The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont

By Steven Soifer | Go to book overview

An aldermanic public hearing was held during this brouhaha (with only six of the thirteen aldermen present) at which most of the 125 people in attendance expressed outrage over Contra funding. With the exception of Republican Fred Bailey, all the Democrats and Republicans refused to attend because of their opposition to engaging in aldermanic foreign policy debates. Due to lack of an aldermanic quorum, no resolutions could be passed. To build on the momentum of these events, anti-interventionist activists decided to place a non- binding initiative on the November 1986 ballot that would express city voters' support or opposition to the administration's unofficial war against Nicaragua. The final vote showed a majority of voters rejected Contra aid, but the measure did not win overwhelming approval. 39


CONCLUSION

Since 1985, Sanders has consistently spoken out against U.S. involvement in Central America, particularly Nicaragua. Some of his boldest initiatives have come in this area, and they have served, by accident or design, to mend fences with Burlington's peace community. But some disagreements and bad feeling persist, stemming, at least in part, from differences in analysis and tactics. In analyzing the problems that face the progressive movement in the United States, Sanders has consistently used the lens of class struggle to inform him. He also has shown an aversion to breaking that movement down by issues. His clash with the peace movement, then, was probably inevitable given that the mayor, on the one hand, sees the issue of war and peace through the workers' struggles, while the peace movement, on the other hand, focuses on the military-industrial complex and sees the workers as part of that machinery.

But where the mayor's and the peace movement's paths crossed was in a mutual perception that the policy makers in the United States, whether the federal government or large corporations, must be held accountable for the human cost of their respective actions. And while Sanders and the peace movement are in complete agreement when it comes to foreign policy issues, there are tensions when the issues take on a local dimension. Strains were evident over the issues of civil disobedience as a tactic and the seriousness of police surveillance of the peace movement. These differences reflect disagreements over the question of how radical change can happen in this country, who is responsible for bringing about this change, and how to confront government resistance to such changes.

Sanders probably has done more than any other elected politician in the country to actively support the Sandinistas and their revolution,

-222-

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The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Historical Background and Theoretical Framework on Socialist Municipalities 1
  • 2 - Burlington, Bernard Sanders, and the Progressive Coalition 13
  • 3 - Local Government and City Finances in Burlington 39
  • Conclusion 60
  • 4 - Development and Growth Issues and the Sanders Administration 61
  • Conclusion 88
  • 5 - Citizen Participation, Democracy, and the Neighborhoods 91
  • Conclusion 117
  • 6 - The Question of Ownership Under Municipal Socialism 119
  • Conclusion 141
  • 7 - Taxes and the Redistribution of Wealth 142
  • Conclusion 171
  • 8 - Quality-Of-Life Issues and the Sanders Administration 174
  • Conclusion 204
  • 9 - Central America: Sanders and the Peace Movement 206
  • Conclusion 222
  • 10 - Conclusion 224
  • 11 - Epilogue 238
  • Notes 243
  • Selected Bibliography 273
  • Index 275
  • About the Author 287
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