Type to search

Take The Movement To The White House

Campaign 2016 Congress Featured Post Memo Pad Politics Top News White House

Take The Movement To The White House

Share
Bernie Sanders

At a recent dinner with my work team, I was reminded that I had said I wanted to travel less for work this year so I ongould focus on other projects. Instead, I find myself bouncing across the country campaigning for my friend who decided to run for president.

I first met Bernie Sanders in the 1980s, after he pulled off a surprising upset to be elected mayor of Burlington. Throughout his time as a public servant, Bernie has never abandoned his working-class roots, remaining unusually free of the peacocking strut that afflicts too many in high office. For example, he’s not “Senator Sanders” but just “Bernie” — as everyone calls him that. He lives modestly, flies coach class and considers $25 a major campaign donation. It’s also worth noting that he has not used his official positions to get rich. While most people in Congress are millionaires, Sanders’ financial net worth is in the six-figure range, one of the lowest of any senator.

Bernie happily calls himself a “democratic socialist,” a loaded term that initially spooks many people. But as Vermonters (who keep electing him — last time with more than 70 percent of the vote) have come to know from his actions and policies, and as the hundreds of thousands of people turning out to hear him are learning, the phrase essentially means being a feisty FDR populist, willing to take on the economic royalists (and welcoming “their hatred,” as Roosevelt put it) in order to (in Bernie’s words) “revitalize American democracy so that government works for all of us, not just the large campaign contributors.”

For Bernie, the key word in democratic socialism is “democratic” — rallying and organizing workaday people to reject the plutocratic corporate order and build “a society in which all people have a decent standard of living — not a society in which a few people have incredible wealth while 47 million live in poverty.” Sanders comes straight out of America’s historic continuum of progressive boat-rockers: the pamphleteers, abolitionists, suffragists, Populists, unionists, Progressives, New Dealers, anti-war protesters, along with marchers for women’s equality, gay rights, the environment and the civil rights movement. Bernie himself was active in the civil rights movement as an organizer for Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, getting arrested at anti-segregation sit-ins, and participating the 1963 March on Washington. And his activism and fighting spirit carry on into today’s struggles over inequality, oppression and corporate hegemony.

Bernie is serious about winning his run for the highest office. This is not a symbolic run to raise issues, nor is it an ego trip. “I am not running to fulfill some long-held ambition,” he told Rolling Stone. “I never believed that I would ever become a mayor, a congressman or a United States senator (much less a president). … I am running for one simple reason: This country today is facing extraordinary crises in terms of climate change, income and wealth inequality; in terms of a political system which is now corrupt and leading us toward oligarchy; in terms of the collapse of the middle class; in terms of more people in jail than any other country on Earth, and in terms of an immigration policy which is clearly completely broken. I just do not believe that establishment politics are going to address these issues. … I do not say ‘Elect Bernie Sanders, I’m going to solve all these problems.’ We need millions of people to stand up and fight back.” In other words, we need “a movement.”

Sanders is as offended as the great majority of people are that Washington is so totally in the pockets of moneyed elites. Someone finally has to rebel, and no one had stepped forward, so he did. He’s saying: Use me. I’ll be your mechanism, your political tool in 2016 for building a democratic movement that can govern in the people’s interest, rather than for the 1-percenters.
“My job,” says Bernie, “is to activate people to fight for their rights and to force Congress to respond to the needs of working families.” Bernie recognizes that the people’s yearning for such a movement is what has created him as a presidential contender. He’s not only aware of this basic truth, but he’s turned it into an alter call, saying: “I can’t do this. But we can.”

Photo: Bernie Sanders wants to start a movement. REUTERS/David Becker

Tags:
Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a nationally syndicated columnist and one of America's most prominent progressive voices. His column carried by more than 75 publications across the country. Prior to becoming a writer, Hightower served as Texas Agricultural Commission from 1982 to 1991.

  • 1

23 Comments

  1. TZToronto January 27, 2016

    I’m beginning to rethink my preferences. Bernie was an also-ran when he began this campaign, but it’s obvious that he’s the real real. So far most of the vitriol from the party of greed and where’s mine? has focused on Hillary, but they’ll have to reconsider their target. I wonder what nastiness they’ll use.. . . I think I know.

