Tuesday, January 26, 2016
When you come to the fork in the road, take it
After watching the Democratic "Town Hall Meeting" last night, I now see why Bernie Sanders is surging and Hillary Clinton is lagging. Oh, and there was that other guy there, too, Merlin O'Grady.
Bernie gets it. He's genuine, down-to-earth, and transparent. He oozes integrity. He has tapped in to those issues that are bugging the other 99%, or 90%, or wherever the dividing line is between the have's and have not's. This is that dangerous divide I predicted would eventually come to be when inequality between the two became a solidly entrenched "us vs them". This is a wake up call. Right now it's just a "political revolution". Unchecked, it could someday become a violent revolution.
To be polite, Bernie has "socialist leanings". He admits he likes the European model of social welfare: universal medical care, child care, pensions, etc. To those who say Bernie's agenda is "pie in the sky", he says no it isn't. He points out that such a social platform already exists in much of the advanced world, and he's right. But IMO he's ahead of his time....he misses one important historical difference.
Over the 30 years between the end of WWI and WWII, Europe convulsed and imploded. Europe was missing two generations of workers and breadwinners. Their cities and economies were in ruins. The survivors were beaten down. They were simply too exhausted and impoverished to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, as we Americans like to say. They were ready to let government take care of them, hence their socialist inclinations.
America emerged from both World Wars relatively unscathed. We certainly, sadly, suffered hundreds of thousands of causalities, but they paled to the number of causalities suffered by the European warring nations. And those wars were actually a tremendous boon for our infrastructure and economy. We emerged richer and more powerful than we could have ever imagined. We had a can-do spirit, the feeling that there were no limits on our imagination and where we could go. We didn't need government to look after us....indeed we wanted government to get out of our way!
That worked fairly well for most, but not well at all for a few others. The majority ruled, and we steamrolled ahead. But over time the schism widened, and more and more began to fall behind. Regardless of why, fewer and fewer climbed higher and higher, while more and more found themselves stuck in place or sliding backward. It's at this point when too many lose hope of a better future for themselves and their children that they begin to listen to non-traditional American ideas, like those coming from Bernie Sanders.
I believe it was that great American philosopher, Jerry Lewis, who once said "United we stand, divided we fall". Judging by the large, enthusiastic crowds who attend Bernie's campaign rallies, it seems many Americans are today where many Europeans were in the late 1940's: ready for government to step in and provide. That is clearly (to me) where we're headed....but we're not quite there yet.
It's a numbers game. Unchecked, the masses will prevail. There is a lot of historical precedence to support this. The American political / economic aristocracy should take note. They would be wise to put their greed aside, reach out, and try to get the majority of Americans back on the gravy train with them instead of picking their pockets.
In a few words: "A little piece of a big pie is better than a big piece of NO pie."
EDIT: Plain English....Populist politicians are no doubt watching what Bernie is saying, and how it is being received. Bernie will fall short IMO in 2016, but 10 (?) years from now, if the conservatives don't wise up and squash their ultra-radical conservative faction and become a more inclusive party where everyone can thrive and prosper, Bernie's revolution will become reality. Fair warning.