Independent-Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is awfully popular among progressives. He may run for President in 2016. Our modern Eugene V. Debs tells NPR that Democrats could get their traction back by rediscovering the working class:
...people look out and they say, "Gee, the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well." And where are the Democrats? Do people see the Democratic Party standing up to Wall Street? Any of these guys going to jail? Not really. The average person is working longer hours, lower wages, and they do not see any political party standing up and fighting for their rights. What they see is a Republican Party becoming extremely right wing, controlled by folks like the Koch brothers. But they do not see a party representing the working class of this country [Bernie Sanders, interview with Steve Inskeep, "Sen. Bernie Sanders on How Democrats Lost White Votes," NPR: It's All Politics, 2014.11.19].
Senator Sanders sounds an awful lot like our own Rick Weiland. Does that make Weiland a socialist... or just the right man to lead the South Dakota Democratic Party back to its mission and electoral success?
Senator Sanders recommends the sort of socialism that South Dakotans of both parties love—big federal investment in infrastructure:
...whether you're white or black or Hispanic or Asian, if you are in the working class, you are struggling to keep your heads above water. You're worried about your kids. What should the Democratic Party be talking about, Steve? What they should be talking about is a massive federal jobs program. There was once a time when our nation's infrastructure — roads, bridges, water systems, rail — were the envy of the world. Today that's no longer the case [Sanders, 2014.11.19].
Roads, bridges, water systems—we could be building real public goods that would put millions of Americans to work and serve the national interest, but a majority of Senators in the pocket of Big Oil think it's more important to authorize a private foreign oil pipeline that would hurt the U.S. economy and the working class.
Senator Sanders likely won't derail the Clinton nomination. But his exhortation to working-class politics could point Rick Weiland and South Dakota Democrats the route toward votes in 2016.