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This Is What Democracy Looks Like


This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Robert C. Koehler

The snaking line was more than a mile long. Thousands of us had been waiting for hours in the bitter cold to get into Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre to hear Bernie Sanders speak. It was Monday night. The Illinois and four other state primaries were the next day and, as has been the case for the last three weeks now, the fate of the country — and the planet — seemed to hang in the balance.

Signs were everywhere: A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN, of course. And FEEL THE BERN, and variations thereof. BERNIE: PROPHET, HILLARY: PROFIT. And my favorite: SHAMANS FOR SANDERS.


Yes. I support Bernie for president and also believe he would be doing better if he hung the atrocities of endless war on Hillary.

I will not vote for any democrat other than Bernie, even if Elizabeth Warren is the campaign running mate.


I'll never vote for anyone with that has an absolute clear history of violence and support for the status que. That means physical violence (war) or through other means (e.g. financial).

The cycle must be broken and the apparatus stopped and people replaced before it can be truly changed. It starts with the presidency. It'll be bad because the forces at work--at the top--can easily mobilize the citizenry by scare & fear tactics. They have the capacity and forces to create events and publicize them to the degree that we as citizens lose sight of reality, therefore we shirk back into little beings...reduced to pointing blame at others and fighting with each other. Each side consists of financial interests competing with the other, squeezing and frightening the citizenry in the middle.

That's how they do it.

It will have to get worse before it gets better.


that must have been such an exhilarating experience just to be a part of the joy, the excitement and energy of the crowd; expectations running high as they wait for sanders to appear. yesterday, common dreams featured the rally ignored by the mass media as sanders spoke passionately to a huge gathering. after watching i told my son that i felt so happy to see so many young adult faces applauding and cheering his words. that in and of itself gives me hope! of course, this alone is not what democracy looks like. democracy--government by for and of the people--must permeate every aspect of society. democracy is a way of living, not a political rally and not limited to a moment in a voting booth.

I hear the words of the one major-party candidate who dares to question America’s militarized relationship with the rest of the world. I also hear the wiggle room. I wish Sanders’ stance on war and the unfathomable U.S. military budget had the certainty of most of his other policy positions; and I wonder if his momentum — his reach into the soul of the electorate — would be more powerful if that were the case.

I know this much. When I hear someone dismiss Sanders’ social programs, such as free college tuition, on the grounds that “the money’s not there,” I will ask why nobody ever says: “We can’t develop the next generation of nuclear weapons; the money’s just not there!”

When it comes to militarism, I have yet to see what democracy looks like.

well said, robert! thanks for another great essay!


My morning paper reprinted an NYT editorial which observed that Hillary would need to "win over" Bernie supporters at convention time.

Sure, that sticks in my craw.

Bill Clinton's blue dress antics diminished any moral thrust the 2000 Gore campaign possessed. Gore was forced to distance himself from an economically successful presidency. Moreover, Hillary needed to distance herself as well. You recall this past January Bill's rapid appearance and equally rapid disappearance from her campaign. I attribute that to her campaign recognizing Bill as moral liability.

Even as the NYT backed Hillary in January, they mentioned her "flawed husband." And it's not as though Bill got snagged one time. Snagged several times, but openly caught this one time. In the White House. Cheating, or weaseling (what the definition of "is" is--really!) or whatever you may call it, IS his character flaw. Cheaters remain cheaters, breaking rules which impede their desires, in all things beyond the merely sexual, because those rules only apply to--as Leona Helmsley might have said-- to "little people."

And this is the guy who becomes the DAILY presidential advisor. The Times notes that Hillary will need to "tack" left to win Bernie supporters. Substitute "weasel" for "tack" and you've got the game. And the tenor of the next Clinton presidency.

So, if it's Clinton's name on the November ballot, I hold my nose and vote for her. Only because I live in a swing district within a swing state. Otherwise, I would happily write-in Bernie's name.

And if she holds office come January, I plan to hold her feet to the fire. On everything.

If she games voters by tacking towards Bernie, we will hold her feet to the bern.


i hear ya, but we don't have the power to hold anyone's feet to the fire, anymore. i feel like Bernie is my last chance to put someone in who will truly fight for us. HRC will say pretty words and turn around and privatize your world--never saw a regime change, a trade deal, a bank deregulation that she didn't like.


If Hillary thinks she can "win over" people like me she's dreaming. Bernie is the LAST CHANCE the Democratic Party has with me. Not only will I go back to the Greens if she is the nominee, I will actively campaign against her, because defeating her and the party establishment is the ONLY way we will ever take back the party for we, The People.


True. The only way we can hope to hold HRC's feet to the fire, is if Bernie gets the nomination for POTUS. Metaphorically, Bernie is the only one that can burn and hold HRC's feet to the fire!


Rest assured that Elizabeth Warren will be on the list of the top ten people least likely to be the VP nominee.



What a wonderful, well written and inspiring article. In the wake of anti-Bernie media sentiment, I rely on Common Dreams as my source of news and a dose of inspiration...to keep optimistic, and feel the Bern! smile:


She thinks she's won. All her people think she's won. The mainstream media thinks she's won. All the talk is her turning to the General Election.

They've believed their own propaganda.

This is a good thing. It means the pretending she holds Bernie's views will cease. She'll move to the "Center," which is the right. Watch her begin to talk about balancing budgets, about standing up to terrorists, about how her grandfather taught her to shoot guns, how although she wants abortion legal she also wants it to be 'rare' and will do what she can to make it so, how we need to put people to work instead of on welfare, how great the police are, etc., etc., etc.

At least I hope she does and the self proclaimed progressives who think they need to back Clinton will realize how terrible that will be and will support Sanders instead.


Eh. Republicans represent the rich, today's Democrats represent the rich and middle class, no party represents the poor. Republicans have contempt for the poor, but Democrats have obviously not been the lesser of the evils for the poor. The Dem Party bosses, and much of the media marketed to libs, chose to wave the pom-poms for one of the two most anti-poor politicians today, Hillary Clinton.

The Dem voting base has long consisted of the proverbial masses -- the poor and middle class, workers and the jobless. This base has only been more deeply split apart over the past seven years. I wonder how this will all turn out for the Democrats.


Most voting choices ultimately come down to economic issues. On war, well, war is what America does. We've been engaged in wars more often than not, usually by choice, for the past century. We no longer have money to do much of anything else except prisons. Who has the power to stop it?


Koehler sez: "(Sanders) went nonstop for about 40 minutes, addressing:
• “This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world. We need to invest in our children. Get our priorities right. We are not going to be shutting down schools while Wall Street makes huge profits. . . . No more water systems that poison children.”
• “This should be a country with the highest voter turnout, not one of the lowest.”
• “Together we are going to repair a broken criminal justice system. . . . We need to demilitarize the police.”
• “Substance abuse is a health issue, not a criminal issue. We need to rethink the so-called war on drugs.”
• “There are 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. living in fear: We need comprehensive immigration reform.”
• “The way we have treated Native Americans for centuries is an absolute disgrace.”
• “Barack Obama’s father was born in Kenya. My father was born in Poland, but no one is asking me for my birth certificate. Maybe it has something to do with the color of my skin.”
• “I’m opposed to death penalty. In a world where there is so much violence, the state should not be a part of that.”
Finally, “I will do everything I can to see that the men and women in the military do not get sucked into perpetual war.”

Wait ... does this mean I shouldn't believe Clinton when she calls him a 'one-issue' candidate?


Beautiful expression of the transformative reality Bernie Sanders demonstrates every day of this campaign. The future is what CAN be accomplished, NOT what we pretend we can not "afford".
The DNC is ill advised if the insiders believe you can homogenize hope and trust with triangulation and plagerized flip flopping to produce strength and cooperation. "Progressive" neither rhymes nor harmonizes with paternalistic exploitation or compromised ideals. As a Democrat, I owe NOTHING to the machine pushing the symbol of triangulation into the swamp of cheerleading for compromised and neutralized status quo mediocrity.


Clinton's economic results were damaging to the US economy, but the recession he caused happened on GW's watch in 1993. Surpluses in budgets cause recessions. Deficit spending is the "medicine" the economy needs to thrive. His most definitely NOT an "economically successful presidency" NO WAY!!!
I bet you have not seen Bernie's manifesto. I bet you would have a difficult time even finding it in the MSM!
What I am confident of is that Hillary will win the nomination, but Bernie would win the presidency. Bernie attracts the young voters, but they will not turn out for such a toxic candidate as Clinton. So the Republican candidate will get a boost if Clinton stands.


The fact is this: Calling America the richest nation on earth is pure fallacy. In fact, with over $200 Trillion in debt when social security and Medicare are added...America is now the poorest nation the world has ever seen. Read Laurence Kotlikoff's extensive study. America is also not a democracy, it's a Constitutional Republic. our Founding Fathers feared that people would lose their liberty if they conceded more power to government by asking for hand outs. Socialism is by definition the opposite of freedom and liberty. Democracy itself is a world that translates to "mob rule". The 51% should not be able to vote away the right and freedom of the other 49%.


See any Trump rally video.
That's what "democracy" looks like, too.
As often as Democracy is killed by the mindless fools
and those who stand to gain from her deaths,
it is slaughtered by mob rule, masquerading as
majority rule, often promulgated as "democracy" by others who would profit
by the confusion.


I agree with one small change. This is not Bernie's revolution. He is a great thinker and our candidate for president.

Evolution itself is on the hockey puck graph of accelerating acceleration and Bernie sees this. That's why he says, "Not me, Us."


Best comment on this thread. Thanks.