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What We Are When the Striving Ends

Bernie Sanders: Elders' Best Political Candidate

Actually, he is the people's candidate (as opposed to the corporate candidate all the rest are) but he is the only one who speaks directly and repeatedly to the well being of old people.

Plus, at 73, he is one of us, born the same year I was, 1941. (With Senator Bernie Sanders now in the race, maybe opponents will leave Hillary Clinton alone about her age.)

Given the earthquake in Nepal, ongoing Baltimore events, the Kentucky Derby, a new royal baby and something about a big-deal boxing match (have I missed anything?) last week, most of the mainstream media was too distracted to notice Senator Bernie Sanders' announcement on Thursday that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

He is running as a Democrat for practical reasons of fund-raising rules but he is an Independent in Congress who caucuses with the Democrats and he describes himself as a democratic socialist.

Now don't go getting all in a snit over that word “socialist” because if you a receive a Social Security benefit (or are expecting to) and use Medicare (or expect to) you are participating in socialism.

One of my favorite reporters, Matt Taibbi, interviewed Sanders at great length some years ago and admits, having spent 10 years living and working in Russia, that he had such a negative experience with socialism he “didn't even like to say the word out loud.”

But, as he explained last week in Rolling Stone,

”...Bernie Sanders is not Bukharin or Trotsky. His concept of 'Democratic Socialism' as I've come to understand it over the years is that an elected government should occasionally step in and offer an objection or two toward our progress to undisguised oligarchy.

“Or, as in the case of not giving tax breaks to companies who move factories overseas, our government should at least not finance the disappearance of the middle class.”

Here's Bernie shortly after his announcement:

He doesn't look or sound like a senator let alone president, does he? Rumpled, serious, wonky, lacking quotable zinger lines, he's the antithesis of the polished, poll-tested, rehearsed candidates we've long been trained to expect.

In fact, I saw a pundit-type on television this weekend say that the first thing he would do if he were running Bernie Sanders' campaign is take him to Super Cuts. I doubt Sanders will bother. As Taibbi further explained:

“...Sanders genuinely, sincerely, does not care about optics. He is the rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person. If he's motivated by anything other than a desire to use his influence to protect people who can't protect themselves, I've never seen it.

“Bernie Sanders is the kind of person who goes to bed at night thinking about how to increase the heating-oil aid program for the poor.

Robert Borosage, president of the Institute for America's Future, concurred last week in his Huffington Post blog:

“Sanders is not easy, not blow dried and not scripted. But in a populist moment, he is the real deal - a full throated, unabashed, independent, uncorrupted, straight-talking populist. And that is a big deal...

“He campaigns for expanding, not cutting back basic security programs for America. He would lift the cap on Social Security payroll taxes to expand benefits to address the looming retirement crisis.

“He would move to a national health care plan - Medicare for all - that takes on the insurance and drug lobbies and makes health care a right.”

Further, environmentalist Bill McKibben who lives in Sanders' home state, Vermont, tells us in Huffiington Post that the senator

“...isn't really running against Hillary Clinton. He's running against the Koch Brothers, and all that they represent: taken together they're the richest man on earth.

“They've made their money in oil and gas (they're the largest leaseholders in the Alberta tar sands, on the far end of the Keystone Pipeline). They spend their money to break unions, to shut out solar power, to further concentrate America's wealth.

“They'll spend at least $900 million on the next election, and my guess is that if Bernie Sanders catches fire they'll spend far more than that - because he knows he's got their number.

"They know, in their heart of hearts, that there's two of them and hundreds of millions of us, and that's got to be a little scary.”

I can only hope.

As Andrew Prokop at Vox explains, Sanders isn't entirely out of the professional political mainstream which could make him more palatable to center-leaning Democrats who think he is too much a lefty:

”...while Sanders wants a single-payer health care system, a carbon tax, and much more government spending on infrastructure and benefits, he isn't an uber-liberal on everything.

“On social issues like abortion, gun rights, and gay rights, he is squarely within the mainstream of the Democratic Party — not to its left. And while he's suspicious of foreign wars, he voices sympathy with Israel's security concerns and warns of the dangers of ISIS.”

Vox has a good summary of Senator Sanders' views here.

Do I expect Bernie Sanders to be our next president. No. I don't even expect him to be the next Democratic nominee. But he WILL change the conversation which will change some minds and that is crucial to the future of elder (and other important) issues.

Maybe more than we think. There is this about his fundraising from The New York Times:

”The three Republican senators who are running for president — Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio — all boasted about raising $1 million in their first 24 hours as candidates. But they have nothing on Bernie Sanders.

“The independent senator from Vermont, who announced Thursday that he is running as a Democrat, said Friday that he had raised $1.5 million online in less than a full day as a candidate. The support came from 35,000 donors who contributed an average of $43.”

In the manner of Senator Elizabeth Warren, the least Bernie Sanders' will do with his campaign is force all the other candidates address his issues and I suspect it's going to be great fun to watch.

