last chance: get real real. . . . bernie sanders can’t lead the revolution

| January 31, 2017


Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

rootfolks poets press

hear, you must hear what the people say . . .  speak out, you got to speak out against the madness, you got to speak your mind / if you dare.—david crosby, long time gone

the outcome (of the election) placed total control of the government — executive, congress, the supreme court — in the hands of the republican party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.

—noam chomsky, truthout interview

bernie sanders has been cast in the role of venerable old man of the american political left. a self-defined democratic socialist, sanders —now that the election is over— has agreed to be standard bearer for the residual new deal democratic party. those leaders acted in bad faith to  undermine his presidential campaign. the clear choice of progressive white people, sanders drew unprecedented support at rallies nationwide, with millennials lined up in droves to support his candidacy. but understand, the bern from the onset was a thorn in the democrat’s crown. party officials at the dnc (democratic national committee), the party’s superdelegates, and president obama, himself, all threw their considerable political weight to hillary clinton, only to see the ex-first lady-senator-secretary of state trounced in the electoral college by the donald, who dems believed didn’t have a slave’s chance in 1830s state issued paper money to be elected. but now, with old dnc heads decapitated (debbie wasserman-schultz and former dnc chief and perennial dem consultant-analyst-booster donna brazille) the party has recruited sanders to lead the charge back to the electoral pasture of legitimacy.

but a closer look at the bern’s lingering fire finds his embers burning not so hot as once they did on the 2016 campaign trail. while he’s an independent on the public’s register, sanders is a socialist, who describes himself as a democratic socialist, explained in new deal terms.

but americans have an antipathy for anything labeled socialist, altho sanders’ rock star campaign popularity somehow eluded the curse of capitalist hegemony to gain a  foothold in the hearts and minds of progressives. clarifying sanders’ politics, see this take, as reported in aljazeera america:

. . . conservatives aren’t the only ones calling sanders a capitalist stooge. at vox, ezra klein explains that “sanders isn’t a socialist. he’s a democratic socialist. the difference is big, and it’s real.” in klein’s version, sanders and hillary clinton represent two sides of the (capitalist) democratic party: one that trusts big business and one that doesn’t. hillary is a “new democrat” who holds a special place in her heart for corporate executives, and bernie is an “old democrat” who wants to regulate and tax them and use the proceeds to fund public-welfare programs. sanders shares his politics with the mainstream center-left parties just about everywhere else in the world.

today, in its current global position, america differs radically from other western nations. (see, the black body—capitalism’s profit & loss zone, and edward e. baptist’s the half has never been told: slavery and the making of american capitalism). and while sanders politics may align with the white west, america’s growing concentration of dissatisfied afrikan people — whose ancestor’s bodies were used as capital for america’s national and individual wealth accumulation — are left voiceless in reshaping the party.

whatever sanders socialist bona fides, he is now the dems north star, and he’s back on the stump pushing to correct the obvious: the democratic party no longer represents the interests  of america’s working and middle class white people. clearly bernie sanders —the politician— believes he has the pull to bring some of the trump faithful back into the democrat’s camp, due to his own populist appeal to white voters.

but while the obama coalition remains the democrats’ stalwart and rearguard, sanders’ energy is being spent finding a way back into the hearts and minds of disaffected whitefolk. really! so how do black lives matter?

the new republic, after a recent cnn townhall with sanders, called him to account:

but the town hall also revealed something concerning about sanders, whose success in last year’s democratic primary made him a leading voice of the left: the independent vermont senator is letting his efforts to court trump voters keep him from being the voice of radical resistance that progressives desperately need.

