Thursday, April 28, 2016


Senator Bernie Sanders knew from the beginning that his bid for the Democratic nomination for POTUS was a long shot. His early remarks, before he officially declared himself a candidate, were more about pushing the Democratic Party to the left by running, rather than actually winning. I think he was surprised, as were many of us, by the amount of support he has had from voters, especially the younger generation. For awhile, it looked like Bernie might actually have a chance to beat the Democratic establishment political machine; now that possibility is all but gone.

However, I still think Bernie can win. He can win if, and only if, the people who so vociferously support him stay in the political game during and after the 2016 election.

The Bernie movement is a political revolution. The movement is criticized by the establishment for being focused on one theme: the inequality of those with lots of money and those without. But the reality is that this huge (or yuge) and growing wealth gap IS the major problem in the United States, and it affects everything in our society. The projected outcomes of this expanding wealth gap are getting more obvious.

Big money rules everything. A recent post on my blog was about a research report that found corporations and their lobby groups are very successful getting legislation passed at the federal level, while citizens and citizen lobbying groups are not successful. In other words, the power in government is in the hands of big money; citizens have no political power.

Elections, such as the current race for the presidency, are based on big money. Sanders points to Clinton's ties to big money, which are many, as a symptom of the problem. A recent fund-raiser for Clinton and the Democratic Party hosted by the actor George Clooney was a big money event; seats at the main table cost over $350,000 each. Clooney himself told an interviewer that this is obscene; however, that's the way things work, and until campaign financing is changed, well, that's the way it has to be.  Until when? Well, until a political movement with Bernie Sanders' values gains political power.

And this is how Bernie can still win. If the Bernie supporters go away after his candidacy ends, if they turn their backs on politics out of disappointment or anger, then Bernie's efforts were for naught. "Bernie or Bust" isn't a political strategy, it is political suicide. Instead, a Bernie Movement, or let's call it building a Democratic Socialist Party in the United States is where the Bernie Revolution needs to go. Young voters need to work at the local level, state level, and federal level to build a political revolution that addresses and ends the rule of big money in this country.

This doesn't mean the end of capitalism and big business; it means the end of government of, by and for the super wealthy class. It means social justice. It means living-wage jobs doing meaningful work. It means housing available for everyone, and at affordable rates. It means working together as a society to slow down the rate of climate change. It means educational opportunity for everyone. In other words, it means Bernie Sanders' platform of common sense politics.

The dark side of this election cycle is the Trumpization of American politics. Donald Trump is, unfortunately, not just a quirk. Trump represents the resentful and fearful feelings of more than 10 million people who have voted for him to date in the primaries. And these people, and their brand of politics will not go away anytime soon. In fact, I fear that if a President Illary Clinton continues the business as usual establishment politics of the Democratic Party, something I predict she will do, the Trump people will only gain more strength. This is because the business as usual politics of the Dems does not address the core issues in our society that Bernie and Trump talk about, from very different perspectives, of course. A continuation of the big money politics in America clearly does not lift the majority of Americans out of the stagnation they have been in for so long.

So yes, Bernie Sanders can be the eventual winner in this election cycle if, and only if, the young voters who have been energized by Bernie stay in the game. The first thing they need to do is be certain our next President is Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump. Second, they need to hold Clinton's feet to the fire and not let her immediately jump back to the center, which she is already drifting towards, now that Bernie's challenge has been beaten back. Third, and most importantly, young people, and oldsters like me who still have breath in them, need to build on what Bernie started. Build a movement, a political party, united around core principles of democratic socialism, and slowly take back our government from the big money class.

Feel the Bern! And take to heart the words of Joe Hill (google him): "Don't mourn; organize."


Tuesday, April 05, 2016


Social networking: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and myriad others. These internet sites and applications fall under this rubric on the basis that they facilitate social interactions between people, and therefore, one would assume, draw us closer together. 

But I wonder.  Does Facebook really connect us with other people? Do we interact socially on Facebook more than we otherwise would? I tend to think not.

Look around you. If you go into a coffee shop, walk around a park, watch people everywhere you go, how many are interacting with people around them, and how many have their attention on a screen? I once sat in a large Starbucks with my cousin Gary arguing politics, debating great global themes, telling funny stories - all while sipping coffee. I looked around the immense room filled with customers at tables and stuffed chairs and couches. Gary and I were the only people actually talking to each other; the rest were each focused on a smartphone, tablet or laptop in front of them.  It would not surprise me if some of them were in a texting exchange with the person next to them! 

I’ve had a Twitter account for a few years, although I have still not figured out the purpose of and reason for Twitter to exist (with the exception of instances where masses of people can be organized or stay informed about unfolding events). When I occasionally open Twitter, I marvel at how much time certain people spend tweeting. Do they have time for anything else? 

I use Facebook. In the past few weeks, I have purposefully not opened the Facebook app, and I don’t miss it. For me, the greatest benefit of Facebook is to keep in touch with people I otherwise would not see very often. I have also reconnected with people from my past. This is good. 

But here is my issue with Facebook: unless I open it at least several times a day, I will miss a lot. And so when I only open it once in awhile, there is a tendency to keep scrolling down in case I missed something important, or interesting. And yes, there are a number of posts that are important or interesting, but there are many more posts that are kitty cats, dogs, funny “posters” and witty sayings, and links - lot and lots of links to articles and videos and photos and……more time diverters. 

I have been guilty of posting this stuff; oh yes I have. I have posted hundreds of my photos because I want to share them. But what is the real purpose of this? Is it to see how many “likes” I get? How many comments I get? Do people like me? Am I popular? Do they compliment me? 

If this is what social networking is all about, maybe I don’t need it. Maybe the novelty has worn thin for me. Maybe, just maybe, I would do all the other things I keep wanting to do but just can’t - or don’t - find the time for. 

A few weeks ago I thought about making a cardboard sign on which I printed the words: “Let’s have a conversation!” and then holding it up while sitting alone at a table in Starbucks or some other neighborhood place. The idea, of course, would be to engage my neighbors, most of whom I don’t know, in a real conversation. Social Networking! No screens allowed! I still might try this.

The internet has spawned amazing technologies, including the smartphones, tablets, laptops and other computers and all the apps that go with them. Many times I feel it is too much. The Googles, Facebooks, Twitters, Apples of the world know too much about me, bombard me with too many ads, try to rule every moment of my life, ostensibly to improve my life. After all, if I didn’t have internet social networking at my fingertips, would I be doomed to a solitary and lonely existence? 

I’m wondering what the next paradigm shift will be in internetting (yes, I made up a word)? Will we continue to be used more and more as vessels of data to be sold and bought by ever-expanding corporations? Or will the geeks of the world figure out a more democratic internet that helps us use our time wisely between the real and virtual worlds? 

And yes, this blog is a virtual conversation. I would truly prefer to sit with other people, sipping coffee or wine, and have this discussion. Perhaps I can initiate a multi-party on-line video discussion group that would include people I know all over the world. Now that would be fun!