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Vision and Reality in Bernie’s Revolution

“And the children swarmed to him like settlers. He became a land.” (Edward Lear, 1945)

A certain classic exposition on moral political thought holds that men acquire control and certainty about their world and their own existence through justice, and that humans’ knowledge of the world is inseparable from their own consciousness as human beings, constantly in battle with economic forces they barely understand. Sanders illuminates this ongoing struggle by highlighting the unresponsiveness on the part of our political leadership to the unacceptable levels of inequality and opportunity that cripple America’s middle class and poor. Senator Sanders’ campaign has generated great awareness and appreciation of his ideas and practical approach to the issues.

It is astonishing how the Sanders campaign is enlisting so much of America’s youth. Bernie’s vision of a new American political revolution — his pragmatic steadfastness on domestic issues — is the drawing card. Surely, much criticism of his foreign policy positions has been deserved, yet domestic- policy objectives and his idealism have attracted extraordinary support from America’s youth. Assuredly, young people are being radicalized by Bernie’s message of free tuition at all public colleges and universities and relief from the heavy monetary debts incurred during their education.

Sander’s detractors would have you believe that his ideas are pure fantasy and incapable of being realized. How conveniently they forget the ample historical examples of civil rights and labor struggles of the past, and how these struggles were successful in changing our political system. Many of Sanders’ ideals are reflections of those conflicts and are made manifest in his political thinking and public policy recommendations

In confronting the enormous concentration of wealth and power in America in fewer and fewer hands, Sanders has been emboldened to call for the regulation of capital that would allow government to carry out the following actions: monetary and tax policies to overcome the gross inequities of the current economy and the maintenance of full employment and social programs without fear of financial and industrial flight.

In the present political and economic reality, we know well control of government is narrowly concentrated at the peak of the income scale, while a large majority of the middle class and poor are virtually disenfranchised. That is the way it is, we are told, no further economic argument or evidence is adduced or considered necessary.

Senator Sanders’ call for political revolution encompasses many of the moral principles found in the grandest “idealist” themes in the history of political thought: Central to these ideals is the maxim that people — and not historical, political and economic structures — will ultimately determine the future.

As a modern formulation, young Americans understand that Sanders’ vision is one of a transformative ethos and polity that seeks to liberate all human beings from the economic circumstances that now imprison them. The seminal point is that economic exploitation denotes injustice and such exploitation is crushing human potential.

Senator Sanders’ call for a new American revolution articulates this “idea” that no historical state of affairs can ever be considered final. Essentially, there exists no monolithic economic reality (Milton Friedman’s free-market ideology) except the reality of change. However, as in the past, when challenged by popular rebellion, the very wealthy will increase capitalist control of investment, economic growth and the threat of industrial flight, all in the interest of crushing the rabble.

Overall, corporate control of production, distribution, investment, economic growth and its capacity for mobility (Sanders is emphatic on this point) does pose as effective and credible impediments to populist power. Even in a society that purports to be “an ideal democracy,” great wealth has a kind of veto power over public policy. For example, the power of the very rich to intervene in elections is clearly demonstrated in the vast super PAC contributions to the Clinton campaign.

Bernie’s moral and ethical universe and his demand for a transformative political culture beautifully express the positive thought that keenly understands the crucial and abiding truth of the visionary: that man is a dynamic rather than a static being. Again, that the revolutionary aspect of his idealism is that no historical state of affairs can ever be considered final, and there exists no monolithic reality. By focusing on the “would could be” rather than “what is” Sanders is producing in the body politic an idealistic fervor in the belief that the truth of democracy is an “idea” whose time has come. An idea to which reality will have to adjust itself.

Sadly, even as I write, the returns on the latest democratic primaries on this Super Tuesday clearly forecast that Hillary Clinton will become the Democratic presidential nominee. Alas, corporate media bias toward Clinton coupled with financial and corporate efforts to undermine the Sanders campaign, and the power of established party insiders have practically assured her nomination. It is hoped that the party will carry much of the Sanders’ revolutionary idealism and his resolution on the issues to the November democratic party convention. Nevertheless, the seed of a new vision for America has been firmly planted and only awaits another visionary to take up the hoe.

PS, March 29: It is quite evident that I was quite premature in writing Bernie Sanders’ obituary. In the words of Mark Twain “it was all greatly exaggerated..” I’m as ecstatic as other progressives at Bernie’s big comeback victories in Washington State, Alaska and Hawaii. I did not anticipate the larger and larger response of young people and American workers to Bernie’s call for a new American Revolution. There is a “fever” in the land for radical change in our political culture. The Sander’s blitzkrieg will continue into New York, California and our dystopic industrial wastelands. My biggest concerns are the power elite power brokers within the democratic party establishment and their fierce determination to maintain the political and economic status quo, an ideological objective that the Clinton campaign has come to represent. Bernie needs to keep hammering the point that Americans are fed up with business as usual, and radical changes must be made in the way we go about doing politics and economic in this country

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Andrew Raposa

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