Books in brief: Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders' book is part memoir, part campaign diary and part political manifesto
December 14, 2016
Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders (Profile, £14.99)

Could Bernie Sanders have beaten Donald Trump? That question will remain one of the great “what ifs” of American politics. Regardless, as Sanders has said, the fight goes on and Our Revolution is a first step in that direction. Part memoir, part campaign diary and part political manifesto, it was published a week after the presidential election.

It seems that Sanders didn’t anticipate a Trump victory. There is relatively little mention of the President-Elect here and no protracted post-mortem. Instead Sanders turns his sights on corporate greed and the influence of money in politics. Our assumption must be that his book was designed to push President Hillary Clinton further to the left.

Anyone looking for campaign-trail gossip or public score-settling will be disappointed—the common thread is that integrity and a genuine connection with voters’ concerns can beat machine politics. He became mayor of Burlington, Vermont by speaking to voters and campaigning on the issues. In the same way, his strategy during the Democratic primaries was to speak to as many people as possible. (Though there he was less successful.)

British readers will be struck just how moderate it all seems: a single-payer health care system, the abolition of the death penalty, paid maternity leave, the right to two weeks’ holiday for workers. There is little, bar his staunch opposition to NAFTA and TPP—policies he has in common with Trump—with which even the most moderate of social democrats could take issue. But if the ends are moderate the means are radical—building a social movement from below. Those on the left should take note.