Reprinted from The Nation
With a rock concert, a rally and a key speech in Iowa, the insurgent signals that he intends to remain an insurgent.
Des Moines, Iowa -- When William Lloyd Garrison launched his crusading abolitionist newspaper The Liberator in 1831 -- at a time when Congress refused even to debate the issue of slavery, and three long decades before America would finally confront the sin of human bondage -- he acknowledged that his call for the "immediate and complete emancipation of all slaves" was going to upset the polite politics and empty calculations of the elites.
"I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity?" Garrison wrote.
"I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD."
After Bernie Sanders delivered a fiery address to the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner Saturday night, in which the independent senator contrasted his record with that of more cautious politicians, the official Twitter account of the Democratic presidential contender featured the last line from Garrison's declaration. At a pivot point in the long competition for the Democratic nomination, when many pundits are writing a next narrative for the 2016 presidential race, in which front-runner Hillary Clinton is again recognized by political and media elites as the prohibitive favorite, Sanders is signaling that he intends not just to fight on but to wage an edgier, more aggressive campaign that will not equivocate.
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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.
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