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IT’S A MOVEMENT, STUPID: Why Bernie Can Deliver on Promises of Change, While the Sensible Centrists Can’t


IT’S A MOVEMENT, STUPID: Why Bernie Can Deliver on Promises of Change, While the Sensible Centrists Can’t

John Atcheson

The Democratic Party is engaged in an epic battle about how change happens. On one side is the establishment who are backing Hillary’s cautious, pragmatic, and incremental approach. On the other are the Sanders supporters who are calling for a revolution.

There’s an irony in this debate. The establishment is interested in retaining power, while the Sanders and his supporters are seeking change. Here’s the irony – the only way the Democratic Party can get and keep power is by embracing revolutionary change.


What will prevent change is the House of Representatives which because of gerrymandering will probably be controlled by the Republicans at least until 2022. If you want change somebody has to draw the congressional districts in a fair manner so that the membership of the House actually represents the people. So the debate about who can bring about change is a red herring. It is not going to happen. The Democratic left center has won four of the last six elections for president had had more total votes in five of the last six. Had Al Gore carried Florida we would probably have had six straight terms of left center Democrats as president. Now John Atcheson is suggesting to give up this winning strategy and go for a strategy that runs the furthest left member of Congress for president. Lots of luck in convincing people that is the way to go. Probably O'Malley would have been a good compromise between the left center and the left and really united the party. But there has seemed to be no political space for him to run in between two popular candidates and he has remained in single digits in all the polls.


Atcheson illustrates the key point about this election >>> a people power mandate vs a corporate coup power structure. Sanders would generate a people's power base to support the changes he would attempt. Hillary and the repubs would maintain the current oligarchic power base.

The thing is that they never expected to face a true people's candidate. Exactly how many of them are there out there anymore? Bernie is one of the few. Warren is another but she isn't running. Wellstone was one too. How many politician's buck the system?

So the powerful grew complacent. They owned the media and silence in this case is golden (literally). They owned the government and the regulatory agencies. They bought our democracy wholesale and the bastards sold us out to the plutocracy at a discount. Democracy - on sale!!! So they sat smug and comfy at the rigged game. Gerrymandering eternity just in case.

And then along came Bernie... you know that was 'impossible' right? Couldn't be real...right? He's a damn birkenstock wearing Vermont lib and dang it all he admits to being a socialist. How could that be real...right?

Well they went too far now didn't they? The mess in Iraq keeps getting messier. The out sourcing bled us dry, the jobs disappeared and they gave themselves two trillion in tax cuts at the same time. Pensions went bust and unions crumpled. The bank bailouts went into double digit trillions and they foreclosed on the little guys taking their homes. Citizen's United and data mining and what the hell is left of the America worth fighting for? America is not just a method for the billionaires to get richer.

Wha'happened? Yeah people...what happened to our America? They took it all except the name. They literally went too far but then that is the way greed works ain't it?

Suddenly they realized that they can't put the cow back in the barn...! The people want change. The Patriot Act is NOT our constitution. This billionaire's paradise is not our America. 16$ trillion in bank bailouts and they moan about the working poor getting $15 bucks an hour like that will cause the end of the world.

They went too far with austerity. They went too far with denial of climate change.

They went too far thinking that they owned the world and that they can do what they want and everyone else just has to lump it.

They went too far...

Go Bernie... we want our country back.


The Political Compass has done a chart for the 2016 US primaries:


Disappointing they didn't have the resources to do other candidates, like Jill Stein. I imagine they'd chart her in about the middle of the lower left quadrant, like Gandhi.


Great rundown on what I think ought to be regarded as a start for list for a good training workout - the conceptual equivalent of lifting weights and long distance swimming. Deal with the heavy lifting and prepare for the long haul.

I frequently post the term 'externalized costs'. The current system has externalized so much for so long that that it thinks expansion of societal starvation on every level is its right of harvest and to then dole out at whim as long as its expansion is guaranteed - until busts wide open and shatters everything in its path. The latter being the explosion perversion (disaster capitalism) of a concept of 'seeds'. It has practiced the methodology of imposed anorexia for so long that austerity, in complete denial of real economic dynamics, is its playmate not of the month, but for the "American Century". Now there's a laugh!

I'd add to the list another potential exercise. To hag onto the term 'externalized costs' like a lens to gaze through and see where it comes up in the course of the days of the week. Over time dots get connected.

