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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


What Was Susan Sarandon Thinking?

In an interview Monday with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Susan Sarandon said that it was a “legitimate concern” that Bernie Sanders’s most passionate supporters wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, should she be the Democratic Party’s nominee. Then, she said she could see the logic in voting for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, because “some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately.”

Hayes clarified — did Sarandon mean “the Leninist model” of voting for Donald Trump? Picking the worst possible candidate in recent history in order to “heighten the contradictions” between Trump’s decisions in office and the newly heightened potential for a real “revolution”?

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Sarandon responded. “Some people feel that.”

This campaign cycle has seen the Democratic Party maintain some level of stability, even though it’s been thoroughly shaken up by a successful insurgent candidate and the huge viral movement behind him. Compared to our Republican friends, Democrats — even new, energized Democrats — have kept a level head and our eyes on the ball: winning in November. And not only the presidency. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, which looks likely, we could take the Senate and even, maybe, the House of Representatives.

But if Sanders supporters, including myself, take our cues from Susan Sarandon, we can blame her ideology for the upcoming Trump presidency. And more than that, we can blame her ideology for the dysfunction of our politics.

Though Sarandon took to Twitter after her remarks to clarify that she would “never support Trump for any reason,” her ideology remains the same: that Bernie Sanders represents a “political revolution” against “establishment” politics, and that this establishment itself is a greater threat to American democracy than even the Republicans’ most extremist views.

If you believe this, so be it. But I would hope you consider a few things before doing so.

Do you know your options for your local congressional race? Who most closely aligns with your views? What about among candidates for the Senate? For governor?

These are the real “establishment.” These are what Bernie Sanders would need, as president, in order to ensure his über ambitious legislative agenda has a snowball’s chance in New York’s unusually warm winter.

When Bernie Sanders talks about a “revolution,” it is this: a revolution in political pressure on all levels of government. He wants to do more than he was ever able to do as an independent senator from Vermont.

Winning the presidency would be a huge mandate, but what if Sanders loses? Susan Sarandon, to take her word for it, wouldn’t mind if Sanders supporters “brought on the revolution” by electing Donald Trump.

These are two completely different revolutions.

One requires democratic engagement, vigorous debate, political organization, and systematic, long-term effort.

The other is a vain hope that the people most at risk of a Trump presidency — immigrants, refugees, Muslims, the poor, women — would be so at risk as to prompt some larger push back. To be honest, I really don’t know what kind of “revolution” this is. Protests in the streets? Tea Party obstructionism?

Surely, something will happen if Donald Trump becomes president and makes good on his promise to find and deport upwards of 11 million people, ban Muslims from entering the United States, and start trade wars with China and Mexico. It’s simply unavoidable.

But I would hope whatever happens, should Bernie Sanders lose the nomination — or win it and lose the presidency — fits his definition of revolution. We need a political revolution. Americans are traditionally very bad voters. We’re typically disengaged from politics. Our political media doesn’t hold our political leaders accountable, and neither do their constituents.

If we accept Sarandon’s definition of revolution, which requires installing what would be the worst president in a century, surely, none of that will change.

If we accept Bernie’s definition, we can have it all, even if he loses: a Democrat in office, and millions upon millions of politically engaged Americans holding her feet to the fire.

25 Years After Berlin Wall Fell, Lenin’s Image Still Divides

By Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Foreign Staff

SCHWERIN, Germany — In the 25 years since the Berlin Wall fell, historian Ralf Wendt has watched much of his former life vanish.

The museum he curated that tells Schwerin’s 1,000-year history was a national treasure in communist East Germany. But once East Germany merged with West Germany, it was just an unprofitable remnant and its once-admired exhibits were hauled off to storage.

Change came elsewhere too. The public art that this East German provincial capital had proudly display during 40 years of socialism was deemed uninteresting to a capitalist world. Piece by piece, it was removed and hidden away. In one case, a school janitor decided on his own to take down and bury a statue of Karl Marx, the German father of socialism.

Now Wendt is watching with chagrin as the one of the last markers of the East German era comes under attack: a towering memorial to the founder of Soviet communism, Vladimir Lenin, that stands on a small residential square. It may be the last of its kind in Western Europe. A growing movement wants it torn down.

“In this modern world, we are told Lenin plays no role,” he said. “But we cannot totally ignore our history. The monument is a document. It says who he was, and that says something about who we were — and are. I don’t understand the need to tear it down or cover it.”

Since the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, Lenin statues have been dragged or beaten down in former Soviet states and satellites from Armenia to Romania.

In Berlin, a famous Lenin in granite was hauled away and buried. The burial site is unmarked –to discourage devotees from creating a memorial at the site, in much the same way German authorities refused for decades to mark the spot where Adolf Hitler killed himself. His death spot, now an apartment complex parking lot, merits a multilingual plaque today.

All of which lends an air of significance to the discussion in what used to be near the northwestern tip of East Germany of what to do with Schwerin’s Lenin.

The debate, which began years ago, has included everything from splashing paint on the statue to letter-to-the-editor battles in the local newspaper. On Tuesday, former East German resident Alexander Bauersfeld organized a protest and covered Lenin’s head with a bed sheet to look somewhat like a hangman’s hood.

Bauersfeld’s reasons for the protest: the continued existence of the statue causes him serious pain. The East German government arrested and imprisoned him as a political dissident. He says honoring the man at the heart of the Soviet empire — he describes Lenin as “one the worst tyrants of the 20th century” — is simply wrong. In June 1953, when Soviet tanks crushed a popular uprising in East Germany, many carried images of Lenin, he points out.

“Our campaign is long overdue,” he said. “The Lenin statue has to go.”

Schwerin Mayor Angelika Gramkow has taken considerable heat for fighting to keep the statue standing. A member of the socialist left, she thinks it’s important to remember the past.

She notes that her city is home to one of the last remaining Lenin statues in Western Europe, and one of the few left in the former Soviet satellites.

“It was a disaster to remove almost all statues and rename most streets that reminded us of our East German past after the fall of the wall,” she said. “We Germans tend to remove signs of the past at the end of every historic period. We think our responsibility is done when we remove the symbols. We forget that in their absence, public discussion of the past is no longer possible.”

Photo via WikiCommons

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