On today's BradCast, while Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are busy smearing Bernie Sanders as "extreme" and even "communist", the broad and progressive social programs the Vermont Senator is calling for in his campaign are, as my guest explains today, as American as apple pie and Thomas Paine.
First, however, voters head to the polls for crucial Presidential primary elections in OH, IL, MO, NC and FL and run into a few problems; Massive flooding hits climate deniers in the south, shutting down major interstates and requiring the costly rescue of thousands in TX and LA; And, February global heat records "shock" even climate scientists.
Then, we're joined for today's interview by Univ. of Wisconsin-Green Bay Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies Harvey J. Kaye to discuss the rich history of social democracy (or, as Sanders calls it, "democratic socialism") in the U.S. and how, as noted in the headline of his article for Moyer's & Company, "Social Democracy is 100% American".
"Social democracy means that we harness the powers of democratic government to make American life freer, more equal and more democratic," he tells me. "That stands in contrast to a conservative approach, which is either to empower a hyper-individualism in the libertarian sense, or, as we've seen so often in the Republican Party, empowering big capital and corporations to pursue their interests with some idea that it will all trickle down."
Kaye, author of the books Thomas Paine and the Promise of America and The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great, details how "the original visionary of Social Democracy was the American revolutionary Thomas Paine," oft-embraced by the modern Tea Party and other Republicans, even as they fail to notice his loud and frequent calls for "social security and other public initiatives" that would benefit all.
From Paine through Lincoln through FDR, Eisenhower and beyond --- at least until Ronald Reagan --- U.S. leaders helped "pioneer" a vast number of landmark social programs akin to the ones Sanders is now calling for in his Presidential campaign and on which our nation has been built from the beginning. Kaye, a supporter of the Democratic underdog, explains how and why he believes that "democratic socialism" has been turned into a pejorative over the years, thanks to both "red-baiting" Republicans hoping to tie it "communism", but also thanks to Democrats who have been playing into the same "class war from above."
"The Republican onslaught has been predictable," Kaye says, after detailing example after example of wildly popular socialist programs in the U.S. ever since our founding and through recent decades. "The corporate class war from above was predictable. But where are the Democrats to challenge it?"
Fear of such programs of social justice and economic prosperity, particularly by theoretically "progressive" Democrats, is a fairly new phenomenon in the U.S., which, he tells me, young people may not realize. "These last forty years we have seen this Republican-conservative ascendance that has so limited political possibilities. It has also limited our political imagination."
Please tune in for today's fascinating conversation as we wait for, or become exasperated by, the corporate media reporting on "Super Duper Tuesday" results...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)