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Mon Nov 2, 2015, 11:28 PM

Why Bernie Sanders Should Invoke Eugene Debs

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/02/why-bernie-sanders-should-invoke-eugene-debs/
Excerpt:
Eugene V. Debs is to Bernie Sanders what Abraham Lincoln is to Barack Obama. It is easy to see why Sanders admires the old Socialist leader. He was a tireless champion of the working class, who went to prison before sacrificing his integrity, and made the capitalist class (or as Sanders calls it, the billionaire class) shudder with fear. Last week, Sanders announced that he is planning a “major speech” on Democratic Socialism, and while providing examples of modern European countries like Denmark and Norway is no doubt important, it would be remiss to leave out America’s own radical past and one of its foremost leaders. As Eric Foner wrote in The Nation last week, in a letter to the Senator:

“I urge you to reconsider how you respond to the inevitable questions about what you mean by democratic socialism and peaceful revolution. The next time, embrace our own American radical tradition. There’s nothing wrong with Denmark; we can learn a few things from them (and vice-versa). But most Americans don’t know or care much about Scandinavia. More importantly, your response inadvertently reinforces the idea that socialism is a foreign import. Instead, talk about our radical forebears here in the United States, for the most successful radicals have always spoken the language of American society and appealed to some of its deepest values… Each generation of Americans had made its own contribution to an ongoing radical tradition, and you are following in their footsteps. So next time, forget about Denmark and talk about (Thomas) Paine, (Frederick) Douglass, FDR, and Debs as forebears of a movement that can make the United States a fairer, more equal, more just society.”

America has a rich history of radicalism, and Sanders is quite simply reviving this long tradition after decades of dormancy. It has been nearly a century since Debs was sentenced to prison for opposing the first World War, and today, opposition and revolt are more important than ever.

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Response to mother earth (Original post)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 11:36 PM

1. This part is fascinating.



For one last time, Debs ran for president from his prison cell in 1920, and received nearly one million votes. In December of 1921, President Warren Harding commuted Debs sentence to time served, and he died five years later at the age of 70.



Thanks for the thread, mother earth.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 11:46 PM

2. "Fire in a crowded theater"

Side note: Debs's case was part of a trio of cases that established the "clear and present danger" doctrine of restrictions on free speech, and gave us the famous "shouting fire in a crowded theater" metaphor. So next time you see that phrase used, remember it was invented as a comparison to handing out anti-war leaflets.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 11:50 PM

3. By the 1960s and the Vietnam era protests, that didn't matter. n/t

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 11:52 PM

4. Eugene Debs was an incredible man, it's quite telling & appropriate that Bernie greatly admires

him. I say let's own this, we are, afterall, the new social movement. Whether we be glorious and successful in electing Bernie or not, this rebellion is only beginning. Let's call it what it is, we've all had enough of Wall Street calling the shots, and oligarchs in general, all hijacking gov't.

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Response to mother earth (Reply #4)

Mon Nov 2, 2015, 11:56 PM

5. To get near a million votes while you're in jail and this in 1920 with no television or radio

advertising speaks highly of the import of Deb's message to the people.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #5)

Tue Nov 3, 2015, 12:00 AM

6. Absolutely, like today, people who want REAL change, not just phoney rhetoric, are all

supporting Bernie...the powers that be would like us to forget our American heritage of rebellion for a just cause, and don't we have one today...just as then, we are waking up in record numbers, and party allegiance be damned, Bernie is reaching across the political spectrum for good reason.

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Response to mother earth (Reply #6)

Tue Nov 3, 2015, 12:09 AM

8. When they say the "winners write history" it's not just the victors of war but those

that come out on top in politics as well.

You can see it in real red states attempts at removing "uncomfortable confrontations" from school history books.

The principle message to a nation of over 300 million people from the corporate media today is to worship at the altar of money, royalty and celebrity.

If the General Election ever came down to Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush, I do believe most corporate media pundits would have orgasms on live television.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 12, 2015, 06:06 AM

11. Due to Felony Disenfranchisement, Debs himself was not one of those nearly one million voters.

 

For one last time, Debs ran for president from his prison cell in 1920, and received nearly one million votes.


Debs was not allowed to vote for himself, because the qualifications for voting for President were more stringent and severe than the qualifications for running for and serving as President.








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Response to mother earth (Original post)

Tue Nov 3, 2015, 12:04 AM

7. While undoubtedly an important and influential figure in US history, when it came to

getting elected president, Debs was a 5 time loser.

If Sanders were to invoke Debs it should be in an attempt to popularize and humanize Socialism, not as a presidential candidate.

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Response to mother earth (Original post)

Tue Nov 3, 2015, 11:16 AM

9. I wish he would. It would be a good narrative for Bernie


to introduce himself to voters as to why he is a Democratic Socialist and how important it is to bring the Dem Party back to "The People Party," with continued activism. I could even see campaign ads incorporating snips from not only Eugene Debs but FDR. IOWD's "Info Campaign Ads."

Bernie needs to introduce himself to the rest of America who don't know what he stands for. And, wouldn't it be good if he could revolutionize TV Campaign Ads by throwing some history in about the Democratic Party's great moments in legislative actions which were led by activist movements and what was achieved before the "Take Over" by DLC/ThirdWay/NoLabels crowd.

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Response to mother earth (Original post)

Tue Nov 3, 2015, 01:18 PM

10. Disregarding the fact that only a couple of percent of people

even know who Eugene Debs was, he also ran for President five time, losing spectacularly every one of them. Hardly a model for a presidential candidate in 2016, I'd think.

While it wouldn't really hurt Sanders to mention Debs and even to liken himself to that socialist pioneer, it also wouldn't do him a bit of good. It might lead a few people to look up Debs on Wikipedia, perhaps, but wouldn't garner him any additional votes.

Elections are won and lost by getting people to vote for you. People who don't know anything about Eugene Debs won't pay any attention. People who do know about Debs will probably remain of the same opinion of whom they prefer.

Very few American voters are history buffs. Debs is long out of the collective memory in this country. Aligning oneself with him will do no good in this election. No harm, either, but that's not the point of campaigning, really.

ETA: There actually is a town in Minnesota with the name Debs. It's named after Eugene Debs. At last count, it had a population of three. I'm sure each of them knows who Eugene Debs was. It's quite a remote little place, in the northern part of the state, and getting to it isn't easy, but it exists.

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Response to mother earth (Original post)

Thu Nov 12, 2015, 06:17 AM

12. He made a Debs documentary in 1979

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