RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

McKibben writes: "A leader is someone who figures out where the future is going, not someone who joins the party once it's underway."

Bernie Sanders shakes hands with supporters during a rally at Hec Ed Pavilion that drew an estimated 15,000 people to the University of Washington. The rally filled the arena and left thousands outside. (photo: Joshua Trujillo/seattlepi.com)
Bernie Sanders shakes hands with supporters during a rally at Hec Ed Pavilion that drew an estimated 15,000 people to the University of Washington. The rally filled the arena and left thousands outside. (photo: Joshua Trujillo/seattlepi.com)


Bernie Sanders Refuses to Melt

By Bill McKibben, Reader Supported News

27 January 16

 

ernie Sanders keeps refusing to run the way that the pundits think he should -- that's what makes this primary so interesting and perhaps a turning point in American politics.

You could see it last night in the Democratic town hall. Before they let, you know, sensible people ask questions, there was CNN moderator Chris Cuomo. Cuomo, of course, wanted to know if Bernie Sanders was going to "bring back the era of big government." This is exactly the kind of frame that pundits have been trying to put on American politics for about as long as I can remember, which is at least back to the Carter era.

This question is supposed to be a kind of kryptonite that causes Democratic politicians to sweat and turn pallid and immediately explain that no, they're for efficient government or some such. It's the kind of question that turned Bill Clinton into a triangulating centrist who cut welfare to the bone and elevated corporate power with a series of disastrous trade agreements. Everyone in Washington knows that "big government" is always bad.

But Bernie wasted no time in saying that he was going to bring back the era when government helped care for people. He thinks government should help people go to college and pay for their medical care, which is what big government does in every other industrialized country in the world. He even -- in an ad released earlier in the day -- dared to advocate that people who have spent their lives working might deserve the chance to relax and be grandparents at the end of the day.

This kind of stuff makes the keepers of our political order crazy. In the last few days, we've seen folks such as Paul Krugman in the New York Times and Paul Starr in Politico patiently explain that Bernie is too far to the left to be president. It's like they're dumping water on the Wicked Witch of the West and waiting for her to shriek, "I'm melting!" But actually, he's just shrugging it off, like a duck. As Cuomo tried to get him to confess to his socialism, his team just tweeted out a list of "socialist" accomplishments: Social Security, the minimum wage, Medicare, the 40-hour workweek.

The Beltway polls don't quite get how much America has changed -- how unequal and desperate it's become. Sanders has spent his career on the back roads of Vermont, which is America's second-most rural state. That means he's met a lot of poor people and a lot of desperate people -- a lot of people like the woman who started crying at his event in Iowa earlier in the day. The Washington Post reporter described it as "a remarkably moving thing," which it was. But since Post political reporters only meet actual people during those rare moments in a four-year cycle when they happen to intersect with presidential candidates, he perhaps imagined it as rare. This is what life is like.

Which is probably why actual people are also less worried about the other half of the "serious people" test imposed by pundits. Cuomo's next question for Sanders was about if Hillary's experience trumps his. This was pretty much the same question Hillary herself posed to Barack Obama with her infamous "3 a.m." ad eight years ago. In the D.C. world, "experience" is crucial. It doesn't matter what you believe -- it matters how much power you've exercised. Do your time, and you're in the club.

But again Bernie refused to melt. Yes, he said, she's very experienced -- an obvious concession made with the graciousness that's marked his campaign. ("People are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.") But, hey, experience isn't everything. If it was, we'd elect Dick Cheney to every possible office, because he's had the most experience of all. Instead, as Bernie pointed out, judgment is really more important.

That is why, he added, it is relevant that he opposed the Iraq War when she supported it. And he opposed the Keystone pipeline when she supported it. He could have gone on for a long time with that list: why did she set up a wing of the State Department to spread fracking around the planet, for instance? Why was she against gay marriage for years? But the point is clear. A leader is someone who figures out where the future is going, not someone who joins the party once it's underway. A canny politician, by contrast, is precisely someone who waits until it's safe and then runs up to lead the parade.

If it was a year for canny politicians, then Hillary would be a shoo-in. She's spent decades perfecting that approach.

