Saturday, April 9, 2016

How Not to "Bern Out": Ten Steps Toward a Future We Can Believe In

By Quincy Saul, Truthout | Op-Ed
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont speaks during a rally at the Liacouras Center, Temple University, in Philadelphia, April 6, 2016. (Photo: Mark Makela / The New York Times)
In the last six months, a relatively low-profile senator from a low-profile state has become a national and even global political phenomenon. At a recent speech in the South Bronx, over 18,000 people rallied with thunderous applause when Bernie Sanders said, "We need millions of people to stand up and create a political revolution." And there's no question that millions are "feeling the Bern."
With World War III on the doorstep, the doomsday clock at three minutes to midnight, straddling tipping points toward catastrophic climate change, and in the middle of a mass extinction, revolution has never been more urgent and necessary. And at the risk of sounding ridiculous, there are real possibilities for an ongoing revolutionary movement to emerge from the matrix of the 2016 election. But an election is not a revolution: A revolution is a long haul, a life's work of sacrifice and struggle. This is a 10-point program for the movement: how not to Bern out.
1. Don't Trust the Mainstream Media 
They don't know how to report on these elections. But that's not all -- they don't know how to report on anything! Their job is not to inform or educate us, but to sell our brains, manufacture consent and censor the most important stories. It's black and white: They are red all over from the blood of the war on Iraq, among other ongoing acts of destruction. And even the polls that usually get it right are getting it all wrong. Let's turn off the TV and turn to each other.
2. Don't Trust the Democratic Party
There's a reason that the Democratic Party is known as the graveyard of social movements. From the Rainbow Coalition to President Obama, this is hardly the first time that aspirations for democracy and justice have been channeled into the Democratic Party. These guys invented the machine: know your history. In short, don't be a tool -- it never works. And even if you think you might succeed where so many failed, it's probably too late now: The Democratic Party is splitting. Theleadership is getting desperate. (So much so that Hillary Clinton is accusing Bernie Sanders of taking too many donations!) Meanwhile, money talks louder than votes, and superdelegates are on sale: It's a rigged game. The Sanders campaign is breaking all the unwritten Democratic Party rules, and that's exactly why it's winning.
3. Know Which Numbers Count
There are so many big numbers in this election that it's easy to get dazed and confused. But some numbers matter more than others: Clinton and Ted Cruz are multi-millionaires, and Donald Trump claims billions. Only one candidate stands out on the wealth scale: Sanders' net worth is $330,000 -- a little more than some of the other candidates get for a single speech. And if the media don't get it, the people do: The Sanders campaign has already broken a record, having received more donations than any other candidate in US history -- over 2.5 million, with an average donation size of $27. The most important numbers aren't denominated in dollars. Remember, the super-rich are only 1%. "Ye are many, they are few."
4. "It's the Empire, Stupid!"
It seems appropriate to paraphrase Bill Clinton to make this point. It's common knowledge to the rest of the world, yet slips the mind of many US voters with uncanny regularity. The president is not just the president, but also the commander in chief of the largest and most powerful empire in the history of the planet, with nearly a thousand military bases in close to 200 countries all over the world. "Know the enemy, know yourself, that's the politics," as Dead Prez still reminds us. It's not about pessimism; it's about imperialism. This isn't just about 50 states.
"Foreign policy" is code for world domination, to the tune of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NATO, the World Trade Organization, GMOs, AIPAC, and GOD itself (gold, oil and drugs). But don't despair! Recognizing the empire for what it is can be empowering and liberating, because it connects us to the rest of the world who are struggling against it. People are feeling the Bern from Sri Lanka to Ecuador toPakistan to Australia to Greece and it's not because they like Vermont maple syrup. It's because the vast majority of the world's population is at the mercy of US corporations and politicians, and they don't get a vote. But now, there's a mass movement behind a candidate who has a long record of taking on monopoly corporations and voting against war. It's not the end of empire, but it could be the beginning of that end.
5. Don't Let Anyone Steal Our Hope
Remember Obamamania? "Yes We Can" and "Vote for Change"? Fast-forward to thedeporter in chief, who turned Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" into "I have a drone." Let's not make that mistake again! Don't let anyone steal our hope. Let's put our hope in ourselves, our communities, our cultures and our higher callings. Because there is no hope that Sanders or any candidate can fix all our problems.Sanders himself is very clear on this point: "No president, not Bernie Sanders, can do it all ... We need a political revolution in this country." The political system is so screwed that Obama can't even do his basic job -- what hope is there that this system will let Sanders do any better? The only hope is in massive, sustained collective action on every front. That's the only hope: You're the only hope. Never let it go.
6. Study the Shadow State
"People are starting to wake up to what our election process looks like. We are not a democracy, even though we keep trying to push that colonially all around the world." If you don't believe Rosario Dawson, a recent Princeton University studycame to the same conclusion -- and even The New Yorker couldn't spin it. This is an oligarchy, and the 1% have names and addresses. But the Koch brothers and their"dark money" are the provincial tip of a global iceberg. Groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group have a much bigger footprint. If we want to beat them, we better know how they operate. The good news is that good people are shining spotlights into the shadows, and we can see which candidates are lurking, getting their strings pulled: When the Council on Foreign Relations opened a new headquarters in Washington, DC, in 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the opening address: "It's good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won't have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future."

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