If you would like to donate to Senator Bernie Sanders' campaign, you can do that here.

You will find the official list of his positions on issues here.

Comments

I'm glad he entered the race. Not sure if he can win the general election but he'll elevate the conversations and debates during the primaries. I'd actually like to see him and Hillary on the same ticket and I don't care which one is on top.

I think the media skipped covering it out of general embarrassment and awkward pity (both possibly misplaced). Tellingly, none of my liberal FB friends gave a cheer about it either. We all think he's terrific, but there's no way I can imagine him going the distance in the presidential race.

I like Bernie and gave him a very small contribution. We need his voice. I don't see him winning the nomination, but he keeps Hillary working for our support and that's good.

I agree with Andrew Prokop's assessment of Sanders. If people would take the time to look seriously at Sanders position on the issues they are likely to find how much in agreement with him they are. This will be the job of the GOP to shield voters from learning the facts and truth about who the Vermont Senator is. The biggest trick in their bag is to disparage his socialist democrat label.

Bernie Sanders is not just the elders' candidate. I think he is enormously important. Ever since he was on Bill Moyers, I've gained even more respect for him. When MoveOn or somebody asked in a straw poll whom we would vote for [were the election held that day--], I without hesitation chose him. The ticket, the dream ticket, in my mind, would be Sanders and Warren, in whatever sequence.

Yet I already see the slightly sneering language that is being used about him in the press. I am sure he is tough enough to handle it, I am the one who feels irritated!

Gail Collins, slightly less funny than usual but as always thoughtful, had a nice piece in the NY Times on Saturday on Sanders: here's the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/02/opinion/gail-collins-bernie-sanders-yells-his-mind.html?_r=0

Collins actually asked about his changing the conversation. True to form, he bristled. He wants to be taken seriously, and maybe I am a dreamer, but I certainly admire and respect him and take him quite seriously. As did a letter-writer to a recent issue of the local StarTribune, who called him the most honest politician she had ever encountered.

Listen to him, please! And do like Prokop, heed what he actually says. Try to locate the Moyers interview as well.

Ruth-Ellen


I have always admired Bernie Sanders for his no nonsense approach to problems.

I like that he is in the race but I hope he doesn't push Hillary too far to the left in the primary so that she has to walk back some statements in the general election and give the republicans a chance to call her a waffler.

Just took out my cc to donate to Sanders campaign... If nothing else he is the voice of common sense. And even if we are "stuck" with Hillery as the democratic nominee, the more people who support Sanders will give her pause... Instead of allowing herself to be manipulated by corporate America and religion - which has NO place in politics she might think more about rebuilding the middle class, providing healthcare for all and giving the elderly a living SS, which they earned. Whew! I didn't know I still had it in me. Send a check, and pass it on to your friends!

The candidate who will win this election, or any election, is the one that knows how to preach to the choir. Unfortunately, America's "Choir" seems to be made up of young voters who are leaning more and more to the right.
As America's population gets older (There are more Baby Boomers turning 65 every year), perhaps a man like Sanders will have a chance. For now, the best we seniors can hope for is a candidate that will throw us a bone or two.

I share Nancy's concerns regarding Hillary.

Three cheers to Bernie Sanders declaring his intention to stand ("at his age") - !
You may have heard that Britain has a General Election on Thursday. It is neck & neck between the Tories (read Conservative/Republicans & Labour(Socialists/Democrats).
I'm a political activist, standing as a Labour District Councillor. Like Bernie, at 69, I'm a spring chicken compared to Harry Leslie Smith - well into his 90s, out there campaigning for Labour & our NHS (National Health Service) which is at stake if the Tories get back in. His Twitter profile @Harryslaststand reads:
Survivor of the Great Depression, RAF veteran & activist. Harry's Last Stand published by @iconbooks, paperback out now. What do YOU stand up for? If you want inspiration, he is worth following.

Bernie Sanders along with Elizabeth Warren is my hope for America. They are the voices of reason in a crazy political world of corporate shills. If only the people would listen I think they would win.

I am not convinced that Hillary is automatically going to be the Democratic candidate. She comes along as too "slick" to many people.

If I thought Bernie Sanders (OR Elizabeth Warren) had any chance of winning, I'd be over the moon.

What if, what if--he really has a chance of winning? If enough people are "sick of it all" maybe he could be catapulted to the presidency. I sure hope so and have donated.

What? Bernie can't be elected because he's rumpled, and not a liar? I wouldn't be surprised if he bumped Hillary. Bill signed the final signature on repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, to ‘modernize’ our financial system, which cost so many of us half our IRA's, in spite of valid warnings by Senator’s Dorgan, Shelby, the late Paul Wellstone, Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold; none of whom are intellectual lightweights. There were lots of ways to modernize our system without removing a simple, effective restraint to greed.

And there were many dissenting voices pointing out the fallacy of Powell's testimony about weapons of mass destruction. I, a middle-aged Admin Assistant, was aware of those questions so I can't quite forgive Hillary for voting for the Iraq war. I was deeply disappointed in Colin Powell too because being a ‘good soldier’ should have taken back seat to the moral reality of his speech which he later admitted he knew was deceptive.

