Sunday, September 13, 2015

Revisiting 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders' Pre-2000 Political Career--Part 9

In his 1997 South End Press book, Democracy Unbound: Progressive Challenges to the Two Party System, David Reynolds described how 2016 Democratic party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders governed in Burlington, Vermont during the 1980's, when Sanders was the mayor of that small city of 38,000 people:

"Bernie Sanders....had clear limitations when he entered the mayor's office [in Burlington, Vermont[ in 1981.

"Although sympathetic to the issues raised by the women's movement, Sanders was not a feminist nor did he understand gender oppression as well as class exploitation. As a result, the Sanders' administration came under increasing criticism for not including more women in positions of authority. Indeed, Sanders' inner circle of advisors was all male....The women's council had to fight for its independence from the mayor's office, and was not one of the administration's top priorities.

"Sanders also ran into conflicts with the environmental and peace communities. Some ecologists have criticized him for focusing too much on economic growth rather than questioning the desirability of growth as an end in and of itself. The well-known intellectual advocate of social ecology, Murray Bookchin....became an outspoken Sanders opponent. A group of his supporters evolved into the Burlington Greens.

"During his first term in office, peace activists were angered at Sanders when he opposed their civil disobedience actions at the local General Electric plant. For these activists, the plant, which is the sole significant manufacturer of the high-speed, multi-barrel guns used against Nicaragua, was the natural local manifestation of the U.S. military machine....Although in negotiating around these issues Sanders agreed to set up a peace conversion task force, little was done. Similarly, anger flared again in 1985 when a newspaper reporter discovered that the local police had infiltrated the peace movement.

"In response, the Sanders' administration pushed the police commission to adopt guidelines for the use of undercover police officers. Yet critics from the peace movement did not see this measure as an adequate protection. The administration did not give their issue priority perhaps due to the role that the police union played in Sanders' electoral success in 1981....

"Sanders also took criticism for his own leadership style. Critics have argued that his administration involved a tight-knit inner circle and top-down decision-making. As such, Sanders had failed to break fully with the well-established politics of the status-quo...." 

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