The Bernie Movement

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I’m not going to try and get into his mind because I don’t think there’s a whole lot of space there. I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”

“You saw those images last night. We’re going backward here. This is a frightening, grotesque, and disturbing development in American politics.”

Were the above quotes from the Tuesday night Democratic freakout debate attacking Bernie Sanders? Well, they certainly could have been. But actually, the first one was from none other than lead Donald Trump sycophant Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) during the 2016 campaign. The second quote, also from the 2016 campaign, was from fellow Trump boot-licker Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). My, how time flies.

Back then, if you remember, Trump was the reality TV show host attempting to win the Republican nomination for president of the United States. It was a crowded field, and nobody in their right mind believed he had any chance whatsoever of winning. We know what happened. Not only did he win the nomination, but he won the presidency outright, beating Hillary Clinton in what might have been the biggest upset in American political history. Ok, Russia helped, but you get the idea.

Many in the Republican establishment had similar quotes regarding Trump. “He’s a moron,” “He’ll get trounced by Hillary,” or “He’s unhinged.” Yeah, we heard them all. And most Democrats felt the same way. The American people wouldn’t vote for such an absolute disaster of a candidate. Hillary was far and away one of the most qualified candidates in recent memory. We had nothing to worry about.

But here we are. The nightmare that began on that fitful night on November 8, 2016, continues. Another election is quickly approaching. It’s do or die time for democracy. It’s the primary season, and the Democrats are in full-scale panic mode because the man leading the field is a 78-year-old Democratic socialist, who was just quoted on 60 Minutes praising the Castro regime in Cuba for having an excellent education and health care system.

Never mind that he qualified those remarks with an indictment of the regimes autocratic and dictatorial rule. The quote that the media and some of his Democratic rivals seized upon was his praise of Castro. Sometimes, context doesn’t matter—especially in today’s hyper-sensitive 24/7 news cycle.

But, and bear with me here, there’s a much broader point to what’s going on right now. Senator Bernie Sanders and the current president have something in common. No, it’s not their political views. Nor is it their personalities or lifestyles. It’s about the movement; as in, they both have one. Most of us disregarded Trump’s in 2016. Democrats would be wise not to do the same with Sanders.

Please keep in mind that I have some of the same concerns when it comes to a possible Bernie Sanders nomination. I too, wonder how he will appeal to voters in the middle or other disaffected former Trump voters. It’s a real concern, and I’m not endorsing him one way or the other. But folks, he can win. And here’s why.

Sanders’ main base of support comes from liberals, people with a lower standard of living, and young people. I know the concern about young voters. They traditionally do not vote with the same vigor as Trump’s older and whiter base of support. Seldom can you count on them to show up on a consistent basis.

But you know what? Things may be different this time around. Young people today don’t have the same kind of visceral response when they hear the word socialism. Many of them associate the word with Bernie himself, and that seems fine with them.

I think young folks today are seeing things in a much different light. They observe the world teetering towards a climate change disaster that may leave them to be the ones who have to deal with its most terrible effects. They know that some form of higher education is a must, especially if they want to have a decent chance at a good life in America. But they also see an education system that will leave them with thousands of dollars worth of debt—debt that will put their prospects for getting ahead, years into the future, if at all.

So Bernie says to them: “I’ve got your backs.” And he says it over and over. He’ll provide free education and health care. He’ll also enact a ‘green new deal’ which will immediately begin to attack the impending climate disaster that’s coming soon to a community near you. He gives them hope.

When I was fresh out of high school in 1979, both of my parents worked. They didn’t make a lot of money. We had a very modest house in a working-class neighborhood. But, they were able to pay for my college, own a couple of cars, and go on a decent vacation every year. The fact I didn’t take college seriously and blew my chance is another story for another day. The truth is, they were able to do it. How many families can do that today?

With the American dream now becoming more and more of a pipe dream for so many, is it any wonder these young people are latching on to someone who says he can make it better for them? It’s right to be skeptical of how we’d pay for everything. But Bernie’s supporters are saying, “Who cares?’ “We pay trillions for wars and give massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations. It’s time to start cutting a lot more slices into the proverbial American economic pie, so everyone has a shot.”

It’s a compelling argument. And the idea that a 78-year-old democratic socialist is generating this much enthusiasm ought to give the rest of America pause. Folks, something is happening out there in the real world. And we need to pay attention. Do not underestimate the will of an aggrieved group of people. Did we not learn anything from 2016?

Again, this is not an endorsement of Bernie Sanders for President. I still feel that Joe Biden is the best hope to defeat Donald Trump. But what do I know? Right up until election day in 2016, I thought Hillary was going to win. This year is still wide open, although on Super Tuesday, maybe we’ll have a better idea as to who our nominee is going to be. Maybe.

I know many of you out there are scared out of your mind that Trump will win again. I get that. But the idea that Bernie can’t win doesn’t add up, in my view. Because he’s got a movement, and never underestimate such a thing. Remember this: Reagan, Obama, and Trump were all leaders of a change election—and they all won.

There’s an old saying widely attributed to former President Richard Nixon, and it goes something like this: “When you have a candidate that’s trying to stop X, bet on X” Could Bernie be Mr. X?

48 comments

    1. Thank you Kim. We all need to get a grip. I know it’s tough because we all want to see you know who soundly defeated. But, I think it’s doable with all the candidates. Yes, even Bernie!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Kim. I’ll say this about Bernie…he does know how to take down Trump as well as any of the candidates. He’s very forceful….doesn’t mince words…If it is him that wins the nomination, he’ll do well in a toe to toe confrontation. He calls him a pathological liar etc….So, we’ll see. I’m concerned though, just as you are.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Kim, did it finally work? And thanks for the effort. I apologize if it didn’t work. WordPress!! Ughhhh….I’ll find out what’s up.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m not a big Sanders fan. But I do agree that he has a movement behind him. If the nomination process finishes up with that movement being convinced that Sanders was cheated out of the nomination, then Trump will surely win a second term.