Hillary already has a good life and can do a lot of good in this country without putting herself in a position to be beholden to her contributors, so let someone else have a shot at the Presidency. It’s about time we outgrew our shallow love affair with celebrity and elected someone with unshakeable integrity.

No BS with Bernie.

Perhaps he will bring a bit of humane consciousness and "truth-iness" into today's gutter-driven politics. But let's face it, the money will head the parade of fools.

May he succeed beyond my imagination, but I'm concentrating on local & state elections this round.

Please, Jon Stewart, do some election specials...

One thing no one has mentioned--and maybe it doesn't apply, but Bernie Sanders has declared himself as a democrat, not an independent, so he will not, like Ralph Nader, siphon off democratic votes. I do wonder if the latter ever gives a thought to the consequences of his candidacy in 2000.

No thanks, I'm sticking with Hillary.

Although I admire Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders would be a breath of fresh air in the White House. President Obama has been such a great disappointment to those of us who believed he would be more liberal than he is....

In my experience, WYSIWYG with Bernie and always has been. I have known people of quite a spectrum of political views (bearing in mind that I am from Vermont) who have supported Bernie. It will be interesting to watch.

Old white guys on either side of the ticket are not on the millennials radar, unfortunately. But the more in the race, the more interesting the debates and the more real issues might get into the limelight.

What's hair got to do with it?

For the record, Bernie describes himself as a democratic socialist, meaning "...advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system...."
Sounds good to me. I have already donated a C-note to him, and am delighted to be able to!

Definition from
http://tinyurl.com/qab8hzk

This was a wonderful post, Ronni, with some terrific references from Taibbi and McKibben et al to support your position. And, as always, your post has inspired readers like Lauren, Steve, Anne, and Ruth-Ellen to add both wisdom and information in their comments. I feel privileged to be a part of the TGB community.

Bernie may have no chance of winning, but his presence in the race (without being a Nader-type spoiler) is what was needed to jolt the party regulars out of their smug assumptions. He can remind the clearheaded electorate that WE are the ones who should be demanding our country back---from the Kochs and their palace guard of uber-rich conservative oligarchs. - Meg

Just to be clear, in praising Bernie Sanders for his outspoken anti-oligarch stand and, yes, his unabashed Socialism, I don't mean to imply that my goal is to see Hilary defeated. We always have to look at both the candidates and the consequences of our vote. I just want her and others to wake up and understand what the important issues are. I would vote for Bernie in a primary to make a statement, but I would never vote for him in a national election. I still retain some resentment of those who voted for Nader and helped lose us an election. - Meg

As a Canadian, I feel privileged to listen in on this passionate and so-well-informed discussion. Thanks everyone.

WOW! I am amazed at the "group think" in most of these comments today!
Isn't there anyone else out there reading these comments who dares to speak up with some serious analytical, critical, and rational thinking? No wonder our county is so polarized.
By the way, I am not a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. None of these parties nominate candidates whose views totally appeal to me, but I always vote on election day.I vote for who I think will represent what's best for our country at that time.
If another narcissist is elected President of the United States in 2016, I don't think we will ever recover from the mess we are in.
If you are not familiar with the term "group think," I really wish you would look it up. There are many kinds of thinking processes and it behooves us to use them all.


My post above shows the wrong url defining 'democratic socialist'.

The correct link is on Wikipedia at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_socialism

-sorry!

Sanders doesn't inspire me, but neither does Hilary. And the Republicans give me the heebie jeebies. I think we're all sitting on the deck chairs of the Titanic. Until I find a politician that understands what Naomi Klein wrote about in THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING I won't have much hope. As long as politics is about appeasing people with money then we'll have no one who can see the icebergs coming.

Maureen Browning...
Wow, you certainly are exactly what this blog has been needing to set us all straight: a smart, informed, superior, judgmental, smarmy jackass who has all the correct answers.

Good to have you here; bring a friend, if you have one.

My hope is that any money we give Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren can at least be used by them to build their own power base.

More power to them.

Fascinating comments; you have such smart readers, Ronni.

I voted for John Anderson and for Ralph Nader (twice) and no he didn't siphon my vote away from Al Gore, Al Gore lost my vote all on his own. But, that reasoning is not lost on me in this election.

None of the announced Republicans have views compatible with mine. I couldn't vote a third party and run the risk of any one of them running the country.

"the choir"... OUR choir, has to get off its duff and vote.

Off to donate, anyhow. Don Quixote's got nothing on an aging hippie :)
a/b

The readers of TGB are a smart bunch of fairly independent thinkers who have gathered at this blog precisely because we have a lot in common, including our politics. Our virtual gathering place is not unlike most physical gathering places where people connect because they have similar likes and dislikes. We are decidedly not an example of group-think, and have had civil disagreements many times.

Bernie is my hero!

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