What Would Happen If Bernie Won?
Strategic Opportunities and Challenges for Social Democracy Today

The idea of social democracy is regaining popularity in the capitalist core, finding mass expression in two of its most liberalized economies through the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. In the US, this electoral insurgency has been matched by an even more unexpected growth of the socialist movement. This fledgling Left is faced with enormous opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, a majority of Americans support programs like universal health care, free college, rent control and a green jobs guarantee. Moreover, a decade of movement activity indicates potential for a level of class struggle not seen in this country in decades. On the other hand, these movements and the Left are up against the same class forces and political system that for over a century have successfully resisted most reforms. With these constraints in mind, our panel moves past articulating principles of redistribution toward debating the strategy that links them to a contemporary socialist vision. What growth model and political coalition are needed to pass and sustain these reforms, and how can they be pursued in a way that deepens class struggle rather than incorporating it? We will draw on the historical repertories and theoretical innovations around these questions, clarifying what is possible and desirable under the banner of socialism in our time.

Moderated by Camila Valle.

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