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“Flashback: It’s debate night in New Hampshire, and Bernie Sanders is waiting impatiently for his turn. Beside him on the split-screen, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, looks perfectly presidential: Her body is still, her expressions are composed, her voice is firm but restrained. Sanders is notably less well-trained, less presidential. Bobbing and weaving, biting his tongue, visibly anxious, Sanders is hardly able to contain himself while Clinton speaks. When she finally finishes — and it hasn’t been that long — the man uncorks. Possessed with a telegenic sense of deep injustice, Sanders embarks on a long recitation of all the screws being turned on the casual viewers back at home. He returns repeatedly to the subjects of our gross income and wealth inequality, the unchecked malfeasance on Wall St., and the corruption of our politics by massive influence-purchasing bribes masquerading as donations. But all of this is just the lead-up to what Sanders really wants to talk about, the central premise of his whole campaign, the sine qua non of his entire political theory: America can only see its way past these monumental problems if it embarks upon a political revolution of unprecedented scale. Only when millions and millions of people come together to upend the political status quo, Bernie suggests, will real progress be possible.

“It’s a stirring message that speaks directly to the disillusionment of so many young people, who understandably feel that politics and politicians are captured by the super rich, their representatives’ values and ideals compromised by the pressure of the “permanent campaign,” and by the enormous costs of running one. But Sanders’ message also begs a fairly obvious follow-up: What does this “political revolution” look like? Is it even possible? And while many of those asking these questions are Sanders’ fiercest critics, who likely find his brand of politics to be naive and idealistic, it’s a question that his most ardent supporters must also consider. Because if Sanders manages to capture the presidency, he will face a Congress comprised of two hostile parties who both find the very implication that underlies his campaign to be noxious and personally insulting. How he navigates those murky waters, and whether he can leverage his political success into a much broader leftward tilt, will surely determine whether or not this nation can adequately accomplish his main ambition.”

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