Bernie Sanders – his name is said in awe – he is the “trusted grandpa” – my niece’s description. I liked Bernie Sanders. I knew him before he was running for president. I liked the way he pushed, I liked his policies, he was independent, he was progressive, he was a voice. I didn’t know then what I know now – he railed but he hadn’t produced and not just in the last few years in the “do nothing congress”. He wasn’t popular with his colleagues. He didn’t fight for people – he fought for his causes.
Now I can barely watch him, mostly I turn him off, or tune him out, but when I do watch to see if he has learned anything, if he’s changed his message, added anything I’m always disappointed. His message hasn’t changed at all. It sounds good on the surface, it’s a great message but the diagnosis is wrong.
Breaking up the big banks might feel right, it might even feel good, after what they did to the country, the world, but it’s not going to solve anything. It’s not the real problem, just as repealing Citizen’s United, is important but it won’t solve the real problem either.
The detested bailout of the banks was painful, it was a lot of money that went to “wall street” when main street was really hurting. The action was so hated in the short term that it will probably be a generation before it is publicly accepted that the bailout was repaid in full and at a profit. In other words, it’s not the problem.
Citizen’s united allowed and so highlights the role of “big money” in our political process. It’s awful, we need to change it, but it also doesn’t show the full picture. If those groups were able to buy the presidency, President Obama either wouldn’t be President or he would have done everything that big money wanted him to do and might not be so hated by the right wing.
These are symptoms – it feels good to rail against them – like a good cold medicine fixing them would make us all feel better but they don’t get rid of the cold.
The “oligarchs” that Bernie occasionally mentions but doesn’t focus on are part of the cold – not just in the money they pour into an election but in the “model legislation” that they help develop and push in state elections and governing. The way that they encourage the disintegration of the voting rights act through the “prevention of voters fraud” that just doesn’t happen. They gerrymander districts to consolidate the will of the majority so that it is subsumed by the minority who has been enabled and made afraid that “their values” and their rights are in danger. Bernie doesn’t have a solution to these, just as he doesn’t have a way to realize any of his vision.
Revolution sounds good – it feeds into the fear and disinformation that are everywhere but Bernie doesn’t have a cure for the cold. His first answer to how he will make things happen – he’ll tell Mitch McConnel to look out his window to the million people out there. What does that mean? He’s not going to get people to come to DC on every issue, in reality he’s not going to get people calling congress every day on every issue. He may mean it metaphorically – that he will have won the presidency so he’ll have the moral authority, the voters mandate and maybe he thinks because he’s white it will work. I don’t see it happening.
Bernie isn’t supporting, with his non-everything money, the democrats running with him. He doesn’t like the party. He talks about the 50 state solution – the right prescription – but he never talks about how we get there.
Hillary is more grounded. She understands the cold – her prescriptions are tougher – she knows that she has to work with the body, not just mask the symptoms, but she knows that just talking about the revolution isn’t the answer. Her answers aren’t as fun – the doctor never is, but her not sexy answers are more likely to lead to a cure by working with the system rather than against it.