Buy, Buy Bernie: The People’s Revolution Placebo

Written By Dustin Micheli

Questioning the credibility, consistency and accountability of Sen. Bernie Sanders is not something I would have expected to see myself doing if I had been thinking of the possibilities a little more than a year ago. My reasoning for doing so is that recently people have been beating a drum that is loud, but ringing hollow in its tone and depth of scope. That drum is the “Draft Bernie” movement. To say I have bitter feelings from the recent presidential elections, especially the democratic primaries, would be putting it mildly. You see, I too was a Bernie supporter. From the time he announced his candidacy ( I created a local Facebook page that very day), until his failure to contest the rigged primaries and his subsequent politically correct backing of Hillary Clinton. Bernie himself gave us politics as usual when he had promised us bold changes and vision. The fact that he wouldn’t challenge an obviously rigged primary in order to facilitate a smoother campaign for HRC, and tried to shore up votes for someone who cheated us all, shows Bernie’s lack of consistency, credibility, and accountability. In my view, Bernie’s willingness to back Clinton for temporary political expediency is exactly the kind of maneuver that makes him unfit to lead any effective revolution for change. My spouse and I supported Bernie in the ways we could, given we have two children and are a single income family. We were 2 of the 250,000 remarkable volunteers that made up the phenomenon that was the Sanders campaign. We talked about Bernie, chalked Bernie, donated money we could ill afford, walked for Bernie. We canvassed for Bernie, created Facebook groups, posted for Bernie, and handed out countless fliers. We bought Bernie paraphernalia and practically made our van a giant Bernie Revolution mobile advertisement. I even argued with rednecks about socialism for Bernie. The reason I tell you this is to establish that we could “Feel the Bern” big time. So I hope you’ll understand that if you’re still an admirer or supporter of Bernie Sanders, this is as difficult for me to write as it might be for you to hear. If you are considering this new Bernie movement to be a good idea or time well spent, this is not an indictment of your values but an accounting of our collective purpose and energies. The Bernie Sanders campaign ignited something deep within me as it did many of us. I thought we finally had a champion. A champion that I thought was the refined mirror image of my political ideals speaking to me from the floor of the Senate with a Brooklyn accent. I had long been an admirer of the good Senator and Bernie’s candidacy ignited something in me that had been waiting for a gust of wind to breathe life back into it. The fire it kindled burned as hot as a blacksmiths cauldron, refining and likewise purifying my most strongly held ideals and values. Among those emerging values was the sense of purpose and responsibility to stand up for those people and values that are most often disregarded or trampled upon. The need to push for and defend progressive ideals of hope for a better more peaceful future, to embrace and adopt bold solutions to our dire problems -economically, socially, geopolitically, and environmentally- became solidified for many of us. People have asked me, “What should Bernie have done?” Well, I think he should have fought the good fight for us and contested the primary. He should have gone to the mat for us when it really counted. He could have taken the Green Party up on their offer and ran against Clinton and Trump on their ticket. (I still really think he would have won.) He should have done anything other than give up. Or at very least, not backed Hillary “Gold Standard” Clinton, the very kind of corporate establishment war monger that stands in the way of our progressive agenda and vision. It doesn’t take a lot of mental gymnastics to land on the idea that perhaps Bernie should have contested the obviously biased and rigged primary, or made any effort to hold the DNC accountable for their fraud. It seems a bit more of a stretch, though, to accept Bernie’s parroting of the false establishment narrative about Russia hacking the elections, as well as his new rhetoric regarding Syria (a seeming reversal of his anti-regime change and intervention stance). The idea that Bernie could be a reliable member of, much less lead, any effective movement for change or revolution seems to be more of a leap than a stretch. Mounting another prospective or credible presidential campaign seems even less likely, especially considering Bernie has not made any indication of his willingness or want to do so. In many respects the “Draft Bernie” movement is a “Bernie or Bust” that doesn’t realize that it has already deflated. I cannot attest to the placebo effect many seem to be getting from the continued personality cult of Bernie Sanders, other than to point out the obvious continuation of his abnormal and latent popularity. The placebo effect comes from a place and desire for change or relief from our political pains and ailments as they are. That people want and see the need for change and even revolution is encouraging, but to think Bernie might mount another credible campaign when he has so many inconsistencies to answer for, might be a bit more than anyone should expect of placebo or real medicine. The real solution, like much illness in physical health, lies in changing our political diet and exercising more, not trying to find different ways to disguise the symptoms. Many thought they were joining a grassroots movement for bold change, but it went on to become the shoring up and sheep dogging of progressive voters to the point of coercion. The constant fear mongering chorus became a noisy, ignorant- “TRUMP BAD!”