Last night I had the pleasure of attending a house party for Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s only congressman, and more notably, the only Socialist holding national office in the United States. He was inspiring and upbeat, explaining that to be a socialist is to believe that “civilization has not yet begun.” The idea of a society that meets everyone’s basic material needs is, he explained, “not utopian — it’s completely possible.”

It is refreshing to hear a politician speak in ambitious terms, of great things that we can achieve as a society — like health care for all — rather than simply wailing about Republican evils. Sanders was realistic about the right-wing menace, but hasn’t lost his vision. After fifteen years in Congress, he’s now running for Senate. His opponent, Republican millionaire Rich Tarrant is spending millions of his own money running mendacious, Rove-ian attack ads accusing Sanders of sympathy for terrorists and child molesters. Still, Sanders is leading in the polls by 66 to 27. If you want to help out Sanders in any way, or learn more about his campaign, check out his website .

Also in attendance at the Sanders gathering was Jonathan Tasini, ebullient from winning 17% of the Democratic primary votes in his race against Hillary Clinton. That’s much more impressive than anyone expected, considering the popularity — and, above all, financial muscle — of the incumbent. Maybe he’ll run for office again, now that so many more New Yorkers know who he is. I had a baby with me, and Tasini cooed at him with great sincerity — obviously a pro after months on the campaign trail. Sanders, by contrast, awkwardly avoided the baby, which was odd for such an accomplished politico — but nobody’s perfect.