The world is changing again. Instead of a 40-something running for President, we have two 60 or 70-somethings. Maybe it takes that long to learn that being purchased by a billionaire is not the only way to run for President.
The most significant event of the current 2016 run for the Presidency on either side (except for amateur night on the GOP side) is the revolution in government being suggested by Senator Bernard Sanders from Vermont. Long known as a Socialist, in recent years, at least after entering the Senate, he has become a force for true Populism in government. He is attempting to move the Centrist Clinton supporters to the Left, as well as the former Secretary of State herself. And why has this somewhat obscure and hardly ambitious Senator from a small state entered the race for President? Because these are critical times.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan was elected as the first Conservative, new Conservative as opposed to the old Reactionary conservatives, in about 60 years. His policies were simple. The rich paid too much in taxes and lower taxes on the rich would generate more spending and eventually greater tax revenues. It never happened. It was, as George H.W. Bush said, “voodoo economics.” But once the rich and the major corporations got their hands on the levers of power that they gobbled up during the Reagan and Bush the Elder and Smarter administrations, there was no return to rationality.
In 1987, Reagan approved the removal of the Fairness Doctrine and we were on our way to propaganda as truth, money as votes, and any idiot as an elected (or purchased) official. We have seen the results in the disastrous Bush/Cheney administration and in the astonishing array of malapropos who contend with each other in vulgarity for the Fascist/Republican presidential candidacy. Without the Fairness Doctrine, no one on radio or television was obliged to tell the truth. Soon the Rush Limbaughs of the world were hired by Texas oilmen and the leaders of the Republican Party. Truth went out the window and politics became lies combined with entertainment. Soon, and to this day, many Americans simply believed the lies and with no one to contradict them, the money poured in to more and more Right Wing commentators. Today Conservative commentators, actually Neo-Fascists, make up 91% of all AM radio radio programming.
By the time Reagan had left office, an $900 billion national debt had been nearly tripled to $2.6 trillion debt and the tax structure set up to create what turned out to be a $4 trillion national debt by the time his successor left office four years later. The bleeding did not stop there. At the end of the Clinton administration, the debt growth had been slowed dramatically but was still $5.6 trillion when Bush the Dumber took office. He took us to $10 trillion in 8 years and left us in a Depression. The first two years of that Depression, 2009 and 2010, gave us annual deficits of $1.9 trillion and $1.6 trillion respectively. So the national debt by the beginning of 2011 had grown by $7 trillion to nearly $12 trillion dollars. During the rest of the decade, with a Republican House and a Republican Senate, the deficits have continued. President Obama has cut government spending, incorporated many offices into few, and found ways to live with a 10% across-the-board sequester that produced non-stop havoc for at least two years until huge government commitments could be adjusted.
So here we are, with Republicans in office and “stupid” (that is the only word for us) Americans voting to create more billionaires while they spend all their excess money to try to eliminate both Social Security and Medicare as we know them. They want to privatize both. If there were any rational Republicans left in office, that might be something we would at least consider evaluating. But we now have an entire Congress made up of ultra-Right Wing Fascists like Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert, Steve King, Virginia Foxx, Peter Roskam, Mitch McConnell and numerous others whose only allegiance is to the Citizens United PACs that fund their elections over far more qualified, Populist candidates. The NRA and the Koch Brothers, both of whom would probably like to see dissenters either shot or imprisoned now have won the battle, using money and the ability to lie repeatedly on television and radio, both of which the Right Wing controls completely.
When we say “control” let’s understand what we mean very clearly. Since Citizens United, the Koch Brothers alone spent over $400 million in the 2012 election through their myriad of special interest groups, like Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and others, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and the Washington Post. They pledged another roughly $100 million in 2014 and quite likely spent three times that much at the very least.
So what is wrong with Hillary Clinton as candidate? Well, let’s say what is not wrong with her. She is honest, for a politician, and has good intentions. She is experienced, which means that she does not have unrealistic expectations. (Which means that if you tell the truth all the time, you would insult half the population today and the other half tomorrow.) She is centrist and yet Liberal. She appeals to Independents who say that they want good jobs, reasonable costs of living, and social services inexpensive, at least in retirement. They are willing to be taxed to pay for them. On the other hand they want a reasonable plan to reduce the national debt over time. She appeals to middle-of-the-road voters—and there are still many of them—who understand the numbers. They know that the Republicans are obstructing progress and want someone who will fight to move things forward. They see Hillary Clinton as the most practical solution—electable, rational and smart enough to find ways to use the levers of power to get things done.
