Sanders, Denmark, and Debs
In Eric Foner’s “Letter to Bernie Sanders” [Nov. 16], he suggests that Sanders refer to America’s radical history rather than Denmark’s, mentioning Eugene Debs at length.
When Sanders ran for governor of Vermont in the early 1970s on a third-party ticket, he argued successfully that he should have the same television time that the Democrats and Republicans had. Rather than speaking about his candidacy, Sanders presented a half-hour documentary on Eugene Debs to educate Vermont’s voters about a past that had been buried, as well as to delineate the tradition out of which his candidacy sprung.
I don’t know why Sanders hasn’t mentioned Debs, except to suggest that for most Americans, alas, Denmark is more recognizable.
I agree and disagree with Professor Foner. Placing aspirational democratic socialism within the values and history of our country is valuable, but it’s not enough—we actually lost our fight by fighting only on those grounds. We also need the fresh and pragmatically compelling news that countries at the top of the international charts—Denmark, Norway, Sweden—have a 50-year track record of delivering the goods to their people. Indeed, they have proven by many measures, including economic productivity, that their model works—so well, in fact, that their citizens today have both more equality and more individual freedom than we do. I’d say to Bernie that two arguments for democratic socialism are better than one.
Tourists at the End of Life
I want to try to put down a few agonal comments in response to Roy Scranton’s “Tourists at the End of the World” [Nov. 9]. This attempt is partly because I am one of the “silver-haired” (well, not quite yet) “adventurers,” in “various stages of physical decline,” who were “smiling in confusion” as we waited to board the MS Ocean Endeavour for Out of the Northwest Passage 2015, and that the magnanimous author may have “cheered” on. Further, since I share his kingly first name, I feel equipped to descend from my throne for this task. (Although frankly, Roy, it’s the image of you cheering me on that is mostly my muse.)