COMMENTARY: As previous presidential election cycles have rolled around, many have recoiled at the choices that are presented to us. Rarely are they anything but tired old (or young) establishment hacks, retreads, tweedle dum, tweedle dee candidates who really present no choice at all.
To have even one authentic, honest, un-bought candidate is a fantasy never fulfilled because of collusion between Democrats and Republicans to only present us with candidates vetted and approved by their corporate masters.
Noam Chomsky has said that there is just one political party in this country, the “Business Party,” and it has two branches. Another commentator put it this way: “Republicans are a wholly owned subsidiary of the wealthy elite, the Democrats are rented.”
In any case, the meaningfulness of our votes has been seriously compromised by money in politics, put on steroids by Citizens United — by back-room deals among power brokers, by collaborative party rules that severely limit the participation of third-party candidates, and by the further collusion of the media monopoly in controlling the type and amount of information we are given about the candidates so that our impressions and opinions are shaped in a predetermined manner.
Americans have long been fed up with “politics” principally because our elected representatives do not represent us! Federal and state elections in our nation have become theater. The process lacks gravity and the outcomes really do not matter because, in almost every case, the winner will not stray too far from his/her corporate marching orders.
It actually serves the interests of the Koch Brothers, the Walton Family, the Wall Street banks and the cabal of multi-national corporations that comprise America’s ruling oligarchy that we are so frustrated and fed up with politics. They love the fact that so many of us are so turned off by the process that we lose interest, pay little attention and fail to vote.
In fact, to some degree they deliberately engineer our discouragement and rejection of the process because, of course, it gives them a freer hand. One example is the deliberate use of attack ads during campaigns. Those mounting such ugly ads know that the research shows negative advertising drives people away from the voting booths.
Authenticity, honesty, frankness and consistency
This time around we can stop grumbling. The candidate we have hoped for, the one who will really represent us is on hand. Authenticity, honesty, frankness and consistency are at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ core.
He is intelligent and politically savvy. With the exception of Lincoln and the two Roosevelts, previous presidents have been content with taking turns preserving the status quo unless the American people, standing up, forced them to make significant changes. A President Sanders would enter the White House with a plan to shake up the status quo for the benefit of the 99 percent, who have been left by their government to twist in the wind for the last 40 years!
Once Sen. Sanders of Vermont decided that he wanted to launch a serious run for the White House, as a lifelong independent he had to weigh the pros and cons of running as an independent or as a Democrat, the party with whom he caucuses in Congress. In the end, Sanders concluded that the liabilities of conducting a third-party campaign were simply too great. He would have no chance of competing with party candidates on an equal footing.
He was not intending to run a “protest” or “message” campaign. He is in it to win it. Consequently, he will be running in the Democratic primaries and caucuses and go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton.
Sanders is the exception in Congress. He is not a lawyer, nor a businessman, nor a millionaire.
Bernie is not switching party affiliation. He is not running as a Democrat. But he is also not running as a “spoiler;” that is, he does not want his candidacy to work in favor of the Republicans. To that end he has asserted that should he lose the primary, he will lend his support to the winner.
Sanders is a Democratic Socialist, a brand of socialism that pursues reform rather than revolution. Revolutionary socialists are, therefore, to the left of him and have been critical of his campaign. He is certainly not a Johnny-come-lately to progressive populist positions. He has held the same positions and supported the same pro-social and economic justice policies and causes since well before his first elective office in 1981.
Organize, mobilize and fight
Bernie is not running a typical presidential campaign; he views himself and us running together. He has been calling for a vast movement of Americans to organize, mobilize and fight, not just to put him in the White House, but to continue the momentum forward to power the program of progressive change he has laid out and, which polls consistently demonstrate, represents the views of the majority of citizens.
Thus, Sanders is neither fringe nor radical. Frankly, the Republican right-wing is by far the most radical force in politics. Clearly, the goal of a Sanders Administration is to institute a program of reforms, not the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system. Bernie believes that with us at his back we can succeed. I do as well.
In support of the Sanders notion of political revolution we may point to the important progressive social changes that have been achieved in recent years, some quite dramatic. Think of the advances in gay marriage, minimum wage and marijuana laws.
This progress was not initiated in Congress or in state legislatures. Social movements instigated by aggrieved citizens, who struggled sometimes for decades, championed and won these causes.
These are the movements that Sanders says are required if the program we share with him is to succeed.
Max Mastellone is a co-convener of Las Cruces for Bernie Sanders.