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Upton Sinclair

Before Bernie Sanders, there was Upton Sinclair

Before Bernie Sanders, there was Upton Sinclair

Although Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has understandably garnered more headlines, the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is truly the one worth parsing. Americans have welcomed racist demagogues before, but an avowed socialist? The most successful presidential campaign by a democratic socialist was that of Sanders’s hero, Eugene V. Debs, in 1912. Debs won 6% of the vote. In the most recent CBS/New York Times poll, Sanders was pulling down 41% support from Democrats, and other polls show him running even or ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire.

On the national stage, the Sanders phenomenon seems new; the closest antecedent is the campaign that socialist...

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