So what’s the problem? Congress is the problem, certainly since the advent of Citizen’s United, and since the strong takeover of the majority of state governments by real Neo-Fascists. These are state legislators, often attorneys who either failed in private practice or were too lazy to do the difficult work of negotiating the law for private citizens and commercial organizations. They have been elected with outside funds from corporations and do not want dissent or complications in their careers. They have and want one-party rule, (99% of ALEC members are Republicans.) They are generally racist, have obligations to political Pacs and not the public that elected them, worship the rich and are cynical beyond anything we have ever known of politicians in this country’s history.
Let’s back up a second. Let’s remember some facts, the reality of life in the United States before the outrageous Donald Trump succeeds in turning a Presidential political campaign into a reality show. Real people—real, elected, supposedly responsible politicians—on January 20, 2009 gathered in a local upscale Washington D.C. eating establishment to do whatever was in their power, they agreed, to destroy the Presidency of Barack Obama, and distort and obstruct the will of the American People. Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren, Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign, Bob Corker, and one non-elected creep, Newt Gingrich all gathered to seek ways to obstruct the entire political agenda for 2009-to 2012. From early in 2009, particularly in the attempt to prevent all Americans from having access to health care, the Neo-Fascist Republican Party voted in lock-step, not allowing dissent, vicious in their support of racist organizations, and White Supremacist private weapons and private militia advocates. Since President Obama took office the number of white supremacist groups has increased. The number went over 1000 for a few years then fell but grew in recent months, hovering around that number, apparently having taken heart in the comments and under-the-radar re-tweets by Donald Trump of hate dialogue from white nationalist groups.
So where are we? We have an obstructive Congress, locked into their elective positions by a horrendous money-equals-free speech ruling from the Supreme Court that has brought billionaires directly into conflict, with a good chance of winning, with the People. If the People want gun control by 80% but the hundred or less gun manufacturers who use their lobbying money to reward Right Wing politicians want none, the handful of gun manufacturers win. Even if we killed tens of thousands of people each day, and we do that, not daily, but weekly, from gun violence in this country, we would not be able to stop it. The reason is simple. The obstruction of Republicans in Congress vote down all anti-gun-proliferation laws without any discussion. It is as if Sandy Hook, and the murder of six-year-old children means nothing to them. (We are being fair. They are all against it. They vote for the NRA in a bloc. No Republican has voted for gun regulation in recent memory.)
Let’s also be clear about the Koch Brothers. They are not some television reality show. They are real people with money that even desert sheikhs could not imagine. In the upcoming election, the Koch Brothers will spend about $889 million dollars. Now that may not seem much to those who deal in Wall Street numbers but here is a comparison. The entire budget of Madison, Wisconsin, the school system, the public support of the University, roads, utilities, employees and all services to citizens is about $545 million dollars. So, theoretically one could fund two cities for a year almost the size of Madison, Wisconsin using just the funds that the Koch Brothers, and their estimated 1,200 employees will spend on trying to rid you of that pesky health care that you can now afford, or your Medicare or your Social Security. It is a fact that Fred Koch, the father of these two Neo-Fascist brothers, worked first for Joseph Stalin and when he became unpopular there, moved to Germany where he worked for and admired Adolph Hitler. You can call it a coincidence or irrelevant that he was a founder of the anti-Communist and very radical group, the John Birch Society and that his sons are now Neo-Fascists. But it is very likely that the fruit, or fruitcakes, did not fall far from the tree.
What is Sanders fighting? Why is he even running? It is not his style. Sanders history is as a critic of those aspects of government that treat the people either with disrespect, advantage one group over another, or use government as a source of income or windfall to the detriment of other, usually average, citizens.
