Bernie Sanders in Los Angeles Bernie Sanders holds his first 2020 campaign stop in Los Angeles. Thousands attend the rally in Grand Park. He also became the first presidential candidate in ...
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Bernie Sanders wrapped up a weekend campaign swing through California with a Sunday afternoon speech to 16,000 of us a few miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. News coverage seemed unlikely to convey much about the event. The multiracial crowd reflected the latest polling that shows great diversity of support for Bernie, contrary to corporate media spin. High energy for basic social change was in the air.
Speaking from the podium, Bernie 2020 co-chair Nina Turner asked and answered a question about the campaign: "What's love got to do with it? Everything."
Those words made me think of a little-known statement by Martin Luther King Jr., as vitally true in 2019 as in 1967. "Now, we got to get this thing right," he said. "What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."
And so, Dr. King was saying, love and power need each other. Just one or the other just won't do. Combining the two is essential. That's a way to understand what Turner said at the rally in San Francisco: "This is a moment of transcendence."
The Sanders campaign is a nationwide struggle for the kind of power that Dr. King extolled as "love implementing the demands of justice." In his words, "Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose."
The Sanders campaign is a political opportunity unlike any we've seen in our lifetimes. With profound purpose, it raises the stakes to fit the magnitude of what is at stake; it challenges in national electoral terms the kind of destructive domination that has ruled with dispiriting and deadly results. "We're going to have to fight Wall Street, neoliberals, those who don't want the change to come," Turner said.
Alone among the candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders has always been part of progressive movements. The only way that the campaign can overcome corporate media, Wall Street and other power centers of the establishment will be with massive bottom-up mobilization in communities across the country. As Bernie said on Sunday, "We are going to put together an unprecedented grassroots campaign."
A current media meme -- ignoring the importance of Bernie's longstanding record -- assumes that he is likely to lose many votes to other candidates who've recently endorsed his 2016 campaign proposals.