Municipal Socialism

Or as we say, “People have to like this crap.” Todd Gitlin on Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (boldface mine):

He [Sanders] won by making good on promises. One example: A few years after Mr. Sanders left Burlington’s city hall, the mayor’s office was occupied by a Republican, who cut back the budget for snowplowing, then ran afoul of a heavy winter snowfall. In the next election, remembers the University of Vermont sociologist Thomas Streeter, a bumper sticker read: “At least the hippies plowed the streets.

That is the secret of Mr. Sanders’s style of politics, once called “municipal socialism.” It’s the ’60s reformist impulse without countercultural baggage. It’s the kind of square that needed time to become hip. It’s a moralistic politics that takes seriously the democratic proposition that elected officials must deliver results.

“The fact that he wins elections says there’s an alternative to Clinton-style politics,” says Mr. Streeter, referring to the reliance in the 1990s on conservative budget-balancing.

There will always be tribalism, especially in the era of Fox News. But much of time, if you make people’s lives demonstrably better, they will thank you for it. Of course, you have to be willing to remind them that you helped them, which the Pundit Class often interprets as incivility. Then again, the pundits’ jobs aren’t on the line, so consider the source.

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