- guilt tripping progressives that wouldn’t fall in line. This tactic backfired, further highlighting the difference in values between establishment Democrats and progressive voters, which became a bigger elephant in the room than the 16 Republicans that had been running for the GOP nomination. As the Republicans and Trump- still power drunk from their electoral wins across the country- go about the process of dismantling the traditional institutions of democracy that people depended on for recourse and redress of grievances, a deflated and defeated Democratic party must go about the process of damage control, trying to repair their spiraling and foreboding reputation before the mid term elections in 2018. Bernie Sanders has wisely been gradually distancing himself from the Democratic party as well, recently all but walking back his parroting of blaming Russia for supposed influence in US elections. He put the blame of their loss nearly squarely on the shoulders of the DNC and their failure to have a message for the people or differentiate themselves in any substantial way. He even went so far as to point out that across the country Democrats lost almost 1000 elected seats, something that could hardly be blamed on either Donald Trump, the Electoral College or “Russia, Russia, Russia!” . Bernie was recently quoted in a CNN interview saying “ The Democratic brand is pretty bad.” This coming from the most powerful fundraising entity ever to run for office. The importance of highlighting the differences between the values of the corporate democrats (and the donor class they serve), and the growing progressive populace movement can not be more emphasized. Issues such as universal healthcare, net neutrality, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, breaking up the big banks, ending foreign wars abroad, reinvesting in infrastructure, and affordable and improved education are all examples of things most people want, but can’t get either of our corporate friendly political parties to pursue. This has caused us to fall drastically behind much of the rest of the world in many major areas. The corporate-friendly neo liberal Democrats like to pitch themselves as pragmatists, but they want to continue pragmatically down the same failed path that we have been on for more than 40yrs. On many of these issues, I believe Senator Bernie Sanders is still a valuable and reliable ally; on others not so much. The most critical thing I think Bernie can do is continue to represent the people of Vermont and try to be prepared to vote for or sponsor important progressive legislation in the future as he has done before. Beyond that, I believe any movement behind Bernie is doomed to repeat its mistakes and cannot be rationally sustained without addressing a massive load of hypocrisy, which would probably conclude in the same disappointing anticlimactic way, causing further dismay and apathy among the populace. The nonsensical “Resistance” movement, much like its coopted “ Draft Bernie” movement, is simply more sheep dogging being done by the Democratic establishment to shore up support- and deflect attention from things like the class action lawsuit against them. (The lawsuit has demonstrated the fact that they rigged the primary and that they don’t have a reasonable defense to even sell the public.) This also serves as a deflection from the fact that neo liberals trying to manipulate and scare voters into submission only worked so much and inevitably gave us Donald Trump. The AHCA or OBAMACARE is another example of neo liberal policies pulling the policies to the right while derailing the legitimate concerns and needs of the populace for a healthcare system. This became more of a boondoggle for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries than a legitimate health care plan designed to help actual people. With the United States ranking 37th on the World Health Organization index chart, but number one in cost, it’s something almost any politician could run and win on considering the level of bankruptcy our current healthcare system has caused average Americans across the country. This alone highlights who is calling the shots- and its not the voters or the public. In the end, all I ask any of you to do is vote your values not your fears. Abandon partisan corporate political parties and the false dichotomy that is our two party political system. Get involved and care. Find and refine your political and social values if not your activism and identity. To me, the real revolutionaries and activists seem to be represented well by the Green Parties Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, (whose platform is arguably the most progressive and pragmatic in the country). Considering our immediate need for response to all issues, especially climate change and pollution mitigation, I can’t think of more active vocal proponents of real change out there. Otherwise, Tulsi Gabbard has become a very active and vocal opponent of our aggressive foreign policy and deserves consideration if not credit for being willing to challenge the powerful establishment from within on things like war and arming terrorists. Those fires that burned so hot and intensely for revolution and change can refine us and our values. We must let them, so as to find our true place and purpose before its too late. In the end I can thank Bernie, if not support him, for breathing new life into my ideals and hope for the future. The resulting disappointment in him and his candidacy does not overshadow or dissuade my resolve and mobilization, nor should it for anyone else. After all, our values were purified by the fire that we had to endure to support his candidacy to begin with. All is not lost, Feel the Bern.. Food for thought.

Truth, Activism, Bananas.

Originally published at on June 25, 2017.

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