America Opinion

A Step After Bernie

Super Tuesday is meaningless if we can’t take one step forward.

I recently unsubscribed from the Bernie Sanders email list. The incessant need for contributions was annoying. I realize all campaigns are structured like that, and it was his snubbing of the Super PAC that first impressed me, so raising $75M at an average of $27 with well over 2 Million donors (more than Obama) is a political victory that I respect. At least one major candidate needed to say no to that system.

The other potential president who managed to rebel against campaign finance was Donald Trump, but that’s because he’s a billionaire and not because he’s concerned about the will of the people. He’s certainly not concerned about wealth disparity or the corruptibility of mass media injected with money for  campaign commercials.

Bernie Sanders has my support because he is the only candidate who comes anywhere close to taking the step we need to take, what Noam Chomsky describes as a democratic, engaged body politic. It is not partisan, it is engagement. We have a consumer electorate. We consume the conversation rather than engage with it as we are each a part of the political body.

Bernie had put together something impressive in the beginning. First, he organized 100 thousand supporters for a live-streamed organizer meeting, broken down into neighborhoods across the nation. There were dozens in Portland, gathering thousands into local bars, backyards, and even theaters.

Ten different cards with topics from climate change to worker cooperative management were laid out on a table at the entryway to a warehouse, with hundreds of Berners milling about. We were supposed to engage with each other and learn about the issues, and many did.

He said there what he would repeat time and again: Even if he is elected, there would need to be a continuously engaged electorate, and that no president can realize the will of the people without the undying will of the people, or a “grassroots movement.”

His words were a relief from the self-congratulatory thumping of Clinton and Trump.

Bernie’s work still ended up as a traditional campaign. It was effective for rallying volunteers and producing media at the beginning. If his campaign is a grassroots movement, then he’s just starting another political schism, another sect, another division of hardline progressives against hardline conservatives.

The whole campaign process you see now is a joke. It takes us further away from the issues. Candidates just go around telling us what we need, what laws are best for us, what makes them so awesome, what they can promise in a political environment that no longer serves the body politic.

The national television debates are a joke. Not a single topic is actually discussed. It’s just a platform for statements already repeated throughout stump speeches across the country. Now, it’s an opportunity for candidates to abuse one another.

A discussion would be more productive, so that the candidates take their strengths and weaknesses into account and learn about how to deal with real issues.

When Bernie came to Portland, it was his best attended stump speech yet, with over 20 thousand at capacity in Moda Center. For an hour, the passionate progressive laid out his platform with tremendous applause from an eager audience. He said things that most are thinking. His words were a relief from the self-congratulatory thumping of Clinton and Trump. His presence was powerful. But it was just a speech — there was no civic engagement. It might as well be a Blazers game.

I am confident that for every Trump speech, they also feel he expresses what they’re thinking — or at least it feels honest because he wings it. But it doesn’t feel honest to me unless I assume he is an ignorant man, like he doesn’t know any better.

Clinton is the person that progressives acquiesce into. She exploits a lack of voter confidence from those who are informed, and exploits the ignorant voter base, the same kind of people voting for Trump: People that have heard of her and that’s all they need to know. I can promise you I am not voting Clinton, just to go against the Republican. I will write in Chomsky. I represent a wide margin there.

So there is a question about Clinton’s electability. Polls suggest that Bernie trumps every Republican candidate, chiefly because he is outspoken and independent. Without Clinton backing Bernie, the Democratic party will be split down the center and she may not earn the votes to barrel over a Republican candidate.

Let both of these parties fall apart. I don’t want to see a total upheaval of our government, but I want to see party politics dissolve. I want to see the electorate become intelligent and mend the partisan divide. There needs to be a real desire inside all politically engaged people to learn from one another, and to use our government to help one another. It is that simple. The system will form around that desire.

It can no longer be about self-identity. The political parties have abused our self-identity, our loyalty to the party we align with. We can gather and become more than a collection of individual issues and allegiances. We can form a sensible body politic that fully utilizes technology to share real, vetted information, related to actual public concerns. No matter who earns the candidacy, the forward step we must take is away from ourselves, away from a candidate, toward each other.

Sean Ongley

By Sean Ongley

Co-Founder of THRU Media. A background in non-profit, music, and radio preceded my ambitions here. Now, I aspire to produce new media and publish independent journalism at this site and beyond.

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