    We need to avoid that.

    I’m not sure that Sanders can beat Trump. But then I’m also not sure that Biden or Bloomberg could beat Trump — particularly if the Democrats are bitterly divided.

    We need to do what we can to keep the nominating process scrupulously fair. And if Sanders wins, I’ll be supporting him.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Great points Neil. Yes, a brokered convention, with Bernie having the most delegates, but not reaching the 1991 needed, is not something we want to see. And, if they deny him the nomination, There would be a war within the party. Thing is, this is the process he wanted, and agreed to. But now he’s saying something totally different. We’ve got some real rough waters ahead Neil.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well-stated, Jeff. Like Neil, above, Bernie would not be my first choice–or even my second–but I’d vote for almost anyone over another four years of Trump. Shoot, give me Donald Duck over Donald Trump.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, you’re right Brendan. He does resonate with many of the white working class voters that Hillary failed to reach. I think I read that roughly 12% of Bernie supporters went over to Trump in 2016. Clearly, it helped him in those states. Hard to say how many of those voters still like Trump. But, Bernie could certainly get many of them back. That’s the hope, of course.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. If I’m not mistaken, Bernie voted against a ban on assault weapons some years ago, but no candidate has a perfect record, so that’s not necessarily a deal breaker for me. What does concern me is electability. No matter how enthusiastic Bernie’s base and “movement” are, it must be kept in mind that the election will be decided by the electoral college, not by the national vote count. At this point, I’m simply not convinced that Bernie can win the STATES he may need to win, such as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida. Organized labor may be a force in some states, but in enough states?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s certainly a concern mistermuse. The electoral college throws a wrench into everything. That’s how to win and that’s how to run a campaign, though. A handful of states determines who the winner is. To not run a campaign with that in mind will lead to certain defeat. Remains to be seen if Bernie can do it. Super Tuesday looms large for all the remaining candidates. We’ll know more very soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree.
        I might add that no matter how much Bernie’s supporters think enthusiasm will carry him to victory, there’s no dismissing that the stigma of “socialist” attached to (and embraced by) Bernie) would be a big drag on his chances in many states. Also, the fact that the Culinary Union workers in Nevada went big for Bernie doesn’t necessarily translate to other Labor unions, because most other Union’s members aren’t predominantly Bernie-friendly Latinos, and those Unions’ hard-fought-for health-care plans would be axed by Bernie’s Medicare-for-all program

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s a concern. If it is Bernie, who he picks for VP will be very important. The only think I’ve heard him say is that it won’t be an old white guy like him. LOL. That leaves open lots of possibilities. I would hope he and his team thinks that one through.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice work and great points Jeff. It’s not written in stone yet, but it’s looking as if Bernie will get his shot this time around. If given the choice, I’d much rather harness the power of a ‘candidate with a movement’ than choose someone perceived as someone ‘good’ but unexciting. It really is hard to know which way to go. I like what Neil Rickert said and agree about Trump’s chances if Bernie’s followers feel they were cheated out of the nomination. We Democrats had therefore better be ready to drive home the message that no matter WHO gets the nomination, swallow your pride and VOTE for that person on November 3rd, as it’s the ONLY way to defeat Donald Trump. It must become our mantra! Staying home out of anger will not solve our Trump problem.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks partner!! So true. We know anyone from our side would be better than the KING. Problem is, so many in this country may not feel that way. Who knows how this whole coronavirus thing will play out, though? For the first time, he has a full blown crisis on his watch. How he performs may actually determine his fate. Still a long way to go Greg.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I love your assessment here, Jeff! I will re-blog later this evening. You are right … more and more, it’s looking like Bernie has the support of the young people who, energized by Greta Thunberg, really do CARE about the environment, and also about their education, their future. The only group that doesn’t seem to accept Bernie is the over-65 crowd, oddly enough. Perhaps his ideas are simply too radical for them. And, the reality is that he’ll only be able to accomplish some portion of what he’d like, but he’s at least headed in the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Jill! I agree, it does appear the older crowd is scared of Bernie. That’s the whole ‘socialism/communism’ fear. It’s funny though…universal health care, child care, and free or reduced cost education isn’t such a ‘radical’ idea in Europe, or other countries. Only here do so many get freaked out over it. With a 19 Trillion dollar economy and the most billionaires in the world, you’d think we could figure out how to get it done. Fat chance, though. The moneyed interests are just too damn strong over here. It’s got to stop!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Yesterday, I posted an article by Robert Reich, giving us a different viewpoint of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and positing that Bernie could very well be the one best-suited to beat Donald Trump. Interestingly, as sometimes happens, Jeff and I were thinking along the same lines and about the same time I posted my Reich piece, Jeff posted this one. Same conclusion, a bit different approach. Great minds think alike! Thanks, Jeff, for this really great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Another excellent post, Jeff! I think people are fearful about the election outcome because that’s what Trump wants us to feel. I honestly believe that whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be, massive numbers of voters will support that person because getting rid of Trump is Job #1.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sure will Jim, and thank you. With Biden’s huge SC win, I think we may be down to a two way race. Bloomberg is the wild card. This Tuesday will tell us a lot, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I hear the same. I’ve also heard that Bloomberg doesn’t have anymore ad buys after tomorrow. Clearly, he’s waiting to see how he does on Super Tuesday. If he does poorly, hopefully he’ll drop out. But, if he does well……more confusion….I hope that doesn’t happen!

        Liked by 1 person

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