Monday, May 9, 2016

Week of 05/09/2016

My Problem With... Bernie Sanders
(Note: This is the continuation of the ongoing look at the candidates that make up the 2016 Farce.  Each of the “dominant” candidates will be examined.  The author will not entertain nor permit anyone to try to negate the focus of each candidate by saying “X is bad but Y is even worse” because they all are bad in their own way.  Each will have their turn to be examined and castigated, and you probably will not like it when it is your candidate’s turn.)
A funny thing happened the other week.
Thirty-nine hours after I published the first of “My Problem With...” articles focusing on the candidates themselves, the subject of my focus, pompous Texas Senator and “God’s Anointed Candidate” Ted Cruz dropped out of the running after having his ass handed to him in the Indiana Primary.  And almost fifteen hours after that, Ohio Governor John Kasich also dropped out, leaving the GOP in the hands of the last surviving candidate, “The Ego” Donald Trump.
That caused me to seriously change my lineup of candidates to focus on, partially because Kasich is gone, but also because all indications are that it is going to become a two-candidate race really quick. 
So I decided to focus on this next candidate in the 2016 Farce not because he’s in the same league or in the same notoriety as Cruz, but because I wanted to say what needs to be said about him now while he still is a candidate in the running (at least as of this article’s posting).
I have a problem with Vermont Senator and presidential wannabe Bernie Sanders.
The funny thing is... I really don’t have a problem with him, per se.
Senator Sanders, or “Bernie” as most people refer to him as, is a long-time old school liberal in Vermont by way of New York.  He is so old school that he really was part of the Civil Rights movement, which may seem strange considering he’s a geriatric Jewish Caucasian, but not really strange if you know your history like I do.
Bernie describes himself as a “democratic socialist”, which, in the zero-sum minds of conservatives and neo-conservatives and the Fox News/Talk Radio world simply means “pinko-socialist-communist-Satanist-Muslim-Atheist-blah-blah-blah-evil”.  But, in truth, a “democratic socialist” is what President Lyndon Johnson championed in the 1960’s with his “Great Society” programs.  It’s what President Franklin Roosevelt championed in the 1930’s and 40’s with his “New Deal”, along with the “Second Bill of Rights” idea that he wanted to implement but couldn’t because he died.
The best way to describe Bernie is to borrow a line from Green Arrow in the animated series “Justice League Unlimited” when he said “Look, I'm an old lefty. The government must do for people what people can't do for themselves.”  You look at the things that Bernie supports and you’ll find that statement behind each one of them.
Now we can have a discussion about the incompetence of government in keeping us safe from terrorists and from nuclear weapons and from our own drinking water.  We can talk about the failings of the Affordable Care Act, which Bernie is taking credit for helping craft, and I’ll get to that in a minute.  We can talk about Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid failing the American people when they need it the most.  We can talk about the budget and the national debt and how bad they continue to get no matter which party has control of the federal purse-strings.  And I’m sure Bernie would love to have that discussion about it and how to address these things.
It's just that he won’t be able to do so as President of the United States.  At least not this time around.
And my problem with Bernie isn’t that he wants that discussion, but that he’s not even being given the chance to have that kind of discussion with the American people.
You see, Bernie is so much of an old school liberal that he couldn’t even get elected to Congress as a member of the Democratic Party!  He was actually elected as an independent in 1988 and continued to be elected and re-elected as an independent until he “officially” joined the Democrats in 2015, not long before announcing his candidacy.
As you can imagine, that does not sit well with the Democratic National Committee. 
The DNC seems to be firmly in the back pocket of their “destiny” candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, just like they were back in 2008.  But, unlike 2008, they don’t want to see anyone deprive their BFF Hillary from her “destiny” like Barack Obama did before.  Now I’ll get to our modern-day Lady Macbeth in due time, but, sufficient to say, Bernie’s biggest problem is the fact that he isn’t going along with the carefully-crafted political script by the DNC and Secretary Clinton.
Even the media isn’t giving him a break.  From day one, any time the members of the air-fluffed ego-driven news media even think about him, they regurgitate the DNC script saying that he shouldn’t even be running, that he can’t win, that there is no chance he could even come close to winning the White House, never mind get that party’s nomination.  “Why can’t he just quit and endorse Hillary Clinton”, they ask him.  So much for them being impartial seekers of the truth!
