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Bernie Sanders on fixing America

May 14, 2014

One of a series on Living in America

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004Once again my snail mailbox is jammed with wonders. I haven’t been so lucky as to receive multiple invitations to buy a walk-in bathtub like Calvin Trillin said he was in a recent New Yorker. But there have been other promising delights.

Seed catalogues are big right now and I have received enough of them to wallpaper my living room. Clothing catalogues enough to at least do over the bathroom. And I’ve had plenty of requests for money to help any number of causes worthy and not so worthy. In the ‘worthy’ category I was struck by one envelope in particular. It was from a U.S. senator.

Now in Canada, I wouldn’t have paid much attention since Canadian Senators have a job for life with all the government trimmings. For this sinecure, covered by taxpayers’ dollars, they don’t have to do much other than vote how the ruling party tells them. Some of them don’t even bother to show up for work. Latterly, some of the good senators, finding themselves short of cash, have taken large payments for things like homes they don’t use or lavish travel for the family.

In America senators are elected and seem to have actual constituencies to serve, but that doesn’t always stop them from behaving badly or making their services available to the highest corporate bidder. In this case, however, we seem to have a horse of a different colour. His name is Bernie Sanders and he wants my money.

Hold on now. He doesn’t plan on shoving the cash into his own suit pocket. In fact, I doubt that Bernie dons a suit very often. He’s that kind of guy, a genuine man of the people. You think I’m being sarcastic. Can’t blame you. We thought Obama was something he isn’t. And looked what happened there.

But “Bernie,” which is how he signed his letter to me, Bernie isn’t asking for money for anything less than mounting a campaign to stop what he calls the Billionaire Party. That’s the “handful of self-serving right-wing multi-billionaires” that are trying to turn American into a GOP oligarchy?

Bernie’s letter seemed sincere. I said “seemed” because we’ve had our share of stock market charlatans, rapture-swooning dingdongs and corrupted political wackos over the past half-century or longer. You can never be too safe.

Fact is, I agreed with pretty much everything Bernie had to say in his fundraising letter and I probably will kick in a few bucks to get the ball rolling on what I hope will be his run for the presidency in 2016.

I think he’s right when he calls on Americans to help “prevent this country from moving to an oligarchic form of society in which virtually all economic and political power rests with a handful of billionaires.”

I also think he’s right when he says we’re “in an unprecedented struggle” to maintain or restore the kind of society that cherishes quality public health care, education, child care and human rights.

He’s also dead on when he says that billionaires like the right-wing Koch brothers are spending billions to ensure that American working people are going down the economic tubes just as they did in the Kochs’ home state of Kansas.

Don’t take my word for it; read Kansan Thomas Frank’s classic What’s the Matter With Kansas? For further examples of how American working people get duped read the late Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting With Jesus. If you’re a real glutton for learning how the 1 percent have been bilking the 99 per cent, go to Capital by French economist Thomas Piketty. He’ll tell you precisely how the rich are getting richer.

You don’t even have to go that far. Just check the voting patterns of your local politicians. You might be shocked to learn that you’ve got a little Scott Walker in charge, and we saw what he did to the public sector in Wisconsin.

Bernie says the Billionaire Party has a very clear goal in mind: “create a right-wing extremist ‘free’ economy in which working people have virtually no rights or protections.” Politicians like Walker and others are leading the charge to send workers to the bottom of the heap. Actually, they want them under the heap, out of sight.

So what’s Bernie’s game plan? He isn’t saying that he’ll run the political gauntlet. We’re not hearing any “yes we can” talk yet. No Obama magic powder here. What he is saying is that Americans need to start “fighting back effectively.” He’s clear-headed enough to know that this isn’t going to be easy.

He’s not spouting some vision of the future, but he’s saying we do need one that speaks to Americans in a new and credible way. “We need to change the political dynamics of the nation,” he says in my letter. “We need to educate, organize and mobilize the working families of our country to stand up for their rights.”

In his list of issues – climate change, social justice, wealth inequality, civil liberties, and the wars to name some – I think Bernie has nailed down much of what is wrong with America.

Here’s a guy who cares about where the country is going and wants to do something to reverse the dangerous trend being set by right-wing billionaires. He’s sticking his head above the foxhole and “taking on the Koch brothers,” as he puts it.

In the gaping hole of empty ideas and even emptier promises, here is someone who is trying to “rally the American people around a progressive agenda.” If I were an American voter, I’d be backing Bernie to the hilt!

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One Response to Bernie Sanders on fixing America

  1. Michael Potts on May 14, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Excellent piece Ron!
    I`m with you, if I were a U.S. citizen I`d be a “Bernie” backer all the way.He is a very rare breed..a politician who honestly speaks his mind,stands up for the “common guy” and believes in social change to the benefit all.
    I wish we had someone of his caliber in Canada..
    ..sadly I can`t think of one.

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