The reason is pretty clear. He has stated it and we can accept his statement. He feels that democracy in the United States is far out of balance, with a new class of hugely wealthy individuals, who, for one of the few times in our history since slavery or the Civil Rights era, have introduced a serious element of hate into society. How do you measure hate? Do individuals come right out and say: “We hate average Americans and poor Americans?” Hardly. Even for those who live in the upper stratosphere of society where they rarely interact with average people, this would be too much of a risk. They prove it in other ways. These enormously rich individuals and the legislators for whom they purchase elections with lies on television and radio (politicians, who are worse because they are the Judas goat of our society, the pilot fish who betray American citizens for another two or four years of employment in some paltry, decadent political position) work tirelessly to reduce the American standard of living, sending jobs to Asia and Mexico, cutting jobs in the U.S., trying to remove accessible health care from the poor and middle class, trying to privatize and therefore eliminate for many people a modest retirement income and ultimately trying to pollute both our air and water for their own profit.
Sanders finally had enough. And now, win or lose, he is in this election to win and overturn the actions of the multitude of lobbying organizations, the racist organizations, the phony economics and political science “institutes” and “foundations” that merely parrot what they are told by the oligarchs. And we can make this happen, with a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and the Presidency.
It won’t be easy but it does not have to come all at once. Let us suppose that the American people use their heads and vote in a true Populist, like Sanders, over a pretend-Fascist like Trump. We need not worry about Trump, even if he were to be elected. He has the backbone of a shrimp and the intellect of a tadpole and the will power of a soft boiled egg. He is no Hitler or Mussolini. He would cave at the first sign of a dark stare from that fearsome individual, Mitch McConnell. Harry Reid would terrify him, even in his softest, most barely audible voice.
Here is a reasonable agenda for a Sanders’ Revolution. If he were to win the 2016 Presidential election, the likelihood is that he would bring along a Democratic Senate. If that were to happen, he would, if it has not been done already, nominate and would see approved, a new Supreme Court justice. At that point, he would immediately engineer a case to be brought to the Supreme Court that would remove the ridiculous Citizens’ United ruling.
He would simultaneously, probably in the first 90 days, introduce tax legislation against Wall Street hedge fund managers to tax carried options; tax large estates at 55% over a certain minimum deduction, perhaps as much as $20 million for a married couple; tax corporations that send jobs abroad; remove all “corporate welfare” business tax exemptions; re-introduce Glass-Steagall type legislation to separate investment firms from banks; reinstate Planned Parenthood with protections; cut the military budget by 10% and reinvest funds in the newest weapons research and anti-terrorist strategies. He would introduce incentives for hi-tech manufacturing—which has been very successful in a dozen areas of the country but never supported by the Republican/Fascist Congress—and technical education for high school and junior college students in the newest technologies. Factories that now employ only 500 individuals where 5000 had been employed 50 years ago can now be built everywhere in the country, not merely in the old, key manufacturing centers.
All these things, plus a renewal of investment in the country’s infrastructure, probably gradual at first until the people understand how very far behind we are in restoring our country compared with the rest of the world, but eventually a significant part of our economic growth. Trains travel Europe and Asia routinely at 300 miles per hour. Internet services in Europe are twice as fast at half the cost. Advanced countries have health care that is better than ours…we rank below 20th or farther down in almost every survey…and is available to every citizen.
We can hope, and with good effort we can expect, that a President Sanders would dedicate a large part of his administration to developing the education and income security of inner city African-Americans. After generations of neglect, the people who were brought here by white people, enslaved and degraded, then cast out with less than no education and have lived as second-class citizens for another 100 years need special treatment. Not reparations. A whole new start. Development of black neighborhoods, schools with special emphasis on remedial work on entire generations of families. We need to bring African-Americans up to the standards of White Americans. That is an investment of time and money and personal concern we must make or we will never become a true democracy.
We need to make a similar effort to improve the lives and restore the assets of Native Americans.
All these changes have positive effects on the lives of average Americans, positive effects on the economy and a huge difference both in how we see ourselves and how we are seen around the world. In a global economy, and in a highly dangerous world where friendly affiliations are important, our image…which needs repair badly, even after the work of President Obama to restore our image…is vital to our future.
That is the potential of the Sanders’ Revolution and it is ready to be had. It is not a reality show. It is not some fantasy of a Socialist idealist. It is only one vote per citizen away from total reality, a life and a future for all Americans that will finally begin to realize our own vision of what we say America should be.
Oh, by the way, as a disclaimer, not one billionaire will be harmed in the transformation of this society. Most of them probably will never even know it has taken place.