Why an erstwhile neoliberal is feeling the Bern

Then there is the fact that Sanders is that rarest of things in contemporary progressive politics: a candidate for the presidency who doesn’t think in terms of multicultural identity politics. Of course he strongly supports civil rights for women, people of color, the LGBT community, and every other group in the Democratic electoral coalition. But he aims for the left to be more than a conglomeration of intersectional grievance groups clamoring for recognition. He wants to build a broad, unified, class-based movement of working people and the poor marching under a single banner.

That’s far healthier, politically speaking, than the more standard Democratic alternative. You might call it a pitch for civic socialism. The emphasis on “civic” helps to explain why he also tends not to agitate for significantly higher rates of immigration. Not that Sanders is an immigration restrictionist. But like most people on the left until about a decade ago, he understands in his bones that enacting a bold domestic agenda requires a sense of national solidarity — and that solidarity dissolves when it expands without limit, to include even those outside the political community.