During Obama's 2008 campaign, idealism was at its height in America. Obama's speeches were inspiring; debate answers showed decisiveness. It was a grand election. But then, after the world celebrated and black people everywhere wiped their tears, Obama went to Washington and we all got schooled.
In 2008, the Tea Party Era began and we saw thousands of Americans waving "Don't Tread On Me" flags. They were protesting a bill that would provide relief funds to underwater homeowners and invest in repairing infrastructure across the country. These Teabaggers protested education reform, unions, Patient Protection, and the Affordable Care Act--all on the basis of them being part of that black man's big-spending socialist agenda. To hear them tell it, the middle-class was "taxed enough already" and national healthcare would see us all standing before death panels.
Back in 2008, I was adamantly opposed to a Hillary Clinton presidency. Her caution made her seem stiff and out of touch. Her careful-not-to-over-promise answers felt rehearsed. I thought it was offensive that Bill Clinton would suggest that Americans wouldn't support Obama because he was black. Today, after what feels like a rise in racism and the right's relentless smear campaign of progressive ideals, the Clintons don't sound so crazy. In fact, in the wake of the 8 years of absolute obstruction, it's the Bernie supporters that sound insanely naive.
It's convenient to believe, as some Bernie supporters proclaim, that Obama is just a "plutocratic tool of big business and the war machine." That, as Bernie himself has suggested, there just wasn't the will or the know-how to get all of the progressive agenda passed. But for those of us who clearly remember the president fighting a government shutdown because Boehner, McConnell, Cantor, Ryan and Republicans et al were refusing to extend unemployment benefits during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, passing a progressive agenda seems to definitely require more than a charm offensive or a mandate, for that much. For those of us who have paid attention over the past eight years, we wonder how is any voter still wowed by speeches and diatribes instead of straight facts and a well-thought out strategy?
Bernie supporters don't like questions. Most have big ideas but not clear answers. Perhaps because the press has yet to grill Bernie over his proposals, they haven't been given the answers. So I'm asking Bernie, or his trusty advisers, ten questions whose answers would give us a clear idea of what a Bernie presidency would look like.
1. Denmark is a country of 5.6M. The U.S. is a country of 320M. Are there enough rich people in the United States to tax to pay for tuition for all?
2. Denmark's lowest income-tax rate is 30%. The lowest income-tax rate in the U.S. is 0. Does that change in order to pay for healthcare and tuition for all?
3. As for universal healthcare, how do you compel the legion of doctors and hospitals that currently refuse to see patients with Obamacare, to not