But it's not, perhaps, a year for canny politicians. Our Earth is becoming hopelessly unequal (a report last week showed that 62 people owned more assets than the poorest 3.5 billion on the planet) and hopelessly hot. It's a year, perhaps, for people who insist on telling the truth, even if it's in a Brooklyn accent.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+87 # rolliesmith 2016-01-27 10:32
Good article. But I do not ascribe to getting on to where the future is going. I ascribe to organizing to create the future we want. I trust that is what we are doing with Bernie.
 
 
+43 # HowardMH 2016-01-27 12:04
Hillary is a creature of Wall St. Did you see the donation chart that Rachel showed on her program last night. Hillary donations $6.2 Million from Wall Street, $118 Thousand from Iowa. At one of her recent BS Session in Iowa she told the people, get out there and vote for me and I will work for you every day. Sure she will $6.2 M = Wall Street, $118K = Iowa -- such a touch decision as to who she will support.

GO BURNIE GO, MAKE THEM ALL FEEL THE BURN!!!
 
 
+36 # reiverpacific 2016-01-27 12:18
Quoting HowardMH:
Hillary is a creature of Wall St. Did you see the donation chart that Rachel showed on her program last night. Hillary donations $6.2 Million from Wall Street, $118 Thousand from Iowa. At one of her recent BS Session in Iowa she told the people, get out there and vote for me and I will work for you every day. Sure she will $6.2 M = Wall Street, $118K = Iowa -- such a touch decision as to who she will support.

GO BURNIE GO, MAKE THEM ALL FEEL THE BURN!!!


HC is hardly unique -even among the current crop of predominantly Blue-Dawg DemPublicans.
Nancy Pelosi herself passed the $100,000,000 mark early last year.
There was an interesting video from somebody on the same flight as Bernie showing him flying COACH fer Gawd's sake.
Boy, he's a better man than me -I'm glad my frequent flying days are mostly over, the way "coach" passengers are treated anymore.
A nice statement to rub into the smiling fizogs of those in both parties who are more used to being shuttled around in corporate donor's Lear Jets!
 
 
+98 # danireland46 2016-01-27 10:45
Bernie was far and away the star of the town hall meeting in Iowa. I was a Sanders volunteer in St. Paul last night where Bernie was greeted by over 20,000 enthusiastic supporters who waited hours just to see, hear and experience the spirit of revolution Bernie conveys.
I'm from the first year of Baby Boomers, and there were lots of people my age there but the majority were Millennials, and their energy was palpable. I have a good feel about this movement. I'd hoped Obama's audacious hopefulness was sincere - it wasn't. But Bernie's been saying the same progressive message for years and I BELIEVE HIM! So do the kids - Go Bernie Go.!
 
 
+58 # michigan002 2016-01-27 11:41
I'm also from the first year of the baby boomers and a huge Sanders supporter. I was also a huge Obama supporter 8 years ago but very disappointed in the subsequent results--or lack thereof. Feelin' the bern!
 
 
0 # Capn Canard 2016-01-27 13:41
Any idea if the Mlps Strib has endorsed HRC or Sanders?
 
 
+34 # mh1224jst 2016-01-27 14:39
Quoting danireland46:

I'm from the first year of Baby Boomers, and there were lots of people my age there but the majority were Millennials, and their energy was palpable. I have a good feel about this movement. I'd hoped Obama's audacious hopefulness was sincere - it wasn't. But Bernie's been saying the same progressive message for years and I BELIEVE HIM! So do the kids - Go Bernie Go.!

I'm your age, and I see the situation the same way. The establishment, quite simply, is composed of and serves wealthy interests. HRC can't legitimately claim to represent real people when she works for them. In addition, no one, as yet, fully understands the damage inequality has done, but we baby boomers know how much things have changed, and the Millennials know something is desperately wrong.When we were in college, we had more money, and colleges had more government support. Education was affordable.
This is an excellent article!
 
 
+4 # MidwestTom 2016-01-27 16:10
I am of the same age bracket, and have had the honor of being elected to a major public university board, serving a three year term a decade ago. When I was in college my tuition was roughly $1800 per year, and my room and board about $1200. I earned most of that during the summer and working on weekends.