    Reply
    1. joe schmo January 27, 2016

      Hillary is in deep doo doo. Will come out soon……

      Reply
      1. TZToronto January 27, 2016

        She’ll still smell better than any of the Republican presidential wannabes.

        Reply
  2. Paragryne January 27, 2016

    Sandra as President would be a disaster for many reasons. He’ll be a one term politically divisive President and set Progressivism back decades.

    Reply
    1. RED January 27, 2016

      Or mobilize millions to become involved and change our country for the better. I’ll never understand folks like you, who continue to be perfectly willing to watch our country be stolen by the one percent as we all sink lower and lower. Do you think if you’re really nice to them they will let you eat their leftovers? I guess the people of Flint just weren’t nice enough? Maybe they should have bowed more and thrown in a few more “yes sirs?”

      Reply
      1. Paragryne January 27, 2016

        OMG.

        Reply
  3. @HawaiianTater January 27, 2016

    There’s going to be a whole lot of shocked people come voting time. The Establishment has the money but Bernie has the people. My money is on the people.

    Reply
    1. joe schmo January 27, 2016

      Bernie will never win against Trump. Trump will annihilate him in the debates. The socialists tried to move in during the 1940’s, but when the people go to the voting booth they will think about whether they want a free country or not. Most like freedom is more important than communism.

      Reply
      1. @HawaiianTater January 27, 2016

        Poor Joe Schmuck doesn’t understand demographics and the electoral college. Just keep telling yourself Trump can win. Whatever helps you sleep at night, little buddy.

        Reply
        1. RED January 27, 2016

          And of course, joe schmo and the other morons will valiantly try to shift & deflect their lies once Trump has gone down in flames, just like in 2012 when these same morons were fantasizing about “skewed polls.” It’s a fascinating trait the ignorant Cons possess, in that they seem to think being the loudest and the stupidest somehow makes them both right and in the majority. It’s kinda weird until you remember that we’re talking about morons.

          Reply
          1. @HawaiianTater January 27, 2016

            Remember how shocked they were when Romney got crushed? Oh and that Karl Rove meltdown… good times.

            Reply
          2. RED January 27, 2016

            Hilarious!! It’s was quite clear to thinking human beings who was gonna win in 2012.

            Reply
          3. Otto Greif January 27, 2016

            Sanders supporters are saying all the polls are skewed.

            Reply
          4. RED January 27, 2016

            You just can’t get near a keyboard without your stupid spilling out, can ya? I would accuse you of making stuff up but making stuff up at least requires an intellectual ability to know right from wrong, fact from fiction, and you lack that ability. So rather than actually lying, we understand you to be just so simplistic and ignorant that you actually believe your own stupidity. Good luck with that.

            Reply
          5. Otto Greif January 27, 2016

            How can Sanders win the nomination given his lack of support from non-whites?

            Reply
          6. RED January 27, 2016

            Stunningly stupid, you are. Where did I say Sanders was gonna win? Sure I hope he does but I never said that in this thread, genius. But once again like all myopic ignorant Cons you only see what you wanna see and reality will never interfere with your mind numbing ignorance.

            Reply
          7. Otto Greif January 27, 2016

            I never said you did, learn how to read.

            Reply
    2. Otto Greif January 27, 2016

      You will be among those shocked after Trump wins.

      Reply
        1. Otto Greif January 27, 2016

          Sanders won’t even win the Democrat nomination because of his lack of support from non-whites.

          Reply
    3. mike January 27, 2016

      He has a small minority of people.
      Waiting to see how the “people” vote then the conversations can really begin.

      Reply
  4. joe schmo January 27, 2016

    Heard Bernie is meeting with President Obama. There is trouble in paradise for Hillary. The storm is a comin for Hillary. She most likely WILL NOT b your candidate. What I just heard will make her irrelevant. It will soon be over for her candidacy.

    Reply
    1. JPHALL January 27, 2016

      Why do you believe in these fantasies you keep pushing?

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.