The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont

By Steven Soifer | Go to book overview

11
Epilogue

On November 6,1990, Bernie Sanders made the leap from Burlington city politics to the Washington, D.C., political scene. By defeating incumbent Republican Peter Smith 56 to 40 percent, Sanders became the first independent to win election to Congress in almost forty years. Amazingly, the Democratic contender won only 3 percent of the vote. Sanders's victory was all the more remarkable because, since the Civil War, Republicans have won in sixty of the last sixty-one Congressional elections for Vermont's lone House seat. The victory has national significance, too. Prior to Sanders's election, only three politicians in this century have been elected to the House of Representatives (and none to the Senate) from leftist political parties. In the early 1900s, Meyer London, from New York City, and Victor Berger, from Milwaukee, were elected from the Socialist Party. Vito Marcantonio, also from New York City, was elected from the American Labor Party in the 1930s and served nonconsecutive terms until his defeat in 1950. 1

Having lost a close congressional race to Smith in 1988, Sanders was determined to win this time. When he announced his bid in March 1990, he ran on familiar themes: the need for a national health-care system; a steeply progressive income tax for individuals and corporations; a 50 percent decrease in military spending by 1995, and concomitant increases in federal spending for agriculture, education, housing, and social security; environmental issues; and the need for a grass- roots "revolution" for participatory democracy in the United States. 2

Almost from the start, political pundits expected a close contest between Sanders and Smith, despite the latter's incumbency, since Sanders lost to Smith by only a 3 percent margin in the 1988 congressional race. In a July Burlington Free Press poll, the two were

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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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