However, there are many factors pushing costs higher, some of which are the following: competing with well endowed Private Universities for Name faculty (now paying $140,000 per year for teaching 2 classes in some cases), construction cost (trippled since '72, when we left the gold standard; competition for the 'best' dorms and classrooms (my dorm room has concrete block walls and 20 guys shared one bathroom with showers. (now all new dorms have upscale hotel quality private or semi-private rooms with carpet.

The board experience is why I have questioned Bernie's call for free college education without him giving any explanation as to how it might work. My fear is that without marketplace restraint the cost of college, while free to the students, will skyrocket for tax payers under government control.

To offset college costs most major state colleges have initiated big fund raising drives, with usually half of the money going into the schools's foundation for scholarship support.
 
 
+36 # economagic 2016-01-27 10:57
To belabor the obvious and often-cited, the reason beltway insiders don't get it is that they are even more insulated from the public than they were a century ago when Mark Twain referred to Congress ad "America's only native criminal class." They are indeed in the club.

But as McKibben says and hopes, this may NOT be a year for "canny politicians" (canypolism?).
 
 
+14 # jdd 2016-01-27 11:02
What the author describes as "graciousness" is actually an inability or refusal to go in for the kill when Bernie prevented the other candidates from ganging up on Hillary to demand some straight talk about her handling of classified information in the form of her emails. The real issue behind this handling of classified information is that Hillary was one of the prime movers and organizers of the catastrophic series of destabilization s now known among as the Arab Spring. Hillary was running the Arab spring when it started in Tunisia, when it broke out in Egypt and toppled the elected President Mubarak, and when it spread to Libya, including with the murder of Colonel Qaddafi. There is every reason to believe that Hillary personally supervised the transfer of thousands of jihadi butchers from Libya to Turkey, and on to Syria, as a means of ramping up the Syrian civil war. Voters have the right to know the full details of her complicity. As for her "experience." That is was her extreme warmongering during her disastrous tenure as Secretary of State. We can only hope that she is defeated in Iowa and New Hampshire. If she wins Iowa and New Hampshire, she will then be on her way to coronation and the end of all debate and discussion within the Party.
 
 
+25 # DaveEwoldt 2016-01-27 11:44
Sorry, jdd, but the mindset of going in for the kill is one of the factors that has gotten the world in the sorry state it's in. It seems to me that what we're witnessing in social movements today is that people are sick and tired of it.

I agree with the rest of what you're saying, but there are other ways to raise awareness of Hillary's activities that border on criminal.
 
 
+1 # jdd 2016-01-27 13:39
Sorry Dave, but one has to be tougher if one intends to take on Wall Street. Ruthlessness against evil is NOT what "has gotten the world in the sorry state it's in." Compromise and "going along to get along" has. You are confusing truth with "mudslinging." Hillary was expecting a coronation and not a serious debate on policy, character or honesty.She has gotten this far because of a free ride by the MSM, but don't expect Trump to do the same.
 
 
+7 # DaveEwoldt 2016-01-27 21:19
I don't think one must be tough, but firm. Unrelenting. And having the truth on your side is a big help.

But, perhaps it's just a semantic issue.

As you say, there is no need to go into this believing that compromise is necessary. The story is changing, and it's time to stop using many of the old methods, including how we frame things.
 
 
+28 # tswhiskers 2016-01-27 11:10
Keep on shrugging, Bernie. I missed the town hall meeting but I'm very glad Bernie was typically himself. Obviously the media STILL haven't made the adjustment to Bernie's man-of-the-peop le kind of politician. Equally obvious is the fact that reporters and pundits don't see enough of the people who live and work paycheck to paycheck. If they did see more of them perhaps they would respect Bernie more as a candidate rather than thinking that the American public has lost its mind and get over their "what the hell is goin' on here" attitude. Now I hear comments to the effect that the Reps. can't wait to call him a Communist, and Trump can't wait to debate him. More seriously, I've recently read on Greg Palast's website that the Reps. have lots of dirty hacking tricks ready for election day this year. This year it seems that not only will the politics be hilarious, but the media will be equally a part of the circus.
 
