Thursday, September 1, 2016

Don't Bern Out

The movement that this site is based upon, despite of course being open to individuals of all political leanings, is largely being built (and was made possible) by former Bernie Sanders supporters. And as someone who is part of that group, I feel the need to give my fellow founders of the political revolution some advice.

Mainly, this message is directed towards a certain type of former Sanders supporter: the one who has, in essence, stopped supporting him.

All throughout the campaign, Sanders told us that change always takes place from the bottom up, that no president can ever achieve what the people can achieve when they recognize their own power. He even promoted a campaign slogan that reminded us of that fact-"not me, us."

But after the media, the DNC, and even the FBI worked to sabotage Sanders's chances of becoming the nominee, which gave him little choice but to give in, how his followers reacted would be the test of their character. If they accepted his decision despite not agreeing with it and moved on to continue his movement, they would pass.

And I fear that for the most part, they're failing that test. Far too much, I see Sanders supporters on social media expressing not just disappointment but bitterness for what happened, saying that their former leader "sold us out" and blaming him for supporting Hillary Clinton. I disagree as well with his choice to do so, and I'm also somewhat disappointed with how he largely did not address the election fraud that occurred, but I have enormous respect and gratitude for him nonetheless.

But the trait I witness in these types that I find the most disturbing is how now that many of them have moved on to the Green Party's Jill Stein, they're behaving exactly like they did during the primaries. They act as if she's the answer to every problem, and some of them believe that to such an extent that they've convinced themselves she has a serious chance to win.

I support Stein as well, but I have the realism to know that in the end, the votes she wins will help the Greens become successful in future elections, not somehow propel her to the presidency in this one. But the former Sanders supporters whose mindsets I'm respectfully calling into question just don't want to hear that. As one of my wiser colleagues Michael Sparks put what I'm talking about:
Today I'm seeing a lot of people in my feed saying that they are giving up on politics.
This is my greatest fear.
This is exactly what the establishment wants.
Bernie Sanders laid out an exact plan for us to win and spoke it to stadiums and backyards for 14 months.
Everyone screamed and went crazy, but I don't think very many were actually listening.
I think they heard...
"When I become President everything will be amazing!!"
When what he really said was...
"Not me, US!!"
"When millions of people stand together..."
"Change has always happened from the bottom up."
Bernie hasn't changed.
You have.
You were a poser revolutionary and now you expose yourself daily with your
"Bernie betrayed us" lies.
I can tell you were the ones who weren't listening.
They are now the ones who think that Jill Stein is going to be President and "everything will be amazing!!"
They are repeating the same pattern.
They aren't revolutionaries.
They are just looking for the next cult of personality.
They liked Bernie because he was a rock star and they like Jill for the same reasons.
When Bernie was cheated and told them that we could still win if we kept working, they turned on him and put Jill upon the same pedestal that they knocked Bernie off of.
On November 8, when Jill doesn't win a single state, these people will all cry about the rigged system and then quit politics with a bitter taste in their mouth.
They will be sitting on a bar stool twenty years from now complaining about how the whole world is a big setup.
They refuse to accept that change happens from the bottom up, because that is too much work.
These people aren't suited for the war of attrition that is politics.
Those of you who are intent on making actual change by overhauling your local government, I salute you.
You were the ones listening, in between the roars, in those crowded stadiums.
But soon, whether these people were listening or not, they'll no longer be able to afford to wallow in disappointment and refuse to be politically involved. Because for a while, they literally won't be able to afford many other luxuries.

Let's travel back to another moment when many were filled with the belief that one leader could fix everything: eight years ago. You remember that time, don't you? This amazing figure Barack Obama, who came into most of our lives only a year ago, had toppled the Clinton machine and was on his way to creating a new paradigm in human history. In his Democratic convention speech, his words felt like they spoke to us more than any others from a politician in recent memory: "America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this."

And Obama would soon have a very good opportunity to prove that he meant it. When much of America's banking system became undone in the month of September, President Bush, who's empty mind had been filled with banking industry propaganda during the past few months by his Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, proposed a bailout for the Wall Street firms. The way the administration first introduced the bill to the senate made it clear that all later claims of a bailout being necessary to save the economy were false; on September 18, Paulson told members of congress that should they fail to meet the bankers' extravagant demands, the entire world economy would crash "within 24 hours."

The plan was so clearly unreasonable that 95 House Democrats shot it down. But when Paulson rewrote it to seem like something that was simply meant to help homeowners, and presented it in a less suspicious manner, the House and the Senate were on board. Or at least those of them who's political careers depended on donations from the same banks that wanted them to pass the measure. On October 1, when the Senate vote was being negotiated, Obama, who's campaign's second largest contributor was Goldman Sachs, made the best case he could for it, one that was mostly based on the claim that there would be an independent oversight committee to make sure that the banks would pay back the money to taxpayers.

