Sunday, June 26, 2016

HEART BERN? TAKE AN ANTACID. BERNIE SANDERS AND THE POLITICAL REVOLUTION


“OK Bernie, we get it about your political revolution, but can’t you be nice about it? Can’t you just step down for the sake of Party unity? Can’t you just endorse Hillary already, for gosh sakes? I mean, after all, you lost!”

I think a lot of people are feeling this way, especially people who are in the Hilary camp. And don’t get me wrong, I understand it, and it’s OK. You are entitled to your feelings, just as I’m entitled to my opinion (which you happen to be reading). 

I, too, had been wondering what Bernie Sanders would do once Hilary got past the magic number and was labeled the “presumptive nominee.” Bernie, however, has been very clear about this for a long time; he will continue campaigning to get as many votes and delegates as he can, and then take his political revolution to the Democratic Party convention. 

And why not? After all, what is a political party presidential convention? It used to be a gathering at which delegates from every state cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. It used to be a gathering at which political ideas met head-on in order to pound out a Party platform that the selected nominee would champion. It used to be a gathering at which delegates cast votes for the candidate they represented based on the votes of their state’s voters (there are a number of permutations of this last point, based on the state). Maybe it is still this way, and so let’s let the process roll on.

If you think that Hilary Clinton is now the nominee of the Democratic Party, you are wrong. She has the delegate count, but the delegate votes have not been cast. If you think the race is over, then why have a convention? In other words, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. Yeah, I know, the convention is just the formality that seals the deal; however, how many of us are hoping the Republican convention is not a done deal, and that somehow, magically, Donald J. Trump does not emerge as the nominee? 

“Yes, but it’s so different this time because of Donald Trump. The stakes are so high, we can’t risk a divided party!” Yes, it is different, Trump is a dangerous man, the stakes are very high; however, does that mean we should toss democracy out the window? And isn’t this an opportunity to stage a political revolution? 

I don’t know Bernie Sanders (I wish I did). There are people in politics who I respect who do know and support Bernie, including Robert Reich and Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley. I also know that Bernie perfectly represents my political thoughts and ideas. I called for revolution in a blog post during June, 2005; and pointed out that the definition of revolution is "a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.” Drastic. Far-reaching. The state of American politics, the ascendency of Donald Trump, the excesses of the moneyed class, the great disparity in wealth between the top 1-percent and the rest of us, global warming and energy use, poverty, education and on and on - all of these issues define the political realities of our nation at this time and fuel the large-scale discontent of both the right and left ends of our political spectrum. 

I understand the Bernie Sanders strategy at this time. I think it is very simple: do not concede to and endorse the presumptive nominee, but rather, maintain a position of strength backed by 12,000,000 primary votes and carry that into the convention for maximum influence. After all, the Bernie campaign is based on building a political revolution, whether or not Bernie Sanders becomes President. 

Bernie has said in interviews that he will vote for Hilary Clinton, and he will do everything he can to stop Donald Trump from being elected. These are significant statements, and should be enough prior to the convention to allay fears that he will go rogue and split the party. In his “where do we go from here” speech, Bernie outlined ideas to continue building the political movement. He asked people to sign up if they are interested in thinking about running for political office, such as local school board, city council and others. It looks like there has been a large response to this. Bernie has a set list of issues and programs; he has been hammering away with them for the entire campaign. In my opinion, he is capitalizing on his primary success to continue building a political movement, with a focus on younger people. I agree with this goal.

As far as I am aware, there is no law of nature that guarantees human societies can be governed in a way that benefits every member of the society. Many systems have been tried; most, if not all have failed. Maybe it is not possible. Maybe only the strong, the greedy, the evil, the lucky, the manipulative or some other trait succeed. But that doesn’t mean humans shouldn’t try to build an egalitarian society. I’m not talking about classic models of socialism, communism, capitalism, monarchy or anything else that’s been tried before. The Bernie Sanders model is not fully fleshed out; it has a basic framework of common-sense ideals that we can strive towards. 

So let’s do our best between now and November - and beyond. Feel the Bern if that floats your boat. Be thrillery for Hillary, if that rolls your Prius. Stay engaged, keep your cool, be thoughtful and wise. 

What an amazing election! 

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