Thursday, April 21, 2016

In Memoriam

My favorite FDR moment arrived during a speech he gave in New York City just before the 1936 presidential election.

Addressing those who felt his New Deal policies served him better than they did the country, as well as those who simply disliked him on principle, Roosevelt thundered “They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.”

It was one of the strongest, most-galvanizing statements I ever heard a Democrat make. It reeked of defiance and purpose. Hearing it again in the midst of the Obama presidency, it seemed strangely powerful and provoked this question:

Given congressional Republican's abject refusal to even consider anything emanating from his administration, why haven't we heard similar words from the Obama White House?

Yes, Obama has faced protracted and entrenched resistance for most of his presidency. He could have invented sex and Republicans would just say they got screwed.

On the other hand, he too often played the role of Republican appeaser rather than the world's most powerful Democrat, and this was true before the GOP's takeover of Congress. Obama never grasped the dynamic at work, and squandered a fortune in political capital in the process.

It's no wonder frustrated Democrats (myself included) flocked to Bernie Sanders.

True, Sanders was soft on guns. And we're only too aware of his oft-ridiculed notion of free college tuition.

Yet Bernie Sanders was the sole candidate addressing the outrages perpetuated by our corporate banks and Wall Street and big business in general. Of the relentless march of corporate greed and its devastating consequences.

Sanders shone a very bright light on the corrosive effects of big money on politics, and came thisclose to upending the conventional campaign model. Sanders moved Hillary Clinton's campaign decidedly to the left, which never would have happened otherwise.

He made Clinton a stronger Democratic candidate.

I am deeply saddened his campaign is all but over. He was that rare presidential candidate who inspired something as opposed to merely being the lesser of two evils. He was bold. He was different. He had ideas.

He wasn't the latest media-approved brand name our simple-minded culture could digest. If you believe Donald Trump is a rebel, and that by voting for him you are too, think again. He's a billionaire reality TV star. A celebrity. 

It doesn't get any hoarier. (Pun intended.)

Bernie was our best chance to slow the nation's unquestioning lurch to the right. Our best chance to combat what increasingly appears to be an emerging corporate-run police state, a dystopia fueled by slave labor yielding grotesque wealth for an even more-grotesque sliver of the population.

A nation which cuts the Three Musketeers' ethos of “All for one and one for all” in half.

The best we can hope for is that Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign was a door opening, and not one closing.

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