Progressives have good reason for being excited about Bernie Sanders’ run for president. It has been many decades since a true progressive had a good chance of getting the nomination of one of the major parties, and his rise in popularity is nothing short of thrilling.
Of course, as his momentum increases, one should expect that the powers he threatens will seek any dirty way to stop him.
The standard slanderous accusation of assaulting a woman will not get much traction, if nothing has been said yet at his 74 years of age. Sanders is among the least wealthy senators after more than 30 years in public office so accusations of corruption will not go very far either.
As for his voting record, he has been monolithic and always consistent with his ideals. So he will not be caught in a “if-we-had-known-then-what-we-know-now” flip-flop.
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More importantly, when Sanders talks he always brings the discussion to the core of the problems and does not let himself be distracted by the pre-cooked arenas for discussion the media like to offer up.
For years the establishment has successfully created spaces for safe dissent where the leftish people can exercise their right to “stick it to the man” and still make sure the system is not threatened.
So we have a social left, a fiscal left, an environmental left and a gun control left; but that gives the establishment what they really want: a divided left.
Issues like women’s rights, gay rights and police violence against minorities — worthy causes as they may be — provide safe spaces where the left can engage in dissent, and even make progress, without representing any danger to the bottom line of the people in power.
However, Sanders does not go for the raw meat. It is easy to score points with the precooked sound bites the media likes but he steers clear from them. No matter how they set him up to take the bait he brings the discussion back to the lack of opportunity for some classes of society, and how the rich shamelessly game the system.
These are issues that the establishment, with the complicity of the media, has managed to keep out of the discussion for decades and Sanders’ run for the presidency alone is bringing them back. This is important because so long as he is running and so long as he does not do the dance he can trigger what the establishment fears the most: An awakening of the American people.
Let’s support his run but we also need to be aware of the enemy he is facing. The establishment does not accept defeat kindly, or at all. Looking at history, it is clear that every time the powerful have a losing hand they kick the table.
As their attempts to smear Sanders crash against the wall of his integrity, the establishment is not above resorting to dirtier strategies.
I am worried that he may suffer a freak accident or an old-fashioned, 1960s-style assassination. This may sound farfetched but we need to remember the people calling the shots then (quite literally), are the same calling the shots now.
They have too much power, too few scruples and too much to lose with Sanders’ run. We need to send a clear message that the country is changing for the better and we will not allow them to take us back to the old ways.