But even after Senator Bernie Sanders (someone you may have heard of) made a solid case against it, informing his colleagues that the committee was not independent at all but handpicked to make it likely to let the banks off, nobody listened. The Senate approved the so-called Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, and after the House did the same two days later, Bush listened to what the grown-ups had told him and signed it into law.

But unlike the president, Obama was aware of what would come from his support of the bill. And we knew it; our anointed savior had quite literally sold us out, redistributing $700 billion of the taxes we payed to the nation's top bankers so that they could make the banking industry into an unregulatable monopoly that controlled far too much of the nation's wealth.

And yet, instead of switching to the Green Party, we continued to assume that change would simply happen on its own and kept Obama, and his party, afloat for the next eight years.

And the consequences of our mistakes are about to hit us. Hard.

Had a party that isn't corrupted by corporate interests been voted into prominence since 2008, the damage of the bailouts would be undone by now. The banks would have been broken up, their executives would have been forced to pay their fair share in taxes, and the money that they had stolen from the middle class in 2008-and for the past four decades-would have been returned to its rightful owners. But the opposite has happened; in spite of Obama's Dodd-Frank Act, the economy is now more financialized than ever, with the big banks sharing about a fourth of the country's corporate profits.

This is a disaster in the making. The 2008 crisis was so bad partly because the banks had become so powerful after the Clinton deregulations that when they went down, the effect on the overall market was far bigger than it had been in previous downturns. But now the economy is stuck in a dangerous cycle of accelerated peaks, which are always followed by a massive collapse.

And we've recently passed the latest peak.

Since late July, the stock market has been experiencing its least active period in twenty years. This is the most dramatic result of the many factors behind it; housing and stock prices have reached about the same level as they did in early 2007. And according to monetary historian Mike Maloney, this means that a possibly unprecedented event is fast approaching. "This is the peak," he said on August 29. "We have passed the peak of the bubble. It's now deflating. There is usually a little tiny roll over and then a huge crash. And the little tiny roll over is just starting right now. We are seeing it first in the top end (like luxury real estate), where the currency that was created by the central banks went to that 0.1% first. Within the next few years you are going to see probably the greatest crash in history. I have often said that the crisis of 2008 was just a speed bump on the way to the main event. We are in the process right now of seeing this unwind."

And that's not the only part of our economy that's being run unsustainably. As a result of the drop in fossil fuel prices that's occurred in the past few years as a consequence of increased alternative energy use, much of the fossil fuel industry is soon expected to go bankrupt. This alone, says Prestige Economics president Jason Schenker, could very well cause a recession sometime in the next few months that surpasses the magnitude of the one in 2008.

And here we are, on the brink of catastrophe, arguing about the a presidential candidate who left the race more than a month ago. I'm sorry I didn't come to you with a piece that offered nothing but encouragement and hope for the future, but the dark prophecy I just exposed you to is necessary to precede such material.

When this crash hits-which, I believe, will start sometime very soon indeed-it will serve as a wake up call for most Americans. All of a sudden, people will be directly faced with the fact that there is something deeply wrong with the system. What will they do then? Will the types of former Bernie people I mentioned stop feeling beaten down by the system and step up to change it for themselves? Will the Hillary people and the middle-class part of the Republican electorate stop pretending that the system works and join the Bernie people in revolt? Will the Trump people stop blaming their economic problems on scapegoats like foreigners and Muslims and turn against the class of Trump himself, who are the real culprits?

Some of them will. But in the short term, at least, I suspect that not even an economic collapse cannot jolt many of these Americans out of their stubborn preconceptions about how to approach their country's problems. That does not mean, however, that those of us who will be awake during those times should give up. Me, Bernie Sanders, and the rest of them will be the only ones fighting the all-important battle against the new Wall Street bailouts that Obama and friends will be pursuing, and the neoliberal order that's behind all of it.

So I ask of the Sanders supporters who abandoned Bernie's cause to stew in their unnecessary feelings of hopelessness: snap out of it. We need you. And if you do the work that will be necessary in the coming months and years, you'll be rewarded with something perhaps even greater than a President Sanders or Stein: change on all levels.


