Bernie Sanders is not slick. He looks bad in a suit, he is all but bald, he is hunched with age and the camera merely tolerates him or worse. Bernie’s platform is handsomely constructed though. His tent is huge and he is calling out this Republic for the
cash whoring, lobbyist Frenching, Koch Brothers genuflecting oligarchy that it is.
As a political columnist, I like to think that I can hold myself at a bit of a distance in a Presidential campaign. A dash of objectivity is vital for seeing the whole field. It’s important not to be overly partisan, though partisan I have sometimes been. In the case of Bernie Sanders, he is the rarest of candidates who says out loud what most people know. Our political system is by, for and of the richest and most powerful. No matter what promises are made to get elected, the biggest checks from corporations, PAC’s and billionaires call the tune. It is bribery in its most audacious form and it’s a D.C. sacrament.
If Barbara Eden smoked out of her bottle and gave me one political wish, it would be to make the 22nd Amendment disappear. All in all, I would choose a third term for President Obama if he had the will to run. In spite of my oft stated frustrations with him, he is already touching greatness as the President who rescued the nation from another Great Depression, the man who finally delivered on health care for all, the one who rescued the auto industry, the leader who reopened Cuba and is nearing a landmark deal with Iran to keep their nuclear ambition reined in. Oh, yeah, he killed bin Laden. Remember him?
On the flip side of the ledger, Guantanamo Bay is still open, the NSA has blasted any semblance of privacy, the immigration crisis continues unabated, America’s infrastructure continues to rot and the gap between rich and poor is Dickensian. Obama has made his bones against the most corrupt and mendacious GOP opponents in over 100 years. Boehner, McConnell and their Terra Cotta armies of unblinking obstructionists have taken up space, time and air with the simple desire to destroy the President.
The first female President will likely be Liz Warren but her time is no yet here. Hillary is Nixon in drag and she is the property of Wall Street, Big Banks, foreign cash, Big Oil and the other sources of her projected 2.5 billion dollar war chest. This context makes the non telegenic Bernie Sanders even more appealing. Professional pundits repeat the mantra that Bernie can’t win because saying so requires no imagination or vision. Sanders is a self professed Democratic Socialist and that phrase sends Wing Nuts braying into the night with their Heritage Foundation souvenir pitchforks aloft. The wealthy have their own party and brand with the GOP and what does that have to do with governing?
Every candidate pulls on a populist hide to get elected President. Bush the First had his “Compassionate Conservatism”, a phrase that was cooked up with focus groups and complimentary pizza. Republicans run on social issues in order to duck real problems while dividing the electorate at the same time. The Roberts Court has ripped up the Voting Rights Act and the Southern states which routinely propped up Jim Crow are now giving him wings. The great exception with Bernie Sanders is that he is truly a populist and an enemy of the way things are done in Washington. He knows that private fortunes have stolen this country. He knows that college students hold over a trillion in student loan debt and that training for a future is pointless if it is followed by a lifetime of permanent and ever growing debt.
Sanders knows how appalling the gap between rich and poor is and that while Americans are still the most productive workers in the world, the vast majority are working harder for less. Capitalism is a dirty word because only the richest play the dirtiest. The salary of a CEO is over 200 times that of the average worker. The center cannot hold. If draining the electoral swamp is the first step to actual change, then Bernie Sanders is running a national intervention. He is saying that we still love Democracy but it needs help and it needs to change. It needs the equivalent of six months at Betty Ford and some time in the fresh air.
Let Democracy heal and throw a net over the rest of the posers who are masquerading as public servants. If Congress does not have rubber walls, then the inmates running the place need some shock therapy. That powerful charge needs to come next November and be administered by a qualified candidate. Bernie ain’t pretty but he does resemble a doctor you could easily trust. Will the establishment please turn its head and cough?
American democracy, heal thyself.