For many, the American dream has become a nightmare.
Politics is a minefield and I typically don’t take sides. Now I’m making an exception because, in my view, something different is happening.
You’ll note that several of my blogs over the past three years have covered my serious concerns about Political Corruption and Democracy Dysfunction. (1) (2) (3) (4) I wrote, “As it exists today, the American system is entirely incompatible with the democratic ideals upon which it was ostensibly founded. A political revolution seems to be the only solution to the countless problems plaguing America.”
I think, I hope, that maybe – just maybe – that Bernie Sanders is part of a political solution for America. His results after the first two election primaries indicate that that he's right for the times. America’s deeply entrenched problems must be exposed through the political process, failing which revolution is the only alternative.
Bernie Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in New York. He grew up in Brooklyn as the younger of two sons of Jewish immigrants from Poland. His father worked as a paint salesman. From childhood, as part of a struggling working-class family, he recognized America's economic disparity.
Bernie Sanders started out his career as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He served four terms as the leader of Vermont's biggest city from 1981 to 1989. He then moved on to the national political arena by winning a seat in the House of Representatives. From 1991 to 2007, he distinguished himself as one of the country's few independent legislators.
In 2007, Bernie won election to the U.S. Senate and was re-elected in 2012. He announced his plans to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2015. (5)
Bernie Sanders is a self-styled Democratic Socialist, a political ideology advocating a (6)democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy.
Democracy and socialism go hand in hand. All over the world, wherever the idea of democracy has taken root, the vision of socialism has taken root as well. This is embraced everywhere but in the United States, where many false ideas about socialism have developed. Many older Americans have become brainwashed into considering the word socialist to be repugnant. But it doesn’t seem to bother young people.
Bernie Sanders Issues
Here’s what the Bernie Sanders website says about the 21 issues that he considers are important to the American people: (7)
“The American people must make a fundamental decision. Do we continue the 40-year decline of our middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, or do we fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all? Are we prepared to take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class, or do we continue to slide into economic and political oligarchy? These are the most important questions of our time, and how we answer them will determine the future of our country.”
If one listens to what Bernie has been saying, it’s evident that he is not radical at all. In many respects, he addresses directly the fundamental concerns that many Americans have about their future.
Iowa & NH Results
Last week in the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton seemed artificial and contrived. By comparison, Bernie Sanders generated extraordinary enthusiasm with his consistent message of political revolution. He fought the supposedly inevitable Democratic winner to a draw and gained just about the same number of Iowa delegates. (8)
Young, first-time caucus goers came close to carrying the day over the traditional, older attendees. According to the Des Moines Register poll Hillary Clinton was getting 65% of the older demographic (65+) and Bernie Sanders was getting 63% of the under-35 voters. Hillary was terribly damaged by the Iowa result. And things got worse.
This week, at the New Hampshire primary, America witnessed Bernie not just holding his own, but winning by a large margin. (9) American politics is experiencing a revolution led by female voters. Bernie won 53% of the female vote compared to Clinton's 46 %. Among young women, his numbers were even higher: 69% of Democratic women under 45 and 82% of female primary voters under the age of 30 voted for him.
Follow the Money
Fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.
Political candidates are restricted in how much they can accept from any single donor. The vast majority of the funds backing presidential candidates, approaching $1b this year, are being channeled through SuperPACs that can generate unlimited contributions, enormous campaign war chests, from almost any source. Take a look at the list of funds raised by the 2016 presidential candidates. (10)
Bernie Sanders is the exception. His campaign has raised more than $ 75m, all of it from smaller donations – $ 0.00 from SuperPACs.
During his New Hampshire victory speech Bernie announced, “I'm going to hold a fundraiser right here, right now, across America. My request is – please go to BernieSanders.com and contribute. Please help us raise the funds we need, whether it's 10 bucks, 20 bucks, or 50 bucks. Help us raise the money we need to take the fight to Nevada, South Carolina and the states on Super Tuesday.” Within a day, contributions jumped $ 6,672,590 – all from separate, small, individual contributors.
After being legitimized in 2010 by the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, corruption of the political system and is now the root of most problems in politics. (11)
These days, immediately upon being elected, the first priority for most politicians is to start to raise funds, huge funds, for the next election. These are usually not dishonest people or evil people; it is simply that if they want to stay in office they have to raise money – big money. The way they do this is selling favors. They don't say openly that this is what they do – but it is indeed what they all do.
