Since the moment Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the all-too-slowly approaching quadrennial hoo-haw, I’ve observed, to my utter astonishment, how hell bent the establishment media and Washington beltway are in torching the democratic socialist. In fact, and you’ll please have to pardon my cynicism, the collective establishment frenzy betrays profound ageism and greed. In short, old people can’t be useful, and power-mongering among the supposed good guys (anti-Trump power brokers of the Democratic party) demands subservience to the finance and technology sectors of the economy.
Bernie is No Media Darling
Below is a sampling of elite and establishment opinion, remarkably across the narrow political spectrum permitted in everyday discourse :
- Yahoo Finance adeptly colors the voter landscape in perpetuity by wielding a single (yes single!) poll to demonstrate that his age and self-declared democratic socialism is too much of a turn-off,
- the Washington Times, ruled by Reverend Moon’s ghost, insists he’s too white, evidence that the Democrats really are racist anglophiles,
- the New York Times spared a little column space away from urgent existential threats to our species’ future to say Bernie’s got a silly accent (yes, grown men get paid to write this crap),
- Slate, astonishingly enough, argues that his past competition with Hillary, wrecks any chance of his success,
- the National Review heroically, yes, indeed patriotically point out that Bernie once said a good thing about the former Soviet Union ever, and thus he endorses, wholeheartedly, all evil in the universe,
- the Hill remarks that Bernie, like virtually all his predecessors, is an old white guy, the point being we need no more from that lot (perhaps they really believe Clarence Thomas is a friend to the black man),
- the Washington Post editorializes that Bernie, displayed with his facial bruises, will sink the Democratic party because one single poll says people are either uncomfortable with or uncertain about him,
- the illustrious Wall Street Journal decries socialism, confusing totalitarianism with democratic socialism while accusing Bernie of being Venezuelan (I guess they can’t tell he’s white from the Bronx),
- Fox News predictably lambastes millennials for asking the lone institution subject to popular will in a weakly democratic nation to give them a fair shake, torching Bernie as a vicious totalitarian eager to seize all hard-earned trillions of dollars of private wealth (its editors seem utterly incapable of imagining that the very wealth they worship ultimately traces from massive public investment and favorable policies for the top permille),
- Sean Hannity laughably scoffs Bernie to be a buffoonish hypocrite, cowering behind security barriers at his own rallies (how is this man still on television?),
- The Ringer reticently congratulates Bernie’s success in pioneering the Democratic party back toward egalitarian, humane policy considerations, only to insist he is no longer necessary–the New York Times follows similarly, as well as NPR and NBC News,
- the New York Times declares Bernie’s single payer plan as utterly infeasible, and they dispense heady, rhetorically-intended, would-be hardball questions whose answers, apparently inconceivable to them, are trivial, satisfyingly explained by Physicians for a National Healthcare Program–curiously, they even mention the organization in their article; did they not read the FAQ?!
- Politico cites the immaculate campaign staffers from Hillary’s 2016 run in smashing Bernie for ever using a private jet, implying, as was done ad infinitum ad nauseam with Al Gore, that Bernie should only travel by canoe since he condemns the fossil fuel industry,
- National Review wows with a thesaurus rex philosophical argument, posed in gorgeous prose, that healthcare isn’t a right as Bernie insists, because dying without insurance is the only way for a man to prove he can provide for his family (the fact that this refined libertarian is trying to tell others what to do demonstrates he believes they need him, a contravention to his entire argument; I guess one can’t cure a fool, especially one who never left the coffee shop),
- CNN excitedly delivers a scoop : Bernie once called for nationalization of industries! News flash to the wielders of McCarthy cartoon brochures from the 1950s : corporate charters, patents, copyrights, and trade agreements constitute nationalization of industries,
- Bloomberg pluckily ridicules Bernie’s millionairity, at last, challenging him on his own terms–they ought get a gold star for hall monitoring,
- Forbes also gallantly rides to the rescue of the top permille, skewering Bernie for condemning the tax system benefiting himself (it’s apparently impossible, in their “nuanced” world view, for a free agent to suggest self-inflicted inconvenience for the good of the many),
- Fox News, once again angling to be protector of the realm, questions Bernie’s delay in releasing his taxes, insisting he is hiding something (but Trump, apparently, is not), and later, suggests he’ll face withering judgment on his “lifestyle,“
- the Chicago Tribune attacks Bernie for self-inflicting failure by his “humorless dogmatism” (apparently this moronic editorialist believes Trump’s rally jokes are actually entertaining–does righteousness necessitate comedy now?),
- Fox News sophisticates, proposing greed and hoarding while fanning themselves with 1950s cartoon brochures on communism and socialism, declare Bernie a Palpatine Trojan Horse (their clever argument goes like this : totalitarianism doesn’t work, so therefore government planning in the economy won’t work, even though the very technology these idiots are using to disseminate their shill drivel derives from heavy-duty government intervention in the economy),
- Reverend Moon’s brainchild, not unexpectedly, slinks to playground name-calling, attacking Hillary and Bernie as a “bickering old couple,”
- the UK’s Express attains an apoplectic climax in revealing that a few celebrity supporters of Bernie criticized him for his expression of support to the people of Venezuela, conflating, somehow in their magical anti-Bernie thinking, that these celebrities constitute the whole of Bernie’s base (incidentally, they aren’t the only editorialists comically confusing one famous person or a few politicians for all of Bernie’s supporters combined–is basic arithmetic not important in journalism school?), and
- NPR, like many other outlets, incorrectly argues that Bernie’s supposed unpopularity with non-whites can cripple his chances of victory, an artifact of southeastern primaries in 2016 occurring long before a Trump-drunk media circus happened to notice Bernie’s incredible popularity.