To imagine what can be done locally, regionally and so forth- and to build for the future. It can't be done over night, but reclaiming life from knee-jerk "consumerism" for societal well being as the motivation is already fairly well underway. It'll have its challenges, but with this as practice, experience aggregates to vision and recognition, then to share and teach and learn further.

I'd submit that we are on the verge of the irreversible epiphany about just how empty, mean and voracious the system has become and rediscovering the real paradigm of what it mans to be human beings on this beautiful planet. But if we don't actively engage with, communicate whether through local, regional, state and national representation with the regularity of eating, sleeping and other daily necessities, it will remain subjected to being just another externalized loss - at our own peril.

Thanks to Working Families, nurses, teachers, union folks, workers challenging Wallmart, - still have a warm spot for OWS, indigenous peoples and cowboys fighting pipelines, Sunlight Foundation, whistleblowers, immigrants speaking out, - its another list and its growing...


Where should President Bernie begin?

Ending war profiteering?
Medicare for all?
Free public college education?
A $15/hr minimum wage?
Guaranteed medical leave?
Breaking up big banks?
Busting media monopolies?
Regulating Wall Street?
Taxing the rich?
Cutting the budget of the National Security State?
Restoring Habeas Corpus?
A progressive cabinet and department heads?
A ban on lobby bribes and revolving doors?
An audit of the Federal Reserve?
An end to the WOD?
Prosecuting Bush and Cheney?


How about letting the people decide democratically by referendum first?


If a figurative emergency room doctor subjected your list to triage there is no question that breaking up big banks and regulating Wall Street (restoring all the New Deal regulations that were decriminalized during the past 40 years) would be the highest priorities seeing how those issues are tantamount to a patient's arterial bleeding.

The financial sector controls all of the other issues on your list. Until that sector is under control there is no hope of making progress on any of the other issues on your list.


Atcheson's third paragraph assertion that "since Reagan the Democrats have been loathe to confront the conservative mantra..." lead us to believe that this posture somehow just evolved. On the contrary, when the Clintons and others formed the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) at the start of Reagan's second term in 1985, they refocused the Party's mission to GET MORE CORPORATE CASH THAN THE GOP.

From that point until today most Democrats have not been "loathe to confront the conservative mantra", they have actually EMBRACED the "conservative mantra" to assure a sustained flow of corporate cash into the Party's war chest. The Democrats' first big sellout was what they even today call " bipartisan 1986 tax reform" that Obama wants to model his upcoming tax reform on. 1986 "reform" proved to be the most regressive tax reform in history, giving the 1% and corporations loads of new breaks while increasing taxes on the 99%.


Orchids, roses, chocolates and champagne to wereflea et. al. Brilliant.


You know a few weeks ago the debate in these comments on articles like this was between the Sanders supporters and those of us further left who don't believe in the duopoly and prefer a more leftist candidate, like Dr. Jill Stein. We further to the left often got blasted as secret or manipulative Clinton supporters.

What happened?

Suddenly there's a whole lot of people in these comments arguing FOR Clinton.

What happened?

I seriously doubt these folk have been here and have been quiet up until now. I seriously doubt they were just listening to us either claim it was wrong to critique Sanders because it helps Clinton or claim it was wrong to not critique Sanders because it legitimizes the Democratic Party and thus in the end legitimizes Clinton.

I also seriously doubt that they are people who were for Sanders and somehow in the last few days have become convinced that he's unpractical and they better line up with and for Clinton now before it's too late to choose an "electable" nominee.

So what happened?

Folks, we have been invaded by Clintonistas. It's all part of the fear of the establishment Democrats about Clinton losing to Sanders. They are mobilizing as much as they can and that includes their minions invading leftist web sites to argue for Clinton.

This ain't nothing yet. Wait until Sanders wins (if he does) Iowa and New Hampshire and then Black and Latino voters start realizing they have a real choice and many join the movement for him.

It's going to get vicious.

The arguments we had a few weeks back between Sanders people and Greens will pale into nothingness compared to the vitriol the Clintonistas will bring here, attacking not just Sanders, but the very policies we Greens agree Sanders is right on: Single Payer, higher minimum wage, family leave, breaking up the banks, free public college tuition.