After making big donations to politicians’ campaigns through SuperPACs, the lobbyists and large donors write legislation. Politicians not only allow it, they condone it. It seems they have no choice. No other institution in America is so legally corrupt. It's just not right.
Feel the Bern
Reasonable people have little choice but to support any politician who is openly against this kind of corruption. Bernie Sanders leads the way. One of his stated major issues is to restore Democracy by getting big money out of politics. With America’s support, he can get it done.
Book: Why Bernie Sanders Matters
Missionary. Radical. Hippy. Revolutionary. Pragmatist. Socialist. (12) Jaffe narrates the story of the rise of a scrappy kid from Brooklyn and why he just won’t quit.
Hot from the campaign trail, a vivid new biography by Harry Jaffe goes inside Bernie Sanders’s contradictions, his unusual life, and his electrifying quest to make the American dream a reality for all.
Once in a lifetime a great man comes along that makes a difference. The time has to be right. Great times make great men – Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, MLK – their times made those men. These were ordinary people upon whom the mantle of greatness was placed. (13)
In my view, Bernie Sanders has the potential to be one of those game-changers. He may not get his changes through a corrupt congress, but he will expose the problems and, hopefully, move the country towards reasonable progress.
The present system is so entrenched that change will be difficult. Bernie is proposing huge changes, and for decades the political landscape is littered with those wanting to make changes to the system, only to have them flame out. Eugene McCarthy, Ross Perot, Howard Dean and others championed change. They had lots of great ideas, but none of them ever got the chance to really do anything, because they didn’t – couldn't – get elected.
Bernie Sanders is one of those voices in the desert. Will he be diminished and eliminated like the others before him? You and I are part of the answer to that vital question. You can help by being a contributor to his campaign, to help him get elected. (14)
I cannot complete this blog on Bernie Sanders without waxing poetic:
Rich getting richer while middle-class declines
Politicians in the grip of big money donors
Voting like minions obeying their owners
Wall Street and wealthy must pay taxes their share
Not shelter profits with tax dodges not fair
Racial injustice a total outrage
Women’s pay equity, raise minimum wage
Lower prices for drugs and health-care for all
It’s urgent America, we can no longer stall
Save our planet with climate change
Vote for Bernie, he will help us arrange
This rhyme jumped out from my keyboard, inspired by my respect and admiration for this man, for his courage and dogged determination to bring change to America against great odds. Bernie Sanders generates hope and optimism for me and for many.
I’ll appreciate your own view on Bernie Sanders. Here are some questions to get you engaged:
- Are you Democrat or Republican or Independent?
- Who will you (did you) vote for in the primaries?
- Will you vote for Bernie Sanders? Why? Why not?
- Are you a Hillary Clinton supporter? Why?
- Are you a Trump supporter? Why? Will/can Trump get elected?
- If you don’t live in the US, what is your view of American elections?
- Add your own observations and ideas.
Please share your comments directly in the blog. Or, send me an email and I’ll insert on your behalf. You can choose to provide your name, or remain anonymous.
- Jim Pinto blog – Next American Revolution: http://goo.gl/49Ksg3
- Jim Pinto blog – Political Corruption in America: http://goo.gl/oQVhx4
- Jim Pinto blog – Corruption of Capitalism: http://goo.gl/6mDs0n
- Jim Pinto blog – Democracy Dysfunction: http://goo.gl/l8iEGf
- Bernie Sanders Biography: http://goo.gl/yxNycb
- What is Democratic Socialism? http://goo.gl/gwuWe4
- Bernie Sanders on the Issues: https://goo.gl/gfsSYW
- Democratic caucus that (almost) felt the Bern: https://goo.gl/z28wvB
- New Hampshire Primary: 5 Things That Explain The Results: http://goo.gl/piWEjR
- Which Presidential Candidates Are Winning the Money Race: http://goo.gl/GZdM4G
- A wealthy oligarchy of donors is dominating the 2016 election: https://goo.gl/95mYrG
- Book: Why Bernie Sanders Matters: http://goo.gl/TiVLTn
- Gandhi of America - Bernie Sanders: https://goo.gl/qggoKh
- Contribute to Bernie Sanders Campaign: https://goo.gl/Z20C0s
11 February 2016