Let me tell you of an old man with a wild shock of white hair…
For thirty years he was the proverbial preacher in the desert as he railed against injustice, the repeal of social reform, and the corporate takeover of America.
Some probably laughed at him as he sometimes spoke to nearly empty halls of power, but he was no ordinary man…
Let me tell you: he is a fiercely intelligent man, and in those thirty years he learned a great deal about politics.
And then, fifteen months ago, he struck.
He did the most unexpected thing: he ran for the presidential nomination. But not as an independent, nor in a tiny party. He managed to do it from within his country’s twin party tyranny which has effectively blocked access to all others who have sought political office if they did not fall in line with them.
The party leadership probably thought this was a good deal for them, eliminating even the tiniest spoiler effect in the general election, and even decorating the party with a veneer of democratic procedure, since now they could show two nomination candidates to the world, instead of only one.
What the corporatist party bosses and operatives did not see coming was that the old man’s voice was the voice of the country’s disenfranchised people. And, by running within the party, Bernie Sanders could, for the first time, be heard by them, and in those mere fifteen months his voice became amplified by twelve million counted voters and many more who were never counted because they were never allowed to vote or their votes were secretly trashed.
All of a sudden, we the millions, we the people, knew we were no longer alone. We had not only a wise and clever old man of great experience, a true master politician; but we also had – and have – each other!
Then there came a fork in the road. Bernie had to chose whether to stick with the plan of trying to reform the party from within or run third ticket. Many of us hoped for the latter because we had long given up on the twin parties. But, for reasons he knows best, he chose to stick with plan A. If this was the better choice we may never know. Still, as in a war where a general must make a tough choice, some of us decided to keep trusting his judgment, and others felt betrayed. On both sides of this divide, it was heart-wrenching to hear him “endorse” his corporatist opponent, a wheeling and dealing former First Lady who felt her time had come, her entitlement to the presidency. And, boy, had she prepared the field for those primaries to be tilted and fixed. From voter purges to vote miscounts, from media blackout to smear campaigns, nothing was left untried. That year, democracy died the death of a thousand cuts.
Why did he endorse the corporate shill? Had he given up? Had he sold out? Or was it a slick move by the master politician to show the party before the convention that his supporters would never vote for her? Was it a slick trick employed to hold her and the party’s feet to the fire regarding the progressive platform he had forced them to accept. Or did he do it to become the acceptable party default if or when Hillary Clinton would be indited for one of her many alleged crimes? Perhaps we will never know.
And then, at the national convention — where, we hear by rumors seeping through those closed doors, he actually won a written nomination process in the morning, but by evening the party bosses staged a do-over per roll call with apparently some fixes in place once more — he surprised us all again: he moved to suspend the rules and select Clinton for nomination, and left… a proper nomination by united acclaim avoided… yes, once again avoided. A mere fly in the ointment, or a chance for the old man to rise from the dead, so to speak, when perhaps that indictment comes, or the party bosses panic over Hillary’s ever shrinking polling numbers?
Never in my lifetime, has an election year been so breathtaking and heart-wrenching, not even 2004.
However, among all this, we must not overlook: it is, as Bernie Sanders has told us many times, not about him, but about us, and OUR revolution which we must form from the ashes of his campaign, preferably while the embers are still hot.
And while the old man himself has begun to put transitional organizations in place, it is really up to us now to build the revolution we desire and become the change we want to see. We may continue Bernie’s attempt to recapture the Democratic party from the bottom, holding its feet to the fire until it is the people’s party again and all those “neoliberal” gangsters and their deluded hangers-on and hired actors are gone. We may splinter into many fractions from which a multi-prong strategy may arise; or we may throw our joint weight behind one third party, perhaps of the color of fresh new growth. There are even more imaginative approaches currently proposed. Whatever we now do, we are the ones we have been waiting for.
Thank you Bernie Sanders for starting it all. May you rest in peace when your time comes to pass from this Earth. But may you even have some more amazing surprises for us before you do. We shall never forget you and what you did for us.