COMMENTARY: ￼“I figured out Bernie Sanders, I figured out what his appeal is. It’s not socialism. It’s morality… ￼Morality becomes a political device… He spoke more about what was moral and immoral than ￼anybody on the Republican platform… He’s speaking the language of a generation that does not have ￼God in their life anymore… You listen to how he spoke about capitalism and he talked about it being immoral.” — Glenn Beck
Here we have the conservative-libertarian commentator offering, perhaps inadvertently, a very insightful interpretation of what Bernie Sanders represents for America in the 21st Century.
Morality. Does it not inhere in the Pledge of Allegiance that we have uttered so many times in our lives that we long ago stopped apprehending its message?
￼￼“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
“Liberty and justice for all.” Does that not convey a moral message?
The Preamble to the Constitution summarizes the purpose of the document. Among other things, the reasons given are to “…establish Justice” and “…promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty.” All of them moral ideals.
The public is coming out in droves for Bernie Sanders. There is passion and urgency in the air related to his true progressive positions on economic and social justice. People are filling stadiums, marching in the streets, making millions of donations, spontaneously making music and videos and working phone banks from states all over the country into upcoming primary/caucus states to get out the vote.
And they are succeeding beyond the campaign’s wildest dreams. Not for nothing, as they say. Bernie is a big deal, the real deal. Sanders embodies authenticity, compassion and integrity, the hallmarks of morality. Glenn Beck is correct, Sanders’ appeal is morality.
However, he is incorrect when he calls morality a political device in Sanders’ hands. It is who he is! From the beginning, he reached out to the people, laid out the reality that he could not win nor succeed in implementing the needed reforms without an overwhelming mass movement at his side. He invited us to join him, and we did! Boy did we!
No such passion and excitement exists for Hillary Clinton. In a time of great and extended deprivation and need among the 99 percent, Hillary preaches go-slow, business-as-usual moderation. She is out of step with the real and serious needs of the people. She offers nothing in the way of the dramatic and rapid solutions that the situation calls for.
People are not marching to get Hillary elected, but a few are paying! Hillary does not fill arenas, she fills homes and small venues with rich people eager to give her money.
Clinton is a bright woman, an attorney, politically seasoned. It is not possible that she does not grasp the dire situation that millions of Americans have faced since 2008 and before. Then how can we interpret her disregarding us and the urgency of our circumstances? How does she justify using the same old, same old approach? Desperate times require desperate measures. Why does she not acknowledge that fact and act accordingly?
Frankly, it is immoral to see a need and not address it expeditiously, to merely pay lip service to it — especially when you, as president, are in a position to take action.
Progressives understand that Hillary’s primary motivation for her approach to governing is that she is part of the Democratic establishment, which, like the Republican establishment, is aligned with and beholden to monopoly capitalists. Like most presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Clinton would be a president whose first loyalty would not be to the American people, but to that donor class.
Presidential candidates are typically tools selected by the oligarchs to do their bidding. They did not select Bernie Sanders, however. His emergence as a serious challenger for the Democratic nomination is an aberration propelled by today’s zeitgeist. It is the lucky convergence of a revolutionary time and a revolutionary leader.
Bernie and our political revolution are not actually challenging Hillary. We are directly challenging the “billionaire class,” as Bernie calls them. Amazingly, all their money has failed to stop, or even slow down, the campaign. A campaign fueled by righteous people power. And I believe it is because of Bernie Sanders’ strong moral leadership, something utterly unique and hungered for in American presidential politics.
Without Bernie in the picture, Hillary would be standing alone before the people asking for their vote but not their input. Offering us crumbs when we need jobs and income. Talking like a hawk when we need peace. Offering half measures when black youth are needlessly dying in the streets at the hands of the police.
At any time in history, but especially in this time, for a presidential candidate to offer themselves as a leader of the nation while blatantly disregarding the significant needs of that nation is to be acting immorally. It is a bold, deceitful and arrogant act. It is a conscious decision to use the power given to him/her by the people indifferently at best, and against them at worst!
We all have observed Hillary “moving to the left” under pressure from Sanders’ populist calls. This is just Clinton being an opportunist. No progressive believes that she will hew to these new found positions once in office.
Most voters today have been raised under sellout administrations and neoliberal economics. They have no lived experience under progressive leadership to compare it to. They don’t know better, unless they have had reason or motivation to learn otherwise. Hillary offers the security of consistency, even predictability, which is comforting to many. She, herself, is familiar to them. Kind of like choosing to eat at a McDonalds because you never heard of the other place, even though the food is bad for you.
Boldness and a revolutionary analysis is what is called for in this time of slow economic recovery; shrinking budgets; cutbacks of essential public services; declining life expectancy for white, middle age men; crumbling infrastructure; and more. Bernie, even at 74, is bold, dynamic and gets it. He has been laser-focused his entire adult life on economic and social justice issues. He understands these matters deeply, which is what has enabled him to foresee the consequences of and oppose policy decisions that have had disastrous outcomes.
Bernie’s moral leadership and total commitment and focus on the wellbeing of the American people and our society is a great gift. Its value lies in accepting and using this gift now because if we fail to we will not see another for a long time.
Max Mastellone is a long-time activist, Las Cruces resident and supporter of Bernie Sanders for president.