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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/2/16

The Berniecratic Revolution

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We were on such a roll: every Democratic president of my lifetime had a "B" first name. Bill, Barack, and the hope was that Bernie would be next. Only Bernie was never interested in becoming president. His aim was to bring the most significant issues of our time to light, push the Democratic Party further left, and return the United States to its progressive roots.

And this is only the beginning of "Feeling the Bern!" Our success story expands as we elect as many progressive Democrats as possible. This will help put Senator Sanders in charge of more budgets and committees, making him one of the most powerful and influential individuals in the nation.

The Berniecrats have reshaped our national discourse, and will help determine what figure is best equipped to direct the next chapter of our 240-year-experiment in democracy: a pragmatic moderate with a steady hand and decades of executive-level-qualifications, or a seemingly schizophrenic authoritarian whose utter disregard for civics and diplomacy makes George W. Bush look like Abraham Lincoln.

A victory for Mrs. Clinton would be excellent news for those of us happy to be living in a country that no longer waterboards, no longer allows ill citizens to be denied health insurance, no longer puts private companies in charge of federal prisons, and no longer restricts gay marriage.

Bernie himself has described the 2016 Democratic Party Platform as "the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party." Should we fail to hold President Clinton's feet to the fire, then running a Sanders/Warren primary challenge can be our plan "B." The Berniecrats must continue pushing the country further left to ensure that this is truly (to quote Jasmine Richards) "a movement, not a moment."

Of course a small percentage of the Berniecrats will not be supporting the Democratic Party. Many of them seem to hate Hillary more than they like Bernie, which is bizarre. Some will support Trump, even though his potential as a populist vanished as soon as he picked one of our nation's most anti-gay and anti-choice governors as a running mate.

And what about the third and fourth-party candidates? While this is nothing like the wacky four-way-election of 1912, the rise in popularity of Green and Libertarian candidates may prove formidable. Jill Stein has some likable policies, but virtually none of the experience required in running a country. Gary Johnson (who might be an even bigger con-artist than Trump) attracts a lot of youth with his stance on marijuana and gay marriage. However, he favors state regulation only, jeopardizing our national safety net. Johnson also supports the TPP, which is no surprise considering the Libertarian Party was created as a front-group for billionaires wanting to deregulate as much of the federal government as possible.

It's also important to acknowledge that the Democratic Party almost vanished in the 1980s. When Reagan destroyed his Democratic opponents in two consecutive landslide elections, it seemed like that was it for the Democrats. The Clintons, however, managed to revitalize the party, but in doing so had to take on some very center-right positions. Now that the country's demographics have shifted, we need to build a real progressive movement within the Democratic party in the same way the Tea Party built an infrastructure within the Republican Party.

We have such a tremendous opportunity to create a bluer nation. From the very first primary debates, it became clear that one party gives us no chance of reform. Not a single one of the Republican candidates seemed to believe in a social contract. Nothing about protecting the environment, no mention of affordable college, and absolutely zero discussion of our failed criminal justice system. Instead the candidates told us about fantasy football and genital size.

The first Democratic debate though, showed a very promising cabinet taking shape. Webb to head defense, Sanders in charge of education and health reform, O'Malley to get us 100% green and renewable energy by 2030, and Hillary's executive experience to, well, execute. (Sorry Chafee, no job for you.) This would be the kind of administration the disenfranchised can work with and push.

Don't fall into a cult of personality or the "great man" theory of history. Remember that both F.D.R. and L.B.J. were establishment hawks when they came into office, yet both adjusted their positions with pressure from the commons: adopting extremely progressive policies and eliminating poverty more effectively than any other presidents. There is an old saying that "we may not get to choose who we're in the lifeboat with, what matters is that they know how to row!"

Remember, don't feel blue -- vote blue (no matter who)! Millions of Americans are voting for the very first time, and we must remain engaged with the political process. After all, Bernie is just getting started. Let's be the change we want to see and overwhelm the Democratic apparatus with as much progressivism, positivity, and populism as possible. And if you're still not happy, get involved with your local precinct committees. Show up to meetings. Real change comes from the bottom-up. Issue by issue, vote by vote. Get out there and get active. As Thom Hartmann says "tag, you're it!"

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Colin Kramer is a magician, investigator, and professor of speech and debate. He teaches at Kudos College of Youth Leadership and can be followed on Twitter @clnkrmr.
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