Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Supporters arrive to attend ahead of the Bernies Back rally in Queens, NY, on October 19, 2019. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Supporters arrive to attend ahead of the Bernies Back rally in Queens, NY, on October 19, 2019. (Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Why Bernie Sanders Is Winning

If you want to have a successful campaign, it helps to be extremely authentic as you run on ideas and policies that are very popular with a majority of people.

David Goodner

 by People's Action Blog

“I’m hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight, I wonder why,” said Senator Bernie Sanders during the presidential candidates' debate in Charleston, South Carolina. “A lot of the issues we’ll be discussing tonight are issues that I raised four years ago.” 

“Raising the minimum wage to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour; making public colleges and universities tuition free; and finally, doing what every other major country on Earth does, guaranteeing health care to all people as a human right, through a Medicare-for-All, single-payer system," he added.

The 2020 presidential primary debates have always been largely about the ideas put forward by the independent U.S. senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. 

His agenda and policy proposals have dominated the discussion at each one, including at the South Carolina debate on February 25. All the rest of the candidates, including progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have spent most of the campaign trying to distinguish themselves from him. The further they get from his nationally popular positions, the more their poll numbers go down.

The week between Sanders’ blowout win in the Nevada caucus on February 22 and the South Carolina primary on February 29 was no different. 

Democratic politicians, presidential candidates, and pundits all tried to pounce on Sanders’s willingness to reiterate former President Barack Obama’s balanced comments about former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. But this Karl Rove-style red-baiting was so far over the top that the “contestants” - as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the presidential candidates he shared the stage with in Charleston - virtually knocked in the teeth their most popular former president to do so.

But these latest attacks against Sanders failed, even before before the presidential primary debate in South Carolina started. Here's how:

Earlier that day, the Associated Press (AP) Style Guide published a reminder on Twitter about how to describe Sanders' ideology. It was an implicit acknowledgement by the AP that the phraseology of the political revolution was sure to dominate both the debate and the post-debate copy.

Even more significantly, just a few hours before the South Carolina debate, former progressive presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson published an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, defending the use of the word “democratic” in democratic socialism.

“The important word in ‘democratic socialism’ isn’t socialism, it’s democratic,” Jackson wrote. “In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. confided to his staff, ‘There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.’”

While not an outright endorsement, Jackson comparing Sanders' views to those of his mentor, an international icon of civil rights, comes pretty close.

Democratic socialism isn’t the only concept the Sanders campaign has popularized into a household catchphrase. From railing against the billionaire class and the oligarchy, to pledging to fight for the working class as “Organizer-in-Chief,” Sanders' choice of words is changing the way we talk, and educating the public in ways no other candidate or campaign can.

That’s why Sanders will continue to set the terms of public debate in the presidential campaign. Because state by state, no matter what Democratic naysayers call him, his ideas are popular. The day after the South Carolina debate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’d be comfortable with Sanders at the top of the Democratic ticket in November.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

David Goodner

David Goodner is a freelance social movement journalist and a founding member of the Iowa City Catholic Worker. Follow him twitter: @davidgoodner

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone

Noting his refusal to cooperate beyond an informal April interview, the committee's chair said that "we are left with no choice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders Pushes Back Against AIPAC Super PAC With Endorsements of Tlaib and Levin

"Once again, these extremists are pouring millions of dollars into a congressional race to try to ensure the Democratic Party advances the agenda of powerful corporations and the billionaire class."

Brett Wilkins ·


Missouri Hospital System Resumes Providing Plan B After 'Shameful' Ban

The health network had stopped offering emergency contraception over fears of violating the state's abortion law—a "dangerous" move that critics warned could become a national trend.

Jessica Corbett ·


'An Act of Conquest': Native Americans Condemn SCOTUS Tribal Sovereignty Ruling

"Every few paragraphs of the majority opinion has another line that dismissively and casually cuts apart tribal independence that Native ancestors gave their lives for," observed one Indigenous law professor.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Lunacy': Democrats Risk Running Out of Time to Confirm Federal Judges

"Democrats aren't filling open seats right now in federal district courts because, for unfathomable reasons, they are letting red state senators block nominees," said one critic.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo