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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 5/5/19

Speaking of Bernie's Money

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A lot has been made of Bernie Sanders wealth recently. Perhaps it's a fair topic of discussion but it isn't being discussed at all.l It's being used as a typical, divisive, smear in yet another attempt to destroy his campaign. The Republicans who love the idea of extreme wealth and kleptocracy and the establishment corporate Democrats now have a common enemy in Bernie and hearing that he had committed the unforgivable sin of becoming a millionaire was the blood in the water that they were all looking for.

Despite the fact a million dollars isn't nearly what it used to be, every attempt was made to focus on and make the most of Bernie's wealth. The reports were so over exaggerated and desperate in the tabloid tone they screeched about the "discovery" they were almost comical.

The main stream media chirped indignantly and pointed excitedly at the profits from Bernie's book sales like adolescents giggling at a stream of toilet paper trailing behind the shoe of the most popular girl at school.

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Just as comical was the outdated idea that a million dollars somehow catapulted Bernie into a stratosphere of wealth where he could no longer have authenticity with average Americans. As I watched the pundits blather on in their exaggerated shock at this faux dilemma, I remembered the scene from Austin Powers where Dr. Evil, the bald, flamboyant villain, demands the sum of "One MILLION dollars". Placing his pinky to his lips in his signature evil sneer, he is advised somewhat clumsily by his cohorts that "Um, one million dollars isn't really as much money as it used to be" urging him that, well, he should ask for, you know, more than than that. So he repeats the demand but this time for one BILLION dollars.

But seriously, we need to have an actual discussion about it because the large progressive movement in this country needs to reevaluate what it means to be "wealthy" and to decide at what point wealth becomes a moral problem.

There have always been different ideological camps when it comes to wealth inequality and ideas of redistribution. Comments made recently on social media have made it abundantly clear to me that many people who decry the rich do so out of habit and reflex. Many are no longer speaking from a commitment to an ideology with consistent logical opposition to wealth but are often responding with a generic "bring down the rich" "the rich are evil" and are lighting the torches without considering that they don't apply these curses equally, carving out exemptions for sports and pop stars. Their protests and recent attacks on Bernie, while readily accepting Joe Biden is incoherent. Likewise the support that Trump sees among the very poor is what leads me to examine this perplexing inconsistency on wealth perception.

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The "base" of people hating on the rich without an ideology are doing so out of a tremendous sense of disenfranchisement. They work hard and can't get ahead. Donald Trump so adeptly tapped into that emotion, that economic desperation, that his supporters were willing to cast aside the question of his own wealth, buying into his hopeful, if fraudulent image as a "common man who worked for what he has" and were inspired that they too could "work their way up" if they only had "a chance" brought back by an improved economy.

So deep was their need to believe in a possibility of economic revival that they questioned nothing about how Trump got so rich, about the fact that he inherited his wealth and took advantage of his status every step of the way.

Meanwhile, Hillary's cavalier expressions that she would "put a lot of coal miners out of work" brought attention to her total lack of empathy for the working class and that, combined with her long history of wealth and power made her completely impossible as a populist candidate.

Of course she appealed more to the more educated, the feminists, the average person disgusted by Trump's crass conduct. She crafted her image to be the opposite of what people hated about Trump. But she was still seen as one of the elite, out of touch with the economic reality of many.

The bottom line is that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both wealthy elites. But Trump appealed to those who hate or are distrustful of the rich, and Hillary did not. Trump's wealth was marketed as the story of the "self made man" whereas Hillary's was cast as corrupt and classic greed. Revelations of her Goldman Sachs speech didn't help.

Bernie obviously tapped into the feelings of frustration and was successful in getting the support of a larger portion of the base because.he had authenticity. But due to the process was not nominated as the Democratic Party.

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For many who supported him, like myself, there was yet another layer of disenfranchisement and a disdain for the structures which support the elite. This caused a shift among Democrats. Some returned to a more traditional working party democratic base with more focus on progressive ideas including systemic wealth and race inequality, while others, more focused on Hillary's loss to Trump gravitated to the establishment Democratic Party who concerned themselves with social issues that they could contrast against Trump like feminist and LGBT issues, not wanting to focus on wealth disparity.

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Michele Goddard Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I was born in 1970 in Wheeling, WV and have lived here all my life. I come from mostly Irish Catholic coal miners and railroad workers. My original academic interest was in teaching foreign languages studying both French and Spanish in High (more...)
 

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Michele Goddard

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Wealth inequality isnat the forefront of many issues facing our country and candidates are becoming more aware of the voter perception of their moral compass on this issue. A candidates refusing PAC money is bordering on a requirement for some voters and shows the sensitivity to the disparity in income and its link to corruption. While some blindly demonize wealth others are more concerned with thw origin of the wealth and the wariness of the privilege it affords the upper class. It has become such a galvanizing issue that attacking a candidate who is seen as elitist, out of touch, greedy or corrupt.

Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 12:53:19 PM

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Joan Brunwasser

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Reply to Michele Goddard:   New Content

Very good article, Michele! Thank you.

Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 3:47:15 PM

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Michele Goddard

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Reply to Joan Brunwasser:   New Content

Thank you for the feed back Joan. I appreciate it. Hopefully after the next election we will all be writing commentary on how a real populist uprising led to President Bernie Sanders taking down Trump.




Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 8:09:44 PM

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b. sadie bailey

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Good article and well thought. Questions we all need to be asking ourselves; sadly, many will not look at their own double-standards.

Typical of the hypocritical elite class, these elitist scumbags who are in it for power and nothing else, will vilify anyone who wants a more just society - and if that person happens to have EARNED wealth, they'll use that person's wealth against them. Bernie Sanders is no trust fund baby slacker who never worked a day in his life - he actually WORKED for his money, got his campaign money from small donations without corporations, lobbyists, and super pacs. He has, throughout his entire political career and before he was even a politician, fought for justice and righting economic and social disparity. So he wrote a book and made one of the best filibuster speeches in US history - without eating or taking breaks or stopping. So he made money off of book sales... so? So what?!

The two best candidates for this presidency: Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders - don't have a chance with the dumbing down going on through so called "media" and people refusing to think of complexities and paradox. I don't agree with some of what Sanders has done or his weak foreign policy, but I know he is ethical.

Yeah, he should have fought harder about what dirty things were done to him by Hilary Clinton and the DNC - but I know some of his delegates who were there at the democratic convention and who saw him come out of a private meeting with the DNC looking bent - almost broken.

The Handlers have the power - not the president - as long as you serve THEIR agenda. Sanders dared to buck the agenda and they had to destroy him. It's hard to believe that just 4 years ago he has a populist following of such huge scope - and now he has almost zero support.

What the hell happened? Do the US working class, working poor and abject poor have Stockholm Syndrome, and can only love and support their abusers?

Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 4:34:47 PM

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Michele Goddard

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Thank you for the feedback. I think Bernie has able even bigger following now than he had before and that is why the MSM is working overtime to convince us he is an outlier. We have to believe. We have to fight. Write the DNC and tell them that they screwed up big time putting their thumb on tthe scale for Hillary and you hope they learned from their mistake. I know its probably a futile effort because I honestly think the woulld take 4 more years of Trump than to have Bernie win. Now that tells you how sad it is.


Take care,


Mic

Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 6:33:20 PM

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John Lawrence Ré

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It only proves two things: that the working poor would rather be screwed more by someone who publicly acknowledges them than be screwed a little less by someone who regards than as de classe and won't even visit their rust belt sacrifice zones. And that establishment intellecutals are too stupid to understand this.

There's an old saying that at the gates of heaven St. Peter will ask you two questions: how did you make your money, and how did you spend it? Not how much? Bernie only needs to worry about how he spent the money WE gave him...and that is why he is still in purgatory.

Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 7:55:53 PM

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Lee Stanfield

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An excellent, insightful article, which goes much farther than just a discussion of Bernie Sanders. It logically and carefully explains the major reasons that the Trump base votes against their own interests, and the inconsistencies and divides within the Democratic Party.

Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 6:53:47 PM

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Michele Goddard

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Thank you for your kind words. I hope that progressives will take a different approach to Trump voters than what I see in the DNC sulloting Dems. I agree there are Trump voters we don't want under our umbrella, but. I feel like Hillary made a political calculation that "deplorable" (uneducated poor people) lived in areas that didn't mattee because mathmaetically states like WV weren't going to give HER a win. Not only did she decide those people weren't worth the effort but she then used them as punching bag, mocking them, insulting them, to gain favor with elitist Dems in more urban/densely populated areas that would give her more electoral votes. She literally threw those voters to Trump. I know people who didn't want to vote for Trump but were so dejected bt Hillary's insulting behaviour they thought they would give Trump a chance. Many many people who made that choice won't go do far as to say they would change their vote to Hillary if they could but they have serious regrets about having voted for Trump. This very population opens the door for Bernie to win. On CSPAN a week or so ago they took calls from Republicans only asking if another Republican should challenge Trump in the primary. There were a lot who said they wanted another alternative and two out of 29 callers said they will vote for Bernie Sanders. A third saying she is changing parties and voting Democrat this time. I mean that is earth shattering in terms of opportunity. Donald Trump ans Bernie Sanders political ideologies are night and day away from each other so it wasn't ideology that was driving them as much as they wanted an authentic candidate. The DNC believed once they destroyed Bernie that all of his voters would flock to Hillary because in their mind there is no way someone as far to the left as Bernie would ever vote for Trump. But that was the fatal miscalculation they were to arrogant and out of touch to see. Running up to the election I hope all progressives do outreach to those Trump voters who now realize Trump was a liar. Bring them into the fold for a Bernie victory. Thanks again for the feedback.

Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 8:48:33 PM

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