Featuring essays by Elizabeth George on the future of our country
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A LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
MEA CULPA
GIVE THE GOP A LANDSLIDE VICTORY
THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
PART II
THE ELEPHANT, THE ROOM, AND THE PEOPLE
PART I
MONEY GRUBBING FEMALES, UNITE!
WE AREN’T ELECTING A HOMECOMING QUEEN
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN
THE TOOTSIE ISSUE
Toddlers 4 President!
CRYING BABIES AND OTHER PRESSING MATTERS OF STATE
Democratic Convention 2016: How It Might Have Been
I’D LIKE TO FEEL THE BERN, ONLY…
AN UNFORTUNATE REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST
On Matters of the Lie, the War, and Judgment
EGO, POLITICS, AND THE PRESIDENCY
On Getting What We Deserve
HOW JANUARY 2017 WILL LOOK
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EGO, POLITICS, AND THE PRESIDENCY

Fairly consistently, I’ve received two unusual replies from the supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders when I’ve asked the question: “But how is he going to get any of this done?” One reply has been “Give him a chance.” The other has been “You’ve got to start somewhere.”

In the area of giving the Senator a chance to remake the US in his vision, I’ve found myself wondering why—in his more than 20 years in the Senate—Mr. Sanders hasn’t made any significant inroad to bring about change. He has, after all, been sitting in a body of elected government officials who are charged with the responsibility of designing and passing legislation for the betterment and the protection of the country, its citizens, and its resources, so it seems reasonable to wonder why he hasn’t managed to chip away at any of the goals he has stated as his presidential objectives. One might argue that a single senator without the backing of other powerful senators can never make an enormous difference, and one can add to that argument that a President—unlike a Senator-- has the bully pulpit and a mandate from those who elected him to pave the way to change. But that hasn’t proved to be the case for President Obama who swept to landslide victories in 2008 and 2012, and nothing so far suggests that a successful Bernie Sanders campaign would result in a landslide victory similar to Obama’s anyway. Besides, after more than twenty years in the Senate, shouldn’t we expect Bernie Sanders to have the overwhelming support of his fellow senatorial Democrats at the very least? And since he doesn’t have that support, aren’t those same senators tacitly informing the voters that giving Bernie Sanders a chance is akin to admiring the emperor’s clothes?

No one has been able to point out to me how Bernie’s social, political, economic, and educational changes are going to occur without the backing of his Congressional fellows. I forgive all silence from individual admirers of Bernie Sanders on this point, but I’ve been having a great deal of trouble coping with the Senator’s own silence in this matter. Indeed, in these last few weeks, I’ve begun to think that the truly well-meaning Senator has been somehow seduced by the adulation of his supporters, taking from them a form of succor that has, in his mind, eliminated the need for specifics. It’s either that or he just isn’t a detail man. Or he expects someone else to come up with the details. Or he sees as his main purpose merely the revelation of critical national issues and needs, and he expects the citizenry to demand that their Senators and Congressmen do something about these issues and needs. I don’t know what the truth is, but because the Senator’s list of objectives is so impressive, I find that I require more details in order to “give him a chance” because my reply to “give him a chance” is “a chance to do what, exactly?” Right now he’s calling for one impressive nuclear blast of change in the form of a revolution. But when you call for a revolution, you do need armaments of some kind, and talking about how many donors you have and where you stand in the polls does not, in my mind, equate to political weaponry.

In the area of people telling me “You’ve got start somewhere,” I admit to being completely flummoxed. What on earth does that mean? Does it mean that voting for a visionary Senator with only one supporter in the Senate is striking a defining blow for social, political, economic, and educational change? How can that be?

Here is what I find curious about Bernie Sanders’s run for the Presidency: While not offering a single suggestion as to how he will achieve anything, he has for months persisted in listing the social, political, economic, and educational changes he has planned for the country, and so far no one has wanted to point out that what he’s done is to create a veritable smorgasbord of promises fashioned to appeal to as many people as possible, all of whom have different reasons for voting for him, all of whom apparently believe that theirs is the issue that will be the one which represents “you have to start somewhere.” I’m beginning to think that he hasn’t told his followers the truth about his failure to garner political support in the Legislative branch of government because he can’t afford to do so. Instead what he has said is that with a Sanders Presidency, the following dream scenarios will become a reality:

Free education for everyone through college or university
Free healthcare for all
Election reform
The repeal of Citizens United
Income tax reform
The breaking up of the banks-too-big-to-fail
Wall Street reform
An end to the death penalty
Inheritance tax reform
An end to US involvement in the panoply of Middle East wars (although just today—April 24th at the time of this writing—he told MSNBC in a live interview that as president he would ask Congress to authorize military action in the Middle East)

Here’s what I think may have happened to Senator Sanders: I think that initially he saw himself as the candidate who would force the hands of the other politicians in order to bring to the table issues that he has had no success in addressing during all his years in the Senate. On the broader stage of a national election, he would be heard in ways that he had never been heard each time he proposed the same legislation that did not pass. If he was successful enough, he stood a real chance of garnering sufficient attention to encourage the electorate to look up, take notice, stand up, and make some demands about what the future of the country ought to be. What he didn’t expect is what happened: the tsunami of support in the persons of the tens of thousands who started showing up at his rallies, with the hope that this man would put an end to their backbreaking college debt or would put an end to the death penalty or would force the Supreme Court to overturn Citizens United or would end the wars in the Middle East or would reform elections or would break up big banks or would sock it to Wall Street or would force corporations to stop paying their CEOs obscenely high salaries. In other words, he didn’t expect to end up with tens of thousands of supporters all with differing needs and differing objectives and now that he has them, what’s he to do?
I don’t expect him to step away from the primary season. He has no reason to do so, and I wouldn’t want him to. But since he doesn’t appear to have any palpable process for fulfilling the hopes and dreams and aspirations of his supporters, I think it might be the way of wisdom for him to stop massaging his ego with reference to his standings “in the polls,” to stop castigating Hillary Clinton for her vote on the war (especially since he has now said he would ask Congress to authorize military action in the Middle East) and to cease suggesting that Hillary Clinton has committed a nefarious act because she gave a speech to some Wall Street people and was paid to do so. Indeed, if he wants to continue in the primary with the hope of taking the rest of the states and managing to convince the super delegates to move their support from Hillary onto him, he might want to ask someone—anyone—on his team to create a new speech for him, this one rich in details and containing reassurances that there is nothing at all to be concerned about in the scorched earth nuclear explosion of change he’s recommending.

Or, I suppose, he could continue as he’s been doing, telling people that a new day is dawning, a new society is about to be born, and the playing field is about to be leveled. And the only thing necessary to bring this about is casting a vote for the elderly, stoop- shouldered man banging on at the lectern, backed by American flags and five rows of people willing to smile for the cameras. Vote for him and all will be well. Or will it?

In the words of a far greater writer than I will ever be: “Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so?”

- Elizabeth George
Whidbey Island
Washington State

 

 
 

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