Will “The Bern” Cool Down?
The doomsayers who have been counting Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic primary race all along are doing it again. The pundits are asking, “what’s next?”
There’s no “next” until Senator Sanders concedes the primary race, and he’s not conceding. But even if he did, would he go the way of previous candidates, including President Obama, who said they would keep the movement alive, but didn’t? The answer is no.
Sanders has already started picking down-ballot races to boost, even as far down the ballot as some state legislators. Some of his supporters are already working on a movement called “Brand New Congress” to carry the momentum for progress forward whether it’s in the presidential race or anywhere else.
Is Bernie Pure Enough?
Of course, there are activists who never actually supported Bernie and still don’t. He wasn’t pure enough for them. For some people, if V.I. Lenin’s stuffed body doesn’t reanimate and walk out of the Kremlin to lead them, nobody is good enough.
Those people don’t see all of politics as processes. Nothing stays the same, everything is changing. The Bernie Sanders campaign has already, and still is, moving America and the world toward real change. It’s true that he’s a social democrat and by definition not a revolutionary. It’s true that his program of electoral reform and restraining Wall Street wouldn’t, by itself, result in permanent gains. The workers will never make permanent gains as long as the bosses are in power, and Senator Sanders has only said he wants to restrain them, not dis-empower them.
But he has started and amplified a wonderful trend in American politics!
Look What’s Already Been Accomplished!
Millions of Americans have realized that the two-party system, neither half of it, is really democratic. Millions have become conscious of the amazing power that big money exerts over the electoral system. Millions have begun seeking real solutions, and I don’t mean they were sitting in their easy chairs and daydreaming about it. Millions are in movement! Millions are experimenting. Millions are working together. That’s amazing accomplishment!
This movement is going to continue. The youth of America, already smarter and more capable than the rest of us, are taking this movement forward. This isn’t a flash-in-the-pan new trick like the Occupy movement. This is millions of young people joining together to seek fundamental change. They don’t even need the older Americans. They don’t even need Bernie. If they needed to, they could just outlast us older people. But they don’t need to, and they won’t.
The movement identified today with the Bernie Sanders election campaign is going to go on far beyond electoral politics, and it’s going to win!
Pingback: Labor’s Next Giant Step Is a Workers Party | genelantz
I enjoyed reading this piece on Sanders’ movement and accomplishments during this electoral cycle. I will admit that I am one of those who never felt the “Bern,” though I have certainly *been burned* by his supporters in a number of online forums. I’ve lost friends during the process and sadly acquired new social media enemies. This has been a tough primary for some of us on the left end of the political spectrum. Without discussing the merits or political views of either candidate, I would like to make just a couple of observations.
One thing that has bothered me has been my inability to articulate, even for myself, why the possibility of Sanders wining the nomination filled me with a sense of dread rather than hope and inspiration. Obviously, he was saying the right things, hitting the right notes: income inequality, breaking up the banks, affordable secondary education, single-payer healthcare, etc. I just had no reason to believe that a man of relative integrity compared to the rest of his ilk was likely to be very effective as a change agent. I mean, let’s face it, Vermont is hardly a bastion of revolutionary triumphs. But I’m not certain that Clinton will be any more effective than President Obama has been, as she will be facing the always entrenched and self-serving interests of the extreme right. Same as it ever was.
So my point – what I think I’ve had trouble explaining to anyone who cared – is that any gains we hope to see in a worker’s movement will not come from the top down, at least that is this writer’s humble opinion. And on that point, I think we absolutely agree and why I appreciate your writing here. The movement has always been intended to grow from the bottom up and not the other way around.
I support Clinton because I am all about another fight, the fight for equity and justice for women. Perhaps this is not the popular worker’s struggle d’jour, but as you know the struggle for women’s rights is still a worker’s fight to be sure. Without equality for women there can be no successful or worthy peoples’ revolution.
As you have correctly point out, the young workers today will go on to fight the struggle without the rest of us. They will fight in their workplaces and with every ballot they cast, not just those for president, but for all seats of government. And yes, Bernie Sanders’ heroic and remarkable efforts have helped to reinvigorate a new generation, and for that, I am hopeful and inspired.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. The fight for women’s rights is certainly part of the democratic struggle for all workers rights. However, it’s not generally worker-led. The same thing is true of a lot of important democratic struggles that tend to cross class lines. Women’s oppression began with capitalism and will end with it. To accomplish that, we have to fight on every possible front! –genelantz
LikeLiked by 1 person