  1. Excellent article. I laughed out loud!

  2. I disagree that you've passed "a test" if you've accepted Bernie's decision. Frankly, I believe that the only decision Bernie made was to keep his family alive. It broke my heart to see him with a gash and bruises on his face during the roll call at the DNC. Bernie deserves supporters who will not let this corrupt system keep him as a POW and will challenge that their fairly elected nominee, was stolen from them. To accept the fraud who took Bernie's place and move on is cowardly and frankly, beyond betrayal. It shocks me how many people were willing to accept Bernie's "U" turn and get angry with him. I knew immediately something had gone down. We've seen 6 deaths over the summer related to the Clintons and we have irrefutable evidence that Bernie won the Dem. primaries nationwide by about 15 points. No need to count delegates or consult a superdelegate. HE WON! From what some insiders have suggested, we're lucky Bernie is alive. Jill Stein is a cheap replacement and as you've pointed out; she can't win. Bernie never told us he could fix our ills, but he did promise he'd be in partnership with the American people: #NotMeUs Jill never said such a thing. I've looked for years for Greens to vote for on my ballot. Guess what? They have no interest in bottom up politics. They want the top dog positions without any experience in public service or they want nothing at all. We do need a third party, perhaps the Progressive People's Party that is starting? But not the Greens. When I've questioned during every voting cycle why they have no candidates in races I'm told they are plagued by sabotage inside their organization.. I am NOT supporting Jill Stein. Her tactics offend me. I'm working myself to death to get Bernie on the ballots for a write in campaign; while sending letters demanding Clinton be held accountable for her crimes. I've already found an arcane law that will put him on the write in ballot in CA. I suspect other states have the same laws, but no one is calling them and demanding to know what they are. Are we going to experience another terrible recession? Possibly worse? Many say yes. But I am focused on our Democratic right to fair elections having been stolen from us. If we don't fight back on that issue right now, we have NOTHING but fascism staring us in the face when everything falls apart. #BernieOrBust2016 #StillSanders

    1. Please see my comments below for a link to a serious election integrity citizens movement that has tools and training and a plan for identifying where election manipulation or fraud occurred and actions citizens can take. Uh, THAT would be a revolutionary act. Courage. I guarantee, if Hillary has to step down because of health issues, and the Dems try to replace her with someone OTHER than Bernie, I PERSONALLY will lead round 2 of the DEMEXIT just before the November elections. They will have earned it.

  3. Too many people confuse 'The Movement' with 'The Sanders Presidential Campaign'. Sure, there was a lot of overlap, but the movement predates the campaign by years.

    Sanders has always been an ally of this movement and will continue to be one. But we must go on with or without him.

    The pitchforks are coming.

  4. What we have failed to address at all, again, making it someone else's responsibility (in this case Bernie's) is the absolute lack of safeguards for election integrity. The Carter Center has stated that among the major democratic nations we have the LEAST SECURE ELECTIONS OF ANY! This is nuts. What kind of revolution just sits back and complains "The elections are rigged." and allows that to continue when it is perfectly within our power to correct that. It is OUR VOTES being stolen. Bernie should be taking on the DNC for violations of their contract and for any evidence that they were involved in collaborating with states on deliberate voter suppression or manipulation of polling places etc. But we HAVE the tools to challenge the rampant election fraud that occurred. It doesn't necessarily require lawyers, although once we have the evidence it may be wise to consult with them on the best route. But citizen activist groups in CA are requesting civil grand jury investigation into some of the malfeasance there. Another activist group in San Diego DID take Michael Vu and the County of San Diego to court for multiple violations...and WON. That group, headed by Ray Lutz have developed citizen tools known as snapshot audits to help identify particular counties or precincts where fraud occurred. He has free online training sessions for people, He has also started a really ambitious project and desperately needs citizen volunteers to help set up these local semi-autonomous investigative groups throughout the country. He has identified the 175 counties which have 50% of the voting population. Obviously these are urban areas with many precincts. He is looking for teams in each state to do these snapshot audits and practices in place for things like secure chain of custody for ballots and tabulation units.

    I don't know about you all but this "scare" the Democratic Party is purporting about the Russians hacking our elections and the possibility of our elections being under the oversight of the frigging Dept.of Homeland Security scares the crap out of me!! Decades ago, when they were trying to encourage more people to vote, the federal government spent a large sum of money purchasing voting machines and updated equipment for states to distribute where needed. What's unfortunate is that a lot of those were Diebold machines, notorious for hacking, and with proprietary source code information that the company refuses to let anyone eveluate. ENTIRELY POSSIBLE that quite a few of our elections since then have been manipulated. Lutz (who is a mechanical engineer by trade and systems analyst) recommends we go back to paper ballots with optical scanners which are relatively inexpensive and, along with proper chain of custody of ballots and memory cards allow much better analysis of actual voter's ballots and intent if there is a question that has thrown their ballot into the provisional (or as Greg Palast calls them "placebo") ballots. The number of ballots tossed out because of procedural details, when the voter's intent was clear, is staggering. We HAVE to take charge of our elections. And I think this mass movement we have going right now, with a little training, are the perfect people to do it, as opposed to partisan election officials. Please help spread the word about this major project he has going. As the snapshot audits might also show where election integrity failed in the PRIMARIES and likely skewed results, it has a two-fold benefit...identifying potential mistabulation of the primary votes, and also protecting elections in November. That will be REALLY important for the Revolution downballot candidates making it into local, state and federal office. Thanks!