A BRIGHT, SHINING STAR IN THE DARK UNIVERSE OF POLITICS TODAY
THE BERNIE SANDERS PHENONENOM
I admit it. Six months ago I held the view that, as much as I admired Bernie Sanders personally and truly loved his Democratic-Socialist program, he could never be elected to the Presidency given that his proposals for the nation – free college tuition for everyone, universal, single payer health insurance, eliminating the power of corporations and Wall Street – are just too controversial, way too Red Communist, as Rush would say. But here we are, six months out from his announcement of his run for the Presidency and 11 months away from the next Presidential election, and his popularity continues to climb, particularly among young people, according to polls. I find this both encouraging and satisfying since it would seem that both Bernie and our younger population “get it;” get that mere tinkering around the edges of our economic, social and political “systems” isn’t sufficient to correct the fundamental misdirection of American society for two generations now. As of now, it’s beginning to look as if the Independent, 74 year old senior Senator from Vermont, will give Hillary a real run for her money in chasing the Democratic nomination. Bernie’s chances of becoming President? Who knows? This has been one hell of a crazy primary season and there’s nothing in the cards that portends a reduction of surprises and unimaginable outcomes for next year.
Bernie Sanders’ improbable rise from Mayor of Burlington, VT (by four votes) in 1981 after two unsuccessful runs at snagging the governorship, elected to the House of Representatives in 1990, and won his Senate seat in 2005, as an Independent, while maintaining his “Communist” views, is quite remarkable. Rolling Stone magazine’s current issue has a long, detailed interview with “the Bern” in which he explains some of his policy proposals. I reproduce a few of them here.
1. “Our goal should be a society in which all people have a decent standard of living, not a society in which a few people have incredible wealth while 47 million live in poverty.”
2. “We had an election last November  in which 63 percent of the people didn’t vote; 80 percent of young people didn’t vote. That’s, to me, not a democratic system. So what we have got to do is not only overturn Citizen’s United, but we have to move, in my view, to public funding of elections.”
3. “My job is to attract people to fight for their rights and to force Congress to respond to the needs of working families.”
4. “Everything being equal, climate-change is a greater threat to this country than terrorism. Terrorism is a very serious threat. We spend $600 billion a year on our military. We have got to begin to summon the resources and the political will. We gotta look at it like it was a Manhattan Project.”
5. “I like the President very much, and I have supported him. But these are some of the disagreements we have. The American people were crushed by the greed and illegal behavior on Wall Street, right? And the American people wanted justice,”
6. “If you look at Wall Street just from a competitive situation, the six largest financial institutions have assets of about $6 trillion – which is equivalent to the GDP of this country. They issue two-thirds of the credit cards; 35 percent of the mortgages in this country; they have 40 percent of all bank deposits, For that reason alone, Glass-Stegall should be re-established and the large financial intuitions should be broken up.”
7. “I am running for one simple reason: This country today is facing extraordinary crises in terms of climate change, income and wealth inequality; in terms of a political system which is now corrupt and is leading us toward oligarchy; in terms of the collapse of the American middle class; in terms of more people in jail than any other country on Earth; and in terms of an immigration policy which is clearly completely broken. I just do not believe that establishment politics are going to address these issues.”
Me? It’s easy for me to draw an arrow-straight line directly from Ronald Reagan’s “Government isn’t the solution; Government is the problem;” (and all his other conservative homilies), through every Administration since including Bill Clinton’s essentially conservative one, straight through the mess that America’s social, economic, judicial and political systems have become, to land smartly at Bernie Sanders and his Democratic Socialism. Can Bernie snag the Democratic nomination? I think it’s doubtful. He has succeeded in pushing Hillary markedly to the left and I suspect will continue to do so for the remainder of the 2016 campaign. Will disappointed Sanders’ supporters vote for Hillary? That, too, remains to be seen but in the words of Bill Maher, “if you can’t get the streak, then you settle for the chicken.” After all, if it’s a choice between your personally less desirable Democratic candidate and ANY of the Republican candidates in the running today, there should be no hesitation in making your decision.
Of particular importance particularly after the disaster that were the 2012 and 2014 midterm elections, is the stark choices we are being presented with – a continuation of the conservative memes that have resulted in the disaster America that Bernie speaks so passionately and eloquently about – or a change in direction no matter how tentative, how long-term, how unlikely towards a more equitable, fair and just society is, for me, an easy one. It’s a no-brainer.
Have A Good Day!