They can’t even grasp how people continue to show up at his rallies, how he can generate countless millions in campaign donations from regular people, how he can show up in polls saying that he can defeat every single GOP contender past and present (unlike Hillary), or how he could continue to win in state primaries and caucuses.  They continue to just regurgitate the DNC script saying Hillary is “inevitable”, and Bernie “can’t win” because wants to give people “free stuff”, and they demand that Bernie just get out, give up, and endorse Hillary.
And yet, let’s get brutally honest here... Bernie Sanders is everything that the Democrats should be standing for and should be supporting!  They’re already being crucified by the cons and neocons and Fox News and talk radio and the newspaper editorials over these stances.  But instead of owning up to it, and owning up to the things that Bernie supports, the Dems surrender and cower to the noisiest and angriest of demagogues.  And now they’re wondering why the masses, including the very independent voters that supported Barack Obama twice, are flocking to Bernie instead of Lady Macbeth!  Don’t they know that she’s “inevitable”?
Of course, I don’t think Bernie is a saint.  He had a few actual flaws of his own.
Let’s talk for a minute about the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare”, when, really, this should have been called “Forced Insurance”, which is what it really is for the American people.  Bernie is telling people that he helped craft the ACA, and that he doesn’t want to replace it, but add to it.  Given the kind of mess that the ACA is right now and how a lot of ordinary people are not happy with how it turned out, I don’t think this is something one would want to take credit for.  It’s like taking credit for writing “Batman & Robin” and coming up with the Bat-nipples and the Bat-Credit-Card.  What bothers me is that taking credit for helping to craft the ACA is pretty much taking credit to forcing people to buy insurance and make Big Insurance even more wealthy.  That’s uncharacteristic of someone normally condemning big corporations for their greed.
It also didn’t help him when he let the activist group Black Lives Matter sabotage his podium in 2015.  It was wrong, they should not have been allowed anywhere near the microphone, and he should have taken the opportunity to lecture them on what he’s been fighting for and that what they were doing was wrong.  It doesn’t exactly show “presidential” qualities to let your platform be taken over like that.  Then again, no big surprise, they liked Hillary.
That’s not the first time Bernie let others bully him around.  There have been numerous instances of protesters interrupting Clinton and Trump rallies claiming to support Bernie.  To his credit, he does condemn their actions, but it is pretty clear that the media wants to pin it on him as part of their ongoing bias in Hillary’s favor.  They have no regard for the truth; only what they can do to help in fulfilling Hillary’s “destiny”.  And, again, it’s not very presidential, but, then again, very little is in this 2016 Farce.
But the one thing I have to give Bernie credit for is that he is speaking to those that have been screwed over by the Big Banks and Big Corporate and Big Pharma and Big Insurance and Wall Street.  He’s speaking out to those who are underwater on their mortgages and are under a mountain of student loan debts and are struggling to make ends meet while corporate execs make more and more money.  He’s the one saying “it’s not right and we need to do something about it” while everyone else wants to blame the victims of the Great Recession.
Oh, and the idea that Bernie is offering “free stuff” is nothing more than yet another big lie.  There is no such thing as “free stuff”.  It’s just a matter of who pays for it and how.  I graduated from a public high school, but it wasn’t “free education”.  My parents still paid for it through taxes.  The police aren’t “free”.  We pay for that.  Same with the fire department.  That’s not “free”.  We have to pay for those things.  The roads we drive on aren’t “free”.  Hell, we even pay extra for those here in Georgia thanks to those Special Local-Option Sales Taxes.  Do we call the bullets our soldiers use and the bombs we drop from drones for all our wars “free”?  No, we pay for those too.  Did you know that until a few years ago, we were still paying for the Spanish-American War?  So why is calling for taxpayer-funded college education like we currently do for high schools considered “free”?  Why is the idea of calling taxpayer-funded healthcare “free” when we still pay for police and fire services?  It’s just K-Street-generated political lies.  Nothing more.
I know this is going to sound strange coming from a libertarian, but I really hope that Bernie stays in the race all the way to the convention.  Because as long as he is there and in the running, he is doing something that the Dems really need, and that is to keep the politically and financially disenfranchised riled up and interested in the political process.  And it would also keep Hillary from being... well, from being Hillary.  She wouldn’t be able to abandon the very masses she needs to complete her so-called “destiny” as long as Bernie is keeping them riled up. 
Would that make Bernie a political “spoiler”?  No more than Pat Buchanan was for the GOP in 1996.  And maybe that’s the ultimate point of Bernie’s campaign.  It’s not to be a spoiler as much as he’s trying to keep the Dems honest when they need that the most.

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