 
+29 # wrknight 2016-01-27 11:48
It's also obvious that the reporters are paid by their MSM masters to make Bernie look bad in the eyes of readers. And it's obvious from his responses that Bernie's intellectual prowess far exceeds those of his tormentors.

You have to admire anyone who is bright enough and quick enough to put down those self inflated fools who claim to report the "news" for MSM.
 
 
+27 # laurele 2016-01-27 11:22
"In the D.C. world, 'experience' is crucial. It doesn't matter what you believe -- it matters how much power you've exercised. Do your time, and you're in the club."

Hillary and the Washington establishment definitely need to do some hard time--but not in public office.
 
 
+43 # reo100 2016-01-27 11:30
We must all realize that Bernie Sanders is our way of taking back our Country, our values and our prosperity. He will not make the necessary changes, but rather be our catalyst. Each one of us must take responsibility to fight the establishment and the 1% each day leading up to elections and every day afterwards. We cannot prevail in this revolution without becoming involved at the state and local level. Bernie cannot accomplish this without our commitment.
FEEL THE BERN!
 
 
+6 # Capn Canard 2016-01-27 13:44
Just keep fighting until long after the election is over. I believe it is quite likely that we may have to march in the streets to force congress and Sanders both to keep their eyes on the ball. If they fail, we will need to make them pay.
 
 
+13 # jdd 2016-01-27 17:45
Obama, who has continued almost all of Bush's policies plus added a few bad ones of his own, has been given a free ride on the backs of a demoralized Democratic Party.The first task is to see that his flunky, the Wall Street Warmonger, Hillary is dumped.
 
 
+30 # wrknight 2016-01-27 11:36
"CNN moderator Chris Cuomo, of course, wanted to know if Bernie Sanders was going to 'bring back the era of big government.'"

Now the question is, does Chris Cuomo have any idea how one measures the size of government? How big is it? That's truly a dumb question if you have no means for measuring it physically or intellectually.

There is no way to measure the size of government physically. About the only way to measure its size is by how much money it spends, because all that money goes to people (yes, even the paper, pencils and aircraft carriers are produced by people who get paid), so the more money it spends, the more people it employs either directly or indirectly.

Using government expenditures as a measure of its size, one finds that the greatest increases in government size outside of WWII came during the Reagan and Baby Bush administrations . Using the same measure, the size of government has remained about constant in the Obama administration, but probably would have fallen had it not been for the legacy of Baby Bush's fiscal policies and spending commitments.

So people like Chris Cuomo have no idea what they are talking about and the stupidity of the question should be obvious to everyone.
 
 
+12 # jdd 2016-01-27 13:49
The American economy was founded on the Hamiltonian principle of "big government,impl emented by the Washington administration and opposed by Jefferson and the Southern slaveholders who wanted no interference by the Federal Government into their "way of life" (slavery). Since then so called "big-government " has been most closely associated with Lincoln and FDR - our two greatest presidents. States' rights, smaller government, etc, etc is always has been and has been a thing of the South and the right-wing.
 
 
+29 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-27 11:36
Upton St. Clair ran for gov of Calif as socialist. Hollywood, media crucified him when it began to look like he would win. He did well, triggered events that helped progressivism for decades. Bernie has already risen past Eugene McCarthy (Go Clean for Gene!) and rivals George McGovern. Sanders has already earned a place in the Progressive Pantheon. But his toughest days are still ahead of him. I hear the knives being sharpened. Bernie's SUPPORTERS will be put to the test. I hope they're in for the long haul, over terribly bumpy, dangerous roads. Their success will bring avalanches down on them. Get Prepared.
 
 
+14 # virtualaudio 2016-01-27 14:03
The basic methodology of the Sanders campaign is to mobilize people, not just to get him elected, but to help get things done that the majority of Americans want, but congress refuses to even bring to the floor for a vote (see Sanders Interview: http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/34754-focus-bernie-sanders-how-ill-win-the-white-house ).
I believe they (and I) are in it for the long haul. If not, Sanders will lose and we will face more corporatism posing as incrementalism, or worse.
I also believe that, with the republican party melting down, this is the best chance to revive, renew and advance the social gains made by FDR (and JFK / LBJ) in light of modern problems faced by US and the world.
Last, I suspect is HRC gets nominated, the Dems will look like the repubs in 4 - 8 years, regardless of the outcome of the general election - i.e. meltdown.
 