Let me be clear. It is not going to convince us oldies to support Clinton. That's one thing we're agreed on. She is a wall street toady, a war monger, a liar, a person who changes her rhetoric on TPP and Keystone thinking the voters are easily fooled, a person who supports fracking, a person who supports private prisons, a person who supports GMO Monsanto, and is only about her own power and wealth.

We are not going to be manipulated into thinking it is progressive in any way to support her.


What you don't seem to understand is that your hypothetical 'winning strategy' for the Democratic party is not the same as a winning strategy for Americans, since the Democratic party establishment has in many ways been nearly as instrumental in getting us to the unenviable position we enjoy today as the Republican party has. Furthermore, gerrymandering only creates advantages if all other considerations are equal, so if a strong desire for real change exists the House CAN be taken over by legitimate progressives (conversely, if the game is not changed, why would one expect the House composition to be materially different in 2022 than it is today, and even if it is why would we care all that much?).

Change must be driven from both the bottom and the top. Obama promised that kind of change but never even tried to provide it, and his initial strong support just faded away. That left a strong unsatisfied desire for change that is driving Bernie's support: we don't need 'lots of luck' convincing people to provide it, they're already doing so - get used to it.


And here I was just feeling grateful that only one poster here (though one who seems determined to pop up in about every Bernie discussion) seemed to be a Clintonista - but then I've only just returned here after a 4 - 5 year absence (long enough that The Management had changed their username and password requirements such that neither of mine still worked - they didn't even remember my email address).

It's nice to see Green and Bernie people pretty much getting along even if many still prefer their own candidate. And difficult to imagine all that many here deserting to Hillary under ANY circumstances (a large percentage of Bernie Democrats in the larger world might do so, but enough might not to deny her the presidency even if she became the nominee).


Thank you for the wonderful post.

Go Bernie!


Maybe the USA should enact tariffs on products that are produced through socialized/subsidized industry. That would give our manufacturing a more level playing field.


There was a period of time when I would have voted for Hillary if she managed to win the nomination.

That is no longer true. Due to Hillary's dirty tricks and lies I would not vote for her even if Ted Cruz was the opponent.


And Matt, they probably need someone other than Harry Reid as the Dem Majority Leader. He is too wed to Senate "tradition."


Anyone expecting big change from the top (federal level) down if Bernie is elected (and I hope he is) will be sadly disappointed. Though I expect Dems to make gains in the House and possible regain a majority in the Senate, for structural reasons of the election if for no other reason (the tables will be turned on the repubs in this cycle as they will have defend more seats), repubs will still be able to gum up the works.

But remember, as the author notes, this is about a movement not just about the presidential race. From an electoral point of view, the state and local races are very important. Repubs have way overstepped their bounds in not only red but purple states as well and people are hopping mad. If that anger can be turned votes, especially in a presidential year when Dems tend to do better, there can be significant shifts. Of course at the state level things have been gerrymandered too and there is strong possibility of rigging the vote. Also, the Dem party is often not very strong at the state level (e.g., the state party is weak in a state like North Carolina where I live) and the Debbie Wasserman-Schultz-led DNC does not help matters. No one said it would be easy.

Locally though this is less the case. And at the county and municipality level there can be strong push back against red-state legislatures for overstepping their authority. You also see cities willing to act on things like climate change where the feds and states will not.

But really the biggest space where thinking of the Bernie campaign as part of a MOVEMENT is in what people are doing and can do themselves. This is mostly happening at the local level among the grassroots. Our decisions and actions we take on a day-to-day basis are ultimately more important than votes. Bernie's national campaign can bring the energy and motivation to act locally to directly address the challenges people face and to build the kind of community and world they want. A Bernie win will also likely ensure no further backsliding to the rights that Dems have been doing for decades as well as make space to plant the seeds of change most people want to see (as many polls indicate).

Thinking like a movement, the people involved must recognize this goes way beyond one election. People need to be in it for the long haul, regardless of outcome.


one needs to be an american first and a democrat second, to even begin to understand this article.


The decisions each of us make are what is important - decisions as to who we vote for but more importantly what actions we take in our everyday lives. That is what makes a movement.


The entire country only has two enemies who are tied together; Fox news and corporate media, and the Kochs/tea party. Fix the first one and the second one goes away.
An informed public is the best weapon.