Bernie Sanders focuses almost exclusively on the issue of income inequality and related issues – “breaking up the big banks”, student debt, etc. Even when pressure forces him to talk about the police murders of black people, he reverts back to economics, relating it to poverty and unemployment in the black communities. As if poverty is the reason the police are racist murderers.
Of course poverty and racism and oppression in general are interlinked, but they’re not one and the same. Even many of those who support Sanders understand that simply electing some more liberal politicians won’t solve the problem; the solution has to start with the active struggle of workers and youth themselves. And for those who are taken in by Sanders’ call for a “political revolution” (regardless of the fact that his goal in this “revolution” is to replace the Republicans with Democrats), keep this in mind: The two most recent mass movements in the US did not revolve around income and employment. The first was the “Civil Rights” movement and the second was the movement against the War against Vietnam. Yes, economics was related, but it wasn’t the focus.
No real movement for change in the US will exclude the most oppressed, and for many what’s on their mind is not just economics, although of course poverty wages and unemployment are important. The issue of the police is red hot for a reason.
Then there are the events that come and go, but which millions are thinking about. Take the invasion of the Malheur Nature Reservation by the group of racist, right wing white thugs who call themselves a militia. Social media is buzzing with the difference between how the police and sheriffs treat them vs. how black protesters and other protesters are treated. Yet Sanders has uttered not a word about this disparity, nor about how the media ignores it.
Any movement that is really of, by and for the most oppressed would reflect this. Yet it goes completely unnoticed by Sanders and his supporters, including those who claim to be socialists. They will never build a real movement from below this way. They will remain isolated from the most oppressed layers of society. In that case, what sort of “socialism” are they trying to build?