 
+23 # wrknight 2016-01-27 11:43
"As Cuomo tried to get him to confess to his socialism, his team just tweeted out a list of "socialist" accomplishments : Social Security, the minimum wage, Medicare, the 40-hour workweek."

And public roads, public schools, public parks, public libraries, and on and on and on.
 
 
+34 # Promoting Peace 2016-01-27 11:46
The irony is that the people who have the most fantastic "socialized" health care in the entire world, as in Congress, who has unlimited health care for the rest of their lives, are the ones who are hell-bent on keeping anyone else from having even "reasonable" health care!
 
 
+20 # photojack53 2016-01-27 11:58
Bernie is on a roll that I truly hope can't be stopped. He is the right man at the right time to fully recover our nation from the debacle of "Dubya" and the economic death spiral he left as his legacy.
DUMP TRUMP! He won't get my vote, EVER. That bloviating, self-aggrandizi ng, hypocritical media hound has one issue only that appeals to the most conservative GOP base, immigration. Bernie Sanders nails it on how screwed the GOP economic policies have been AND STILL ARE! Their economic policies have ruined our economy and elevated income disparity to its highest levels since the Robber Baron era. "Trickle down" economics has NEVER worked and NEVER will. WHEN WILL THEY LEARN? The progressive policies of Obama and the Democrats RECOVERED our economy DESPITE the overwhelming and UNCONSCIONABLE obstructionism from the EVIL GOP. Do you know who the only two presidents who REDUCED the federal deficit in the last 50 years were? Bill Clinton and Barack Obama! AND THIS IS SOMETHING THE HYPOCRITICAL, DECEPTIVE GOP CAMPAIGNS ON!
Add to this, the GOP "War on Women", their "War on Science", their IMMORAL voter suppression efforts, the inane and insane climate science denial, their STILL having an anti-marriage equality plank in their official party platform, their coddling their dirty oil and coal contributors and lobbyists AT THE EXPENSE OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY!
NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN IF YOU VALUE AMERICA OR OUR FUTURE!
 
 
+21 # Promoting Peace 2016-01-27 12:00
Oh, how great it would be if our country has the good fortune to have Bernie as our President.

Sadly, that would only be the beginning to a hopefully major transformation of our government, diminishing the corruption, greed, stupidity, etc., and increasing the wisdom, compassion and sanity.

We also somehow need much more Congressional support for it to truly work.
 
 
+23 # reiverpacific 2016-01-27 12:21
"The Beltway polls don't quite get how much America has changed -- how unequal and desperate it's become." (quote).
No shit; that's CONSTANTLY demonstrated by the out of touch politicians, their corporate lobbyist bag-carriers and the suck-up pundits, economists and the owner-media!
 
 
+5 # PaulK 2016-01-27 21:46
"As Cuomo tried to get him to confess to his socialism, his team just tweeted out a list of "socialist" accomplishments : Social Security, the minimum wage, Medicare, the 40-hour workweek."

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union..." begins the overtly socialist preamble of the U.S. Constitution. By this document, ordinary people now claim the previously divine right of European kings to rebel against another king, to raise an army and to possess land. When slaves rebel against their masters they are stealing property, themselves, from their masters.

Free public education, a United States invention probably going back to Rehoboth, Massachusetts and Slatersville, Rhode Island, is an overtly socialist concept.
 
 
+1 # PaulK 2016-01-27 21:55
No, Wikipedia says that Dedham, Massachusetts won the public education award in 1644.
 
 
+1 # PaulK 2016-01-27 21:58
Rehoboth was the first to provide public education for all children in the community.
 
 
+2 # BoomerZoomer 2016-01-28 10:37
I wish that Bernie would have responded: "Who in his or her right mind doesn't realize that we have big government now?
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN