Bernie Folks: What Happened to Our Shared Revolution?

What happened, our brothers and sisters of the revolution? No, this isn’t the Communist Manifesto 2.0. But I wonder, where did it go wrong? Before there was Bernie the candidate, or Hillary the candidate, it was all of us. It was all of us, and the demand for something better.

We shared so many epic discussions about the fate of this great human experiment called the United States. We discovered most people understand instinctively that the economic recovery from the 2008 recession never quite trickled down to the people whose jobs — even whole industries – disappeared, never to return. We worried about technology rendering human beings irrelevant, about people working 40 hours a week and still starving.

We opened up with our own personal stories of the destruction wrought by capitalism run amok — everyone has a friend or family member whose life was wrecked by the 2008 economic collapse. Maybe it happened to you too. We wept at how despite this countrywide disaster, the orgy at the top — the pyramid of ever-increasing income inequality – sometimes seems indistinguishable from the society depicted in The Hunger Games.

Together, we raged about the absurdity of the nation’s highest court confusing money with free speech, and thereby giving the green light to the wealthy to shamelessly buy off elections – without even having to disclose their identities to the public whose fates they sought to control.

We commiserated about the indifference of corporations whose top executives lived lavish lives, while their employees were little more than wage slaves, who could barely make ends meets. We wondered how it could be fair that a small hive of tech companies, paying their employees six figures a year (plus stock options), could drive up the cost of living in cities, so off the scale of reality, that the other 99% could no longer afford to live among these nouveau royalty of app designers and workaholic coders.

We marveled, watching it all unfold, how it could be true in the 21st century that one political party in our supposedly robust democracy does not even acknowledge the reality of climate change – and that same party has dropped to its knees to kiss the ring of a racist, xenophobic reality TV star with a case of Twitter Tourettes.

And at some point, we all decided to do something about it. In sincerity, in good faith, some people chose Bernie as their vessel to help effectuate this revolution. In sincerity, in good faith, some chose Hillary as the best leader to champion our cause. But we all got involved.

Then something happened along the way, something wrong, and something completely at odds with the fundamental goals of our movement. The vitriol from both #BernieOrBust folks and die-heard Clintonistas towards one other is just sad. It feels like much more akin to the intolerance of the Donald Trump universe, or akin to the inflexible hyper-populism of Germany’s national socialist party of the late 1920s, where conspiracy theories, scapegoating, and calls for violent overthrow ruled the day.

It does not feel as it should – like the natural extension of the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, FDR’s New Deal, the non-violent civil rights revolution of MLK, LBJ’s Great Society, Bill Clinton’s era of peace and prosperity, and the tangible results of Obama’s battle to revitalize hope and bring change to a battered nation.

MLK and the March on Washington, D.C.

MLK and the March on Washington, D.C.

How, then, did it come to a point where all of us, having shared the same experiences that lit the fire of revolution inside us, now fundamentally disrespect each other’s choice, as to the best presidential candidate to help fix what ails our society?

I say enough with the hateful Twitter memes, vitriolic Facebook rants, the gloating GIFs – all targeted at our own fellow believers, the same people with whom we once bonded in a demand that our society work again for the common person.

In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s winning the Democratic nomination, our shared purpose has, for some, become instead a circular firing squad, our community discourse now seemingly bent on devolving into a fratricidal act of collective self-sabotage.

Why are we not directing our passion towards educating those who think Donald Trump is a hero? And seriously, how crazy are the people, who after rational consideration, would rather vote for racist, xenophobic, sexist Trump simply because Bernie lost? How does this do anything other than throw our revolution under Trump’s ego bus? It is a selfish act.

Yes, Bernie lost. Hillary won, fair and square. She won because 3.5 million more people voted for her. She won more pledged delegates, etc. — she won by any objective metric. #BernieOrBust people: Ask yourselves — what’s more likely: that multiple conspiracy theories about voter fraud, voter suppression, corporate media control of the narrative, Wall Street dark money, etc., combined in a perfect storm to deny Bernie the nomination? Or, ask yourself — please – doesn’t maybe Occam’s Razor apply? The simplest explanation is frequently the best. This is a perfect example: more people voted for Hillary, even at the end. She defeated Bernie by over 30 points in New Jersey and by 13 points in California.

The number of people who turn out for a rally does not necessarily correspond to voter turnout. Trump thinks his rallies mean the whole country is ready to spread its political legs for him, yet both Bernie and Hillary got more votes than Trump in their respective primaries. But reality is not simply what you see around you, nor what Facebook chooses to show you in your news feed. (In fact, unless you choose otherwise, Facebook only shows you an algorithm-curated selection consisting solely of people who agree with you. This is not reality.)

Part of our revolution was about believing in facts, and science — not “truthiness,” as Stephen Colbert once said. The revolution includes rejecting the Republican insistence on betraying both facts and science for political gain, all at the expense of the average American. If you truly believe in a fact-based reality, you owe it to yourself to challenge the wave of political propaganda out there that demands you accept at face value charges that Hillary Clinton is a monstrous she-devil, ready to make you the next course at the feast of Wall Street.

Why did President Obama and Elizabeth Warren endorse Hillary the day after she won the nomination? Are they, too, part of the Illuminati? These are two progressive heroes who are hardly fact-challenged. They both know Hillary well. Their endorsement is a character reference. You owe it to the revolution to look beyond what, honestly, are mostly Republican talking points — ones that are easy to adopt without critical thought.

Hillary Clinton has fought for progressive values — with results — her entire life. She is tough, whip-smart, and as President Obama has said “I have seen her character up close.” She chose to work for the Children’s Defense Fund after graduating law school. She did not go work for some white-shoe law firm. She has had a passion for public service ever since giving the commencement address at her Wellesley graduation, widely considered one of the finest revolutionary speeches of its time.

Hillary Rodham as a college activist.

Hillary Rodham as a college activist.

No, Hillary isn’t perfect. She has made mistakes — in life, in public office. So has Bernie. No politician — indeed, no human — is perfect. Are you? (How many of you anti-corporatists still smoke cigarettes?) What you look for is the person’s soul. Is there still one? Does the light of idealism still shine? Not everyone has given in to cynicism. Hillary hasn’t.

Dare to believe Hillary is in fact a warm, funny, caring, well-informed person in real life. Dare to believe that she brings all these qualities to bear in her public service.

If you understand how the media can distort reality, then surely you understand that many people we think we know well, solely based on media portrayals, are in fact nothing like their media caricatures in real life. Clinton and Sanders admire each other. They don’t always agree on everything or every approach, but who does? They share the same basic values. Just as with Bernie, there is real a Hillary, who gives a damn about you – and everyone aggrieved by a broken system.

You will soon hear from Bernie as to why you should support Hillary. You owe it to the revolution to listen to him — and give Hillary a chance. Dig deeper, and demand the truth. That’s how the revolution started, and that’s how it will succeed.

I love comments and I read every one. And/or continue the conversation with me on Twitter, @deepermagic.


Clinton and Sanders share a laugh in less adversarial times.

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