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The Problem with Bernie

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The media are in a tizzy over Senator Bernie Sanders' announcement that he is seeking the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination. The amount of money he raised in the 24 hours after his announcement demonstrates the support he drew in 2016 has largely remained with him. The intimation is that drawing so big a stash so quickly makes him the frontrunner long before any serious polling has been conducted. Not that this is bad news for anyone who already has thrown her or his hat into the ring to date.

The Sanders campaign is beaming that the average size of contributions is $27. According to them, this qualifies as a grassroots campaign like none other. Except it isn't. By definition a grassroots campaign relies on support from people who only can contribute small amounts but supplement the cash with volunteering. There is nothing exceptional about how Sanders is raising money.

Sanders talked a lot about a political revolution. He still brings it up. To this political scientist who focused his studies on political-change movements, Sanders did not and still does not show any indications of leading a political revolution. Revolutions take place when organizations outside the existing political structures take control of policy-making from those political structures. The revolutionary groups may call themselves parties as Lenin's Bolsheviks and Mao's Communists did. They stand out because they develop outside the bounds of the established political sphere.

Bernie Sanders made a fleeting effort at creating an independent political organization after Donald Trump was elected. To all appearances, it has been no more than a holding tank to keep the Senator's supporters interested. Otherwise, Bernie Sanders has done nothing more than develop a run-of-the-mill presidential-nomination campaign.

The problem with Bernie is that he is just as loose about using language to describe his efforts as the current Commander-in-Chief. Keep identifying one's followers as a grassroots movement, but don't make out that it is something new or innovative. Just be happy you're popular enough to have so many supporters. Stop talking about a political revolution when the only apparatus involved is one's campaign committee working to secure a nomination from the Democratic Party.

If Senator Sanders really wants to stand out, then he ought to create a group that identifies the policy changes needed to rectify the abysmal condition of the American Dream, educates citizens about how change can be affected, and seeks the support of the other candidates to participate in drawing up a legislative program that will be presented to Congress in 2021 to end corporate personhood, revamp the tax structure to look more like it did in the 1950s and '60s, improve citizen participation, overhaul the nation's infrastructure, settle immigration issues along the lines of the DREAM Act, attack climate change, amend the Constitution as needed to combat the existence of a permanent political class that does nothing but work for its own re-election, put in place drug laws that address addiction as a disease, and provide everyone with access to education that reflects their ability to be educated.

The revolution is not going to come if the supposed leader continues to do nothing more than seek the nomination for president from a party that has shown how far it will go to prevent revolution from occurring.

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Bear Kosik is a political scientist by training. His Remaking Democracy in America was published in the fall of 2018 by Stairway Press. Well-received science fiction novels (two under Hugh Dudley) are available on Amazon. Several screenplays (more...)

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