What the landscape of American politics has lacked since the summer of 1963 is a grassroots movement with enough momentum to force existing power structures to yield ground. To paraphrase the most iconic part of Lincoln's Gettysburg address: a movement of the marginalized, by the marginalized, for the marginalized. The need for such a movement is manifest to all but those who either benefit from the status quo, are blinded by unquestioning party loyalty or have been fettered by their pathological cynicism.
Why is such a movement required?
By the most conservative of estimates, the richest ten percent of Americans own almost 80% of the total wealth in the country. For the first time in four decades the middle class is no longer a majority. Perhaps the most disturbing and undermentioned statistic is this: the median wealth of the middle class dropped by 40% during the recession and is yet to regain any ground-while the median wealth of the richest one percent returned to it's pre-recession level by 2012 and has since risen steadily. The economic slowdown that wiped out the jobs and savings of millions of hardworking Americans left the affluent untouched-and in some cases wealthier. The ubiquitous slogan of job recovery is a sordid attempt at pacification that does not prestidigitate back the wealth of the middle class squandered by the unchastised sortilege of corporate America. While countless Americans postponed retirements after seeing their savings shrink, the overlords of the banks and mortgage firms that had triggered the economic slowdown retired with bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars.
There is no "trickle down" happening in this inverted pyramid of wealth, on the contrary wealth is consistently departing the lower and middle class and filling the already overflowing coffers of the rich. Let us also remind ourselves here that the trillions (literally) that should have been used to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, rejuvenate our failing school system and address the forty million people living below the poverty line have gone to bailing out the "too big to fail" corporate colossi that engineered their own implosions.
There is much that needs to change here. And that is not all.
The same corporations that have caused so much damage to the economy also exert their influence on government to the detriment of the American citizen. We have a lobby for everything under the sun. We cannot import affordable medications from Canada because it harms the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. We cannot have affordable, uncomplicated single-payer health insurance because private Health Insurance is a 900 billion dollar industry that donates generously to Presidential campaigns. Sensible gun laws cannot be legislated when 236 Republican and 75 Democratic congressmen receive donations from the NRA.
Worst of all, war itself seems to have become an industry. We have reached a point in the post-WMD, Halliburton and Blackwater world where there are competing narratives in the media about why and how wars are being fought. In 1961 President Eisenhower warned us that: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."
It seems that the warning was not quiet heeded; today half the political discourse is focused on fear-mongering and many on the Republican side advocate bombing cities and putting "boots on the ground" as if they were talking about a sport. Perhaps war is indeed a sport to them.
Thing is, this long awaited grassroots movement has arrived-in the form of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. Here is a chance to put in the Office of President an individual who is willing to fight for the subaltern and who has proven over and over in his political career his will and determination to do so. Many are yet to realize the significance of what this campaign constitutes. Here is a self-made politician who has built his career from scratch and who is not subservient either to lobbyists or to purblind party loyalties. Here is a candidate who has throughout his career as a congressman and Senator voted according to his conscience. Far more often than not, his vote has landed on the right side of history and the aspirations of the American people.
This is not an opportunity we can miss. Those who are still stuck on "socialism" need to start ignoring the unschooled canards floated by the GOP and Fox News and inform themselves about what the word actually means. Better still, listen to Bernie Sanders define what the "Democratic Socialism" he espouses entails.
There are those who insist that without the cooperation of Congress and Senate the presidency can achieve nothing, that one can only bring change by working "within the system". One could take this argument seriously were it not for the fact that the failure of Congress to pass sensible gun laws, the sabotage of the Affordable Healthcare Act and the immutability of the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich are staring us in the face. Unfortunately, what the Obama administration continued to do was to work "within the system" which allowed the GOP to block any legislation that ran contrary to the interest of corporate lobbies. The President of the United States is most certainly not a powerless puppet unless the office allows itself to be as such. In Bernie Sanders we have a candidate who will at least resist the influence of lobbies and use Presidential power to do what he constitutionally can to rid the country of the parasitic oligarchy that currently dictates terms.
Bernie Sanders is more than just a presidential candidate; he is the face of a wave of indignation from within every race, religion and ethnicity. He represents Americans who are tired of an establishment that is perpetually willing to sacrifice their futures at the altar of vested interests. Who reject a dispensation that cannot put aside party loyalty to legislate for the common good. Who are shocked and horrified by the war machine that one administration after another has kept feeding. Who believe that true liberalism does not merely raise slogans of liberty and equality but ensures that these rights are truly made inalienable.
Bernie Sanders will win Iowa, New Hampshire and everything after. The nation has awakened from its slumber and the oligarchic Bastille of the establishment should prepare to fall.