Thursday, February 4, 2016

Feeling the Bern

Nobody gave me a chance either when I ran for milk monitor in kindergarten. I counted on votes from those who had never voted before. In fact none of us had ever voted before.

Bernie Sanders also needs a sizable chunk of the over 90 million eligible voters who stay home on the first Tuesday of November. For the past century and beyond the average no-shows were around 40%. Even FDR, in 1932, couldn’t rouse more than 58% of the populace to the polls.

Lincoln turned out 82% when the country was about to split open. When George Washington ran for the first time the turn-out was 1.3% or 39,000 voters. Those prohibited included Blacks, women and the unpropertied. All the rest voted for George. The last time a candidate ran unopposed was in 1820 when James Monroe rode in on the Era of Good Feeling.

We are now in the Era of Bad Feeling. Bernie Sanders is calling for a political revolution. If he prevails it would be a velvet one and a revolting situation for Hillary Clinton as well as the entire Power Elite. Even with his virtual tie in Iowa and commanding lead in the New Hampshire polls one could still get 7-1 odds in Las Vegas against a Sanders White House.

He has already moved the bar on the spectrum back to the progressive agenda of old. Feeling the Bern, Hillary has rediscovered the language if not the programs her husband relinquished twenty years ago when his brain got caught in his zipper. The word Socialism has suddenly become acceptable in polite society. We are catching up with the rest of the world.

Bernie has struck a chord with the under thirty electorate. If I remember correctly I also counted on the same constituency in my kindergarten campaign. But did they show up with raised hands? I never knew. I was waiting outside in the corridor.

The disaffected voters who feel left behind are Sanders’ audience and they are angry with the process and the players in it. With the rigged system in which their needs are profoundly unattended and with big banks who cheated them of their homes and pensions. With a bloated Pentagon drunk on misadventures. With paychecks insufficient to live a middle-class life and with unconscionable student debt. They are so upset they may even wake from their somnolence and vote.

I wish Bernie were younger. I wish he would vary his message, address foreign policy matters, connect with people of color. I wish he was Elizabeth Warren.

The conventional wisdom is that Bernie is unelectable. Maybe Hillary is the unelectable one. She seems always to be just a tad out of sync with the historical moment and carries more baggage than a herd of elephants. She would have been perfect twenty years ago when that other Clinton did his mischief in the Oval Office.

I was hoping for some clarity in the writing of this however I’m still of two minds. The prospect of Trump or one of those Cuban-Americans is enough to make me settle for Hillary. I would not care to witness the dismantling of social programs and dissolution of protective regulatory agencies.  

I shall probably hold my nose and vote for her. Bernie would be powerless unless he carried a dozen senators with him and two dozen House members. Even if he got the nomination Democratic legislators would more likely run away from him.

After my term of office as designated monitor I went into a steep decline and was barely heard from until the 4th grade. Let’s hope the Bern doesn’t flame out in a similar fashion. He lit the torch; may it catch on in the grass roots.

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