So I’m gonna talk about the upcoming primary and election and a lot about Bernie Sanders.
First I want to put forth three examples/pieces of evidence related to the topic.
a) Robert Reich’s analysis of the last Democratic Debate. Specifically, Reich said the following:
“3. Hillary presented herself as an experienced politician who is prepared to assume the presidency, while Bernie presented himself as the leader of a political revolution. Both characterizations seem fair. If you assume Washington is not changeable and that the vicious cycle of wealth and power dominating our politics and economics is unalterable, Hillary’s experience is relevant; she will make a first-class president for the system we now have. But if you believe Washington must be changed, and that system can be altered for the benefit of the many and not the few, Bernie’s leadership is more relevant; he is heading up a political movement.”
That seems pretty spot on. Hillary is running as the establishment candidate while Bernie is running to shake things up.
b) I had a conversation on facebook with an old friend of mine. We grew up together, went to catholic grade school and public high school together in Evanston, IL–which is a liberal, but moderate and relatively well-off community north of Chicago. It does, however, have a long history of being a pretty diverse place.
In any case, my friend still lives near Evanston and works in Chicago. He’s relatively conservative in terms of politics–and voted for Romney (and probably McCain–although I don’t know that for sure..)–but he is smart, college-educated, works at a bank, and is socially liberal in terms of outlook in the grand scheme of things. From what I gather, he easily would have been a Republican 10, 20, or 40 years ago… (note–we’re both 43..)–but now thinks of himself as an independent.
As it stands–he had posted a comment on one of my posts. I had been forwarding an article about Bernie Sanders medicare for all plan–how he lays out the policy and the taxes for all to see. My friend had been responding to a sub-point I had about raising the gas tax, but we got back to talking about Bernie–about what he thought of Bernie–and this is what he said:
“I watched all of the debates. When it comes down to it this is what I am thinking…. as far as who would shake things up for the better here at home where we need it, Bernie, no question. I like single payer idea. I feel he is for the people. I am not anywhere near socialist, but I like him more than the others.”
This is what my independent, center-right, former Republican friend thinks. He likes Bernie BECAUSE he will shake things up. He’s also incredibly turned-off by Hillary–as he sees her as just the same as the establishment Republicans–corrupt and working for the interests of big money first.
c) Two days before that–on Saturday, I was at a Meinecke getting the oil changed on one of our cars–and as I was paying, I got into a political conversation with one of the attendants there. He had a rural/southern-ish accent–marking him as not from Madison proper–and perhaps not even from Wisconsin. In any case, he was telling me about the “rewards program” that would mean that I could get a free oil change after 4 times. He then said that it was “at least something–more than it was before” and he related it credit cards.
But then he noted, wryly even, “Yeah–those credit cards will give you 1% back.. ha!” and I said in response, “of course–but they charge 28%!” and he responded,
“Yeah.. It’s why the rich get richer and why we stay poor.”
And I then followed up, “Yawp–that’s why we gotta do something about this.”
In response, he slowly and cautiously said, “Yeah.. that’s why I’m leaning towards Bernie..”
And I said, “Yawp.. I’m a big bernie fan myself. We need to change things.”
And he smiled.
This is not some hippie liberal over-educated grad student supporting Bernie. This is a working-class, originally rural, mechanic who is picking up on Bernie’s message and found it appealing.
This is the evidence that I’ve noticed in the last week.
What does it say to me?
Well, it tells me that the narrative out there that Bernie Sanders is “too radical” for people is pure hogwash. Bernie may be too radical for those people who are strongly invested in the status quo, but this is a status quo that is currently not working for the majority of the populace. Median wages re not increasing–and they haven’t been for a long time. The economy has finally–after 7 years and repeated attempts to thwart it–gotten going–but it’s not roaring–and it won’t be until we see strong wage growth for the majority of the populace such that it generates naturally and widespread increases in demand for goods and services.
Bernie–as Robert Reich noted above–is the representative of a movement of political revolution–to bring back the values and economic ideas that governed this country in the 1950’s and 60’s–when we had the longest and most sustained economic growth in this country’s history. When taxes on higher incomes were FAR higher than they were today, when infrastructure spending came first rather than tax cuts, when unions and management worked together because the average worker and the average manager had similar salaries and something in common to work for.
Hillary–well–she’s what Reich says she is–an insider who will be able to work the currently corrupted system pretty well. She may even do some good while she’s there.
But she does not question the system and she will not challenge it fundamentally.
That’s not what we need at the moment, in my view. She is, I will readily concede, 1000x better than any of the Republican candidates who don’t have actual ideas on how to govern, but are totally into proving that they are way more angry than anyone else.
Compared to these tantrum throwing two-year olds, Hillary is an adult. But she’s not going to change the system.
Bernie is–and Bernie is showing that he CAN appeal to independents and working class folk who have been voting for the Republicans in the past, exactly because these people have been repulsed at how much the system has failed them.
They don’t want to stand in line for scraps anymore. They want justice too.