. . . because of his appeal with white working class voters, he thinks he’s well positioned to help progressives win them back. so he’s treading carefully, trying not to needlessly alienate them. but even (cnn moderator) cuomo called out his timidity, noting that sanders “won’t commit to voting against” attorney general nominee jeff sessions, despite concerns about the alabama senator’s civil rights record, or environmental protection agency administrator nominee scott pruitt, who denies climate change and has been a harsh critic of the very bureaucracy he’d run.

responding to trump’s electoral college victory, dnc managers have pushed the bern to the top of the dnc’s how do we get outta this republican funk agenda. meanwhile, afrikanfolk —the democratic party bedrock— who didn’t turnout for clinton as they did for obama, and who were  blinded by hillary’s lacklustre, may have a hard time getting behind sanders, with his appeal to the working class whites who kicked hillary to the curb.

the stage is set for the battle royale. the wall street dons are now the visible royalty atop the american empire, and the democratic party must shift right to accommodate their interests, and recapture the myth of legitimacy in the american democratic experiment.

it would seem sanders is already on his heels as he approaches his assignment. he’s on the road hosting town halls and stadium events to inform americans still willing to listen that the democratic party cares, and the revolution he started as a candidate isn’t done yet. finally, the dnc has been forced to listen to the people’s pain. but not really. . . .

radical resistance — shut the cities down

with donald trump at the helm of the ship of state, a cabinet of billionaire wall streeters and military types lined up to sweep to confirmation, and speaker paul ryan leading the congressional charge to implement his budget fantasies, americans serious about fleshing out an equanimous truth from the declaration and constitution can no longer split neoliberal hairs about the road forward.

rootfolks say, if the people are not bumrushing the streets tying up the flow of goods, straining the economy, and letting the capitalists know their plan can’t go forward without real harm to  their multinational interests, it’s game over. boycotts, sitins, slowdowns, and targeted don’t buy campaigns organized online, from the start of the trump administration until his government collapses, that’s one radical path forward. in short, if conscious huemans don’t shut  down the republican juggernaut before it gets its legs, there may not be a chance to recover from the wrath of the trump backlash.

listen, in an unscripted moment on the campaign trail in michigan, speaking to a white crowd about the state of affairs for afrikan americans, trump was very clear: you’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed —what the hell do you have to lose? oh my, in his mind now, he’s right. we lost and he won, and nothing is owed to the loser. know that!

that off-the-cuff was saying you’re taken for granted by the democrats, so what would you have to lose voting for me (trump)? that was then, this is now! trump’s question really has legs when put to what do you have to lose by continuing to play by capitalism’s rules — everything!

your ancestors and your children require a radical response, and by radical i don’t mean burn down your own neighborhood in a spate of emotional self-negating violence. a strategic approach is required. perhaps a systematic boycott of targeted businesses, alongside a radical online campaign of collective economic and social education.

no voice on the left is more cogent, with a record of historical accuracy and acumen than noam chomsky. he had this to say about the democrats’ loss, and a trump administration — in lite of a damning ecological report released on election day 2016.

the president-elect, calls for rapid increase in use of fossil fuels, including coal; dismantling of regulations; rejection of help to developing countries that are seeking to  move to sustainable energy; and in general, racing to the cliff as fast as possible.

it is hard to find words to capture the fact that humans are facing the most important question in their history —whether organized human life will survive in anything like the form we know — and are answering it by accelerating the race to disaster.

chomsky’s insight underscores the need for radical action. the democrats are asleep at the wheel, to the point that the republicans have the votes, appointments, and positions to give their ideology legs that will last generations. inotherwords, this democratic experiment is coming apart — and your blackbody has lost its value, other than as a unit of consumption.

