“What I am calling for is not just your support. I am asking you to be part of a political revolution; a revolution which transforms our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.”
So declared Senator Bernie Sanders in a recent town hall meeting at The Medallion Center in Columbia, South Carolina. Committed Berniemaniacs have been hearing this challenge for months, at least since Bernie’s official launch event on May 26.
Think about it: A political revolution. A transformation of our country in an all-encompassing and fundamental way. Have we considered the full scope of what that could really mean – and what it would really require?
It’s way more than Americans have been asked to do for a very long time. More than John F. Kennedy’s exhortation to “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” And more than George H.W. Bush’s call for us to function as “a thousand points of light” in service to our fellow citizens. “Ambitious” scarcely begins to describe it. I think Bernie Sanders means to put us to work! In fact, the moment that Senator Sanders becomes President Sanders is the moment when the real work will begin.
In order to appreciate the case for a political revolution, it is helpful to reflect upon how we as a nation arrived at our current predicament in the first place, to a point where vast amounts of capital – and the immense power that vast amounts of capital can purchase – have been methodically leveraged to siphon away our personal savings and investments as well as public resources intended for us all to share, while systematically depriving us of our collective bargaining rights, our workplace protection rights, our earned benefits rights, our voting rights, our consumer protection rights, our environmental protection rights, our civil liberties and civil rights, our Net neutrality rights, our rights to clean healthy food, our rights to control our own bodies, our rights of sovereignty and self-determination – and ultimately, robbing us of our very ability to fight back.
In my opinion, it happened because, years ago, America got lazy. We got lazy, and complacent, and careless. We allowed ourselves to get conned by a cabal of political grifters, and the robber barons and plutocrats they represent, into believing that their “trickle down” snake oil was a magic elixir. They told us what we wanted to hear – and we didn’t ask too many questions, because it was such a pleasant bedtime story after all. And because cautious skepticism is such a downer, and critical thinking is so much work! By the time we finally woke up, with a terrible stomach ache, the grifters had skipped town, our 401ks were gone, our jobs had been sent to Malaysia, our houses were being repossessed – and we were told to “Take it or leave it!”
The parallels between the late Twenties and our own time are so direct and so dramatic, it’s downright scary. The wealth disparity between the haves and the have nots was extreme – and at the time, unprecedented. The wealthy lived lives of extraordinary extravagance and opulence, enjoying great privilege and wielding great power, while ordinary people struggled simply to survive – with virtually no social safety net. The stock market, already at an all-time high and still climbing, seemed destined to fuel great fortunes indefinitely…until one day, it didn’t.
It was only the transformed political conditions wrought by years of widespread poverty and misery that sparked the sea change necessary to break the iron grip of the plutocrats, and open the gates to greater opportunity and fair play for all Americans. It was the Great Depression that brought about the political revolution of that time. What will it take to bring about the political revolution of our time?
I believe it will take a level of determination and commitment – sustained, ongoing determination and commitment – that few of us have ever considered until now. It will require us to maintain a heightened state of awareness and vigilance at all times, and a proactive, assertive preparation to pounce whenever our rights, privileges or opportunities are under threat – with no expiration period or end date in sight. Ever.
Gone are the days when we can assume that decisions made by our elected representatives in government will be considered with our interests in mind. Gone are the days when we can ignore the predatory practices of multinational corporations that would drown our rights, our ambitions and our opportunities in a torrent of dirty money. Gone are the days when we can ever again afford to be passive or complacent or negligent – about anything.
To take back our country from the clutches of the robber barons and the plutocrats and the bought politicians who serve them, and reclaim our democracy for the benefit of all our people, will ultimately require a cultural sea change from which all other changes originate; the kind of pervasive and penetrating revolution of consciousness that serves notice to all: that the people are back in charge…and we won’t ever relinquish control of our country again.
America is so ready for this. We need only the right leader who can serve as the catalyst for this change to occur, around whom our political revolution can coalesce. I believe that leader is Senator Bernie Sanders – and that the key to the transformation of America is to get Bernie Sanders elected as the 45th President of the United States.