America’s Socialist Senator

According to the Guardian, America is set to get its first ever Socialist Senator, courtesy of the good voters of Vermont:

[Bernie Sanders] is an unapologetic socialist and proud of it. Even his admirers admit that he lacks social skills, and he tends to speak in tirades. Yet that has not stopped him winning eight consecutive elections to the US House of Representatives.

“Twenty years ago when people here thought about socialism they were thinking about the Soviet Union, about Albania,” Mr Sanders told the Guardian in a telephone interview from the campaign trail. “Now they think about Scandinavia. In Vermont people understand I’m talking about democratic socialism.”

Apparently, the highest vote received by a socialist candidate for the US Senate before was 6%, way back in the 1930s.

I’m not a Socialist, but I think this is great news – not least for the state of American democracy.  It was never particularly unhealthy in the first place, but if Sanders makes it to the Senate he’ll contribute a great deal to enhancing the diversity of political debate in Washington.

And it’ll be fascinating to see what impact his election will have on makeup of the Senate if the Democrats and Republicans are neck and neck after Tuesday’s elections.