Empire of Reason Commentary No. 12

To: The People of the United States, November 6, 2021

The Sanders Phenomenon

* * * * *

2016, in the midst of another quadrennial exercise in futility, one that was certainly prolonged and tedious, and one that was accepted by many of the voting public as a presidential election, at the same time they have been divorced from any semblance of the founding principles of Republican government, Consent of the Governed being one, the Republican standard bearer grabbed much of the headlines in the run up to the plebiscite in November.  Indeed it was, day in and day out, Trump!Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!; a nauseatingly monotonous exhibition of that well-worn moniker:  “There is a sucker born every minute:”  His outlandish pronouncements, childish gestures, garish facial expressions, un-presidential demeanor, disrespect for convention, pug-ugly approach to dealing with those who did not see eye-to-eye with this arrogant sawdust Caesar, together with his bullying nature and outright intimidation and threats of violence that were hallmarks of some of his political gatherings which led, in some instances, to assaults on a number of spectators, reminiscent, of course, of Nazi gatherings in Germany, prior to and even after the ascension to power by Hitler.  Emblematic, too, of a growing lack of intellectualism among the American masses and their acceptance of intolerance, in addition to the poverty of civility.  Indeed, the fashion seems to be passion in lieu of thinking.  An indication of a population that cannot be trusted with the studious obligation of being the caretakers of a functioning system of Representative Government.

However the depiction of Bernie Sanders as an outsider candidate is one of the principal fictions of the 2016 presidential campaign.  Indeed, the Green Mountain State Senator is hardly the rebel some would paint him to be.  For Mr. Sanders is affiliated with the Establishment.  For if he was otherwise, he would have been ostracized from Congress many election cycles ago.  A reality readily apparent by his committee and subcommittee memberships:

The Senate Committee on the Budget; Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources—Subcommittee memberships:  Energy, National Parks and Power; Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs; Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension—Subcommittee memberships:  Primary Health and Retirement Security, followed by Children and Families; Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works—subcommittee memberships on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, Fisheries, Water and Wildlife, Transportation and Infrastructure.

The above is hardly the brief of a low-profile politician; rather, a name senator with years standing in the Nation’s Capital, which translates into $$$ for the state he represents.  Too, he is hardly a Utopian Socialist along the lines of a Louis Blanc; nor, is he a hardened revolutionary like Vladimir Lenin.  He caucuses with Democrats; votes consistently with Democrats.  For despite the left-of-center approach for which he is renowned, he had tied his presidential fortunes to an established denomination controlled—for the most part—by such moneyed interests as Wall Street, Big Pharma and Defense Companies. . .   And while Mr. Sanders’ message included such redeeming qualities as more leave time for women who have children; reduction in student loan debt; single-payer health insurance; reduction in the size and power of monolithic financial institutions, neither was he attacking, with any degree of authority—and neither did any of the other competitors in their bids for the presidential sweepstakes—the American Empire and the Military-Industrial-Financial-Security-Congressional Complex.  For if he or any of the other candidates had chosen such a course, they would eventually be ostracized from officialdom.  A heretic like Dennis Kucinich should come to mind here.  Of course, banishment from the Beltway might be the least of concerns for the principled and valorous candidate willing to commit such a transgression; and the same holds true for Ron Paul.

Sanders was running as a Democratic candidate so as to be able to appear on the debates; plus have exposure on popular media, most of which is controlled by six monolithic corporations.  In addition, he had to support the Democratic nominee if it was not himself.  For as he admitted to Chris Hedges, failure to do so would see him reduced in stature like Ralph Nader.  But of greater personal consequence would be his stature as a high-profile senator.  By not catering to the Democratic National Committee “guidelines,” it would be interesting to see how long he would have retained his committee memberships, which in turn, would have meant less $$$ for Vermont.

However like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders represented a growing disenchantment with Establishment Democrats and Republicans.  And while Sanders did not capture the nomination to represent Democrats, unlike the success of Donald Trump, both represent a staying power that is intriguing; that and the amount of irreparable damage they have been able to inflict on those denominations whose banners they were seeking to represent in 2016 and 2020.

The senator from Vermont has been able to generate a following among younger voters.  Many of those of the under 30 set threw their lot with Sanders because they saw in him references to a political and economic future that was noticeably absent with other so-called Establishment candidates.  Mr. Trump, as well, had tapped into similar discord.  Many of his followers were in the 45-64 year old age group; many of whom had high school educations or less, with many of his supporters making less than $50,000 per annum.  Hence the popularity with a message that was as simplistic as it was bombastic.  Regardless, voters subscribing to Sanders and Trump had seemed to understand that they have no future with Establishment Democrats and Republicans . . . a supposition which has much in the way of merit, since many Democrats and Republicans answer the dinner bell of corporate money like Pavlov’s dog and forsake the wishes of the masses.

In the not so distant past, a candidate espousing Socialism was not long for the campaign trail.  However the popularity of Sanders’ candidacy seems to indicate a greater acceptance of this long admonished form of political economy.  Perhaps this underscores a growing disappointment with Capitalism?  Or perhaps the use of Capitalism as preferred by America’s Royalty?  However it is stretching the point to say that a Sanders’ presidency would result in a Socialist America.  Fact of the matter is, a Socialist America already exists, evolving as it has been for decades.  And it is a system that is hardly of a Socialist type for the masses; rather, it is a Corporate Socialist State.  Socialism for the privileged at the expense of the Middle, Working and Poor Classes.  Again, those beneficiaries of the Military-Industrial-Financial-Security-Congressional Complex providing an example.  Makes no difference whether America wins or loses these undeclared wars, the arms merchants still make money.  The Affordable Care Act was another.  A bank bail-out of sorts for the Insurance Companies to the tune of $400 to $500 billion, courtesy of Mr. Obama, who was little better than a corporate employee.  Again, helps to explain those who were seeking alternative forms of leadership in the names of Messrs. Sanders and Trump.

There is currently an up-swell in the electorate venting a displeasure with government.  A discontent rooted in the fact that not only is government not working for them, but that it does not belong to them.  Hence those who place their faith in a Sanders or a Trump as a palliative to such concerns.  A misplaced faith in the end, for these alternatives will prove deficient as well.  For not enough Americans seem to grasp the concept that their responsibility for the political, economic, social and cultural fortunes of this Nation are not limited to the parochial confines of the voting booth; and when considering the turn outs in many of our elections, small wonder that America’s Royalty has been able to fill the resulting void with such initiatives as the Lewis Powell Memo, demise of the Glass-Steagall Act, Citizens United. . .   Translation, elections are becoming increasingly irrelevant.  And as this ominous trend continues, the growing number of those who feel ostracized from the levers of power will pursue other avenues for obtaining power . . . such as the Pavement Parliament where one does not have to be elected, just show up on the Streets. . .

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Mark Albertson

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