Princeton professor says Sanders campaign showed mass appeal of democratic socialism

Princeton professor Matt Karp said Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign demonstrated that democratic socialism appeals to many voters, but the Democratic Party still relies on support from upper-middle class suburbs.

Karp told Hill.TV that the next step for the progressive wing of the party is to grapple with “how to get from relevance to power.”

Increased voter turnout from white, wealthy suburbs was “more decisive” in contributing to Sanders’s defeat in the primary than his loss of white, working-class voters to former Vice President Joe Biden, Karp argued.

The “Never Trump” Republicans “turned into ‘Never Trump’ Democrats with the same ideology and basically won the Democratic primary for Joe Biden,” said Karp, who’s a contributing editor to Jacobin.

He went on to say that in order to move forward, the Sanders campaign has to reckon with the notion that their candidate “failed to turn out the working class voters” in the way that Biden turned out the “dominant wing” of upper-middle class voters.

Karp added that Sanders’s inability to energize older African Americans who support establishment candidates was also a key factor in his loss.

“The party of Obama is real,” he said.

The challenge for the left wing of the party, Karp argued, is harnessing the power of “under-45 dissatisfaction with the political system” to create a multiracial coalition that would bring class politics to the forefront of the Democratic platform, without it dissipating into “cultural resentments” that “do not produce organized power to challenge capital.”

“That needs to happen and how it happens without Bernie is open-ended,” he said.