congressman john lewis (bless his heart) and his fellow democrats think that not attending trump’s coronation is a radical act. they don’t quite seem to get it — the civil rights era has long been dead. obama’s  victory was simply a neoliberal throwback that opened the door to the next 20 years of capitalist reformation. afrikan people, poor people are obsolete — no longer needed in this technological era. radicals must face the current and present danger not romanticize victories won and relinquished 50 years ago. again chomsky:

the democratic party abandoned any real concern for working people by the 1970s, and they have therefore been drawn to the ranks of their bitter class enemies, who at least pretend to speak their language — reagan’s folksy style of making little jokes while eating jelly beans, george w. bush’s carefully cultivated image of a regular guy you could meet in a bar who loved to cut brush on the ranch in 100-degree heat and his probably faked mispronunciations (it’s unlikely that he talked like that at yale), and now trump, who gives voice to people with legitimate grievances — people who have lost not just jobs, but also a sense of personal self-worth — and who rails against the government that they perceive as having undermined their lives (not without reason).

understand, that unless politicians put their bodies and reputations on the frontlines, in the streets, the proverbial trenches to clog crony capitalism’s gears, they have no credibility — no clearwater sloop on which to sail their reelection bid.

you can bet you’ll see them lining up behind the sanders wing of the party —so they’re shielded from any major flak— imploring americans to be calm, give the system time to work. they’ll say, professing solidarity with you and me and empathizing with your pain, just give us time to make your vote count!

but those of us who’ve lived thru post-war, civil-rights-vietnam era america know your vote doesn’t count, and understand the politicians’ go slow appeal in ways gen-xers and millennials can’t embody. your encapsulated experience has been fed by a pc corporate media that covers war and domestic resistance to capitalist hegemony with soundbites, embedding, and a wall  street numbers game that would have you believe the economy is better than it has been in multiples of years.

as elders in this liberation epic, our moral, ethical, and cultural imperative must be — to care for the orphans,  homeless and hungry, and advise the young to shut the cities down!

that imperative is for afrikan people, people of color, and our allies who, from practical experience, understand that we’re in this shit together, and the only way the change we want is coming is if we give up our programmed thots of relative comfort and security and pledge allegiance to one another. clinging to the addictions of false comfort and security is stranglehold we and the rest of huemanity can no longer stand.

hound dogs on my trail / school children sitting in jail / black cat cross my path / i think every day’s gonna be my last / lord have mercy on this land of mine / we all gonna get it in due time / i don’t belong here / i don’t belong there / i’ve even stopped believing in prayer / don’t tell me / i tell you / me and my people just about due / i’ve been there so i know / they keep on saying “go slow!”

nina’s brilliantly crafted protest anthem for the civil rights work of sncc (student nonviolent coordinating committee), core (congress for racial equality), and even progressive state chapters of the naacp (national association for the advancement of colored people) foreshadowed this day. it was young people who pushed the greyheads of the church-centered movement beyond it’s limitations. the students  got tired of waiting and simply marching. now, in the trump era, it’s time for our youth to harness our fanny lou hamer courage: we’re tired of being tired, and ain’t gonna take it no more. it’s time for radical disruption of the capitalist juggernaut.

the democrats, bernie sanders, even the new republican party can’t be afrikan people’s avatar fiting four-to-eight years of a trump presidency steeped in virulent destruction. your leaders and their democracy have lost the veneer of legitimacy. your fate is in your and your neighbors’ hands. there are no more chances to make the policies right by two-party negotiation. negotiation ended with the first obama term in office.

the elite and their managers have never been more undressed. with trump’s ascendance, the machine of government is aligned to gallop naked toward fornication of liberty and justice for all. the two-party system, with its corporate media in tow, soon will be at a loss to explain away america’s elite excesses. make no mistake, there will be an inevitable decline, and when it becomes clear that your economic pain is not the index by which your representatives are measuring their governance, then will the mettle of the american people be measured. donald trump has sold white working poor, and middle america an illusion, and no amount of 140-character tweets will save that bubble from bursting. and don’t be shocked when the system-engineered violence of this police state is loosed to cover the bloody tracks of the guilty! our rite is our huemanity, and our agency is the will to shut the cities down.

but you know, the darkest hour / is always just before the dawn. / and it appears to be a long time / such a long, long, long time before the dawn.—david crosby, long time gone

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Category: Community, National, Politics

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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