Feeling the Bern: An Analysis of the Sanders Phenomenon

When Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for president, his assertion that he was in this to win seemed like maybe the kind of statement a candidate feels he has to make. If you followed this sort of thing, a more modest and reasonable hope seemed to be that he’d at least fare better than Dennis Kucinich, the last candidate of the left to attempt a significant candidacy, in 2004 and 2008. As a U.S. Senator, self-identified socialist, and the longest serving independent member of Congress, Sanders hopefully could…

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The Subprime Specter Returns: High Finance and the Growth of High-Risk Consumer Debt

Recognizing the risks to the public, regulators have begun to step in to curtail abuses and hold accountable those who violate the law in lending practices that affect all borrowers, including those with subprime credit scores. While default rates remain relatively low thus far with these subprime loans, we should guard against complacency. Despite the fact that large banks may be pulling back…

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The Fissuring of the Republican Party: A Road Map to Political Chaos

Donald Trump took his own stab at idiocy by reading out Graham’s phone number, encouraging his audience to “try it.” Trump’s antics came in response to Graham’s own a day before when in an effort to defend his friend John McCain, another of the billionaire’s targets, he called the rich politico the “world’s biggest jackass.” The contest intensified in September after GOP polls…

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Indentured Studenthood: The Higher Education Act and the Burden of Student Debt

Promising to do something about student debt has become the means for politicians to pretend they are doing something for the 99 percent. That was true even before the 2016 election campaign really got underway. Obama, after all, promised two free years of community college in his 2015 State of the Union address. That idea, like so many others from Republicans and Democrats, did not go anywhere, even though the most recent re-authorization of the 1965 Higher Education Act (HEA) expired in 2013. However, inaction is not just a symptom of Washington gridlock. The reality is that paying for college is a confounding, sprawling sector of the economy involving loans, grants, scholarships, and tax credits.

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Marxism and Consumer Culture

Our obsession with the question of what sort of consciousness attaches itself most readily to the culture of consumption has paradoxically blinded us to the ways in which the ideal type of the American consumer has achieved a new level of uncontested sovereignty in the political rhetoric of our market culture.

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Queer Precarity and the Myth of Gay Affluence

The LGBT movement’s laser-focus on marriage equality propagates the myth of gay and lesbian affluence as political strategy, leaving aside any analysis of class or economic inequality or poverty—much less an analysis of capitalism. LGBT people are typically depicted as affluent consumers with high disposable incomes, yet this is hardly the norm. The majority of LGBT/Q people are poor or working class, female, and people of color, who struggle to get a job or hold onto one, to pay their rent and care for themselves and the people they love.

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Green Capitalism Won’t Work

For the last 20 years, unions in the U.S. and internationally have generally accepted the dominant discourse on climate policy, one that is grounded in assumptions that private markets will lead the “green transition,” reduce emissions, and stabilize the climate over the longer term. Indeed, unions began attending the climate negotiations convened by the UN in the early 1990s, a time when the “triumph of the market” went unchallenged and the climate debate was awash with neoliberal ideas. Unions therefore focused on articulating the need for “Just Transition” policies.

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