What I wrote above exposes my own frustration with the lone voice of near reason in Washington, the Democratic party. The Republican party long ago abandoned any pretense of being taken seriously, demonstrated by their slavish, totalitarian policy positions, along with their near unanimous defense of quite possibly the most immoral person to every occupy the White House. The opposition party, by contrast, complains heavily but does little to nothing. What I wrote above may make me sound very much like these charlatans, and perhaps I am. Yet I understand that it isn’t enough to disagree and complain–it’s important to sketch a winning strategy, and try implementing it. I believe that strategy can be Bernie.
Why Bernie in 2016?
During the early primary season ahead of the 2016 election, I learned more and more about Bernie, even attending, albeit reluctantly, my first (and so far only) political rally. In August 2015, ten thousand people squeezed into a large sports arena on the campus of the University of Washington. Though the rally itself underscored why I don’t care for them (uncomfortable seating, eternal waiting times, and a long parade of characters in the introduction component of the program), I nonetheless perceived a clear-eyed candidate, one articulating positions very near to my own; this normally wouldn’t be enough, as Obama had nice things to say but succumbed to frustrating policy dependencies on the big banks and other corporate sectors. Bernie, by contrast, refused to take PAC and corporate money, relying solely on small individual contributions. For the first time in my life, I donated the maximum amount of money to a candidate, noting that finally we might have an electoral prospect ready to upend Mark Hanna’s inviolable postulate that any serious candidate must rely on corporations to win. Bernie not only came within whiskers of nabbing the nomination, he did so without media support. In fact, had the DNC not sabotaged his campaign, we might have President Sanders today. The DNC won’t have so easy a go this time.
Why Bernie in 2020?
Suffice it to say, when Bernie tossed his hat into the ring some weeks ago, I was instantly elated. He’s now nationally known, he’s consistently polled, as of late 2018, to be the most trusted politician in America. He understands clearly, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized during the Great Depression, that popular pressure is the only means of asserting democratic control in the state sector. That is to say, no president, senator, or representative will give us, the population, anything without a fight. FDR was sympathetic to the working class, but he still had to press the labor movements to demand action. I really believe that this feature, above all, can lead to political victory. Nothing is a gift from on high. For instance, when I’m asked about the pitfalls of nationalized health insurance, arguing with flaws in Britain and Canada’s respective programs, I remind folks, as did FDR with respect to economic justice, that no positive policy outcome is free; we have to work at it, and that means demanding justice of all kinds, asserting real citizenship. That’s ours for the taking. America’s is a remarkably free society. Though there are costs to fighting injustice, we probably won’t be beheaded.
Labels versus Commonsense
As mentioned in the above exhaust(ive/ing) list of editorials (if you can dignify them with such an esteemed name), Bernie’s age, whiteness, and stridently conferred labels comes up frequently; even the so-called liberal media apparently believes old people ought be tossed on a desolate iceberg to die. He’s too white, too male, too straight, despite the fact that he, a septuagenarian, single-handedly dragged the policy centroid of the Democratic party closer to that terrifying, scorched-earth leftist extreme of, woe be to us, every other industrial nation on earth. Wonks for Hillary and Obama, following the black man and the white woman, decried Bernie as too far left in demanding infeasible policy objectives, despite Medicare for All polling well, fitting comfortably into infrastructure readiness, and benefiting from serious scholarship on how to implement it while protecting medical professionals; one need only skim the PNHP FAQ for details. Hence, my title for this opinion piece–Bernie is the reason that Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg mostly agree on nationalized health insurance and free higher education. Why, after greatly broadening the party platform, ought he step aside? The Week seems to agree with me on this. The New York Times carried an opinion piece comparing Bernie to Reagan with respect to historical examples; though I would prefer not comparing Bernie to a president responsible for mass murder in Central America, I understand his aim in describing possible public perception.
And what of nationalization of industry? Is that a policy extreme? Though vilified by analysts above, it has been an economic reality literally for decades. Gigantic multinationals simply would cease to exist were it not for extensive government intervention in the economy. Is economic and healthcare justice far left, whatever that means? Noam Chomsky, referenced by Alternet, has repeatedly argued that Bernie’s policy positions are really mainstream, as Eisenhower himself suggested that any opposition to the New Deal would be so extreme as having no place in political discourse. The Atlantic argues similarly.
And often I read that Bernie having not been a Democrat for most of his career ought disqualify him from the nomination. I’m uncertain whether I’ve ever heard a claim so indescribably stupid when it comes to our political ecosystem, and therefore will only comment that even religions, mostly, admit outsiders who want to join. The point is that political labels are completely vacuous.
Objective : Electability and Commonsense
Bernie is well-liked, unconstrained by private power, and capable of incredible fundraising thanks to his now international recognition. He also has courted fans of Fox News, appearing in a town hall hosted by them and on many of their news programs. This spells electability. Does Bernie offer commonsense solutions to today’s problems? Well, commonsense knows no political philosophy. Catastrophic ecological disaster and nuclear omnicide (something I’ll discuss in my book review of Ellsberg’s The Doomsday Machine) are the greatest threats to the species since we emerged some three hundred thousand years ago. Trump places brown children in cages, declaring a national emergency at the border. Despite his own departments acknowledging the dangers of climate change, he catapults us closer to the cliff. This should be the national emergency, one Bernie understands. We can salvage our future by selecting a sane, compassionate person for the most powerful office of the world. How? Start talking. Citizenship is not a status–it’s a job.