Frank Llewellyn, 62, the national director of the Democratic Socialists, who became a socialist as a result of the civil rights and antiwar movements.
Rather than battling for power through elections, all three parties try to sway the national conversation through coalitions with labor unions and other mainstream organizations. Both socialist groups turned out at City Hall this month to protest budget cuts, at a rally that was largely organized by the unions.
In other words, the goal of the DSA is not to control the Democratic Party directly. It is to change the way the public thinks of politics and from there, both the Democratic and Republican parties move to the left. To do this, they work through fronts and by establishing cooperation with many progressive groups.
Notably, DSA has strong influence in some of Obama’s policies. During the 2008 election cycle, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney offered “Romneycare” as his alternative to “Obamacare.” It came out that one of Romney’s health experts was John McDonough, the same man that designed Obamacare. The Obama campaign used this as material to prove Romney offered no real changes. What wasnt mentioned by the Obama campaign was that John McDonough had served as a former long-time chairman for the Boston chapter of DSA. Quentin Young, Obama’s former physician, is a DSA member as well.
They also have control of the Democratic Party through influencing and sponsoring elections of certain labor union officials. Supporters of Sanders would note that he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont for eight years and he did some good for that city. In that respect, Sanders had successfully built a base of people within Vermont who are further to the left than the mainstream. As mayor of Birmingham in the 1980s, he hung a Soviet flag up in his office.
Local chapters partake in practically every progressive cause at their hand. Several members of DSA, including Sanders, founded and ran the Congressional Progressive Caucus—which currently boasts 68 members of congress..
Members of DSA, according to KeyWiki, include Bernie Sanders, Major Owens, John Conyers, Cornel West, Gloria Steinem, Quentin Young, Socialist Party USA Leader David McReynolds and the imprisoned Russian spy Kurt Stand. Their founder is Michael Harrington, a former adviser of Lyndon Johnson in the War on Poverty, whom formed the DSA in 1982 by merging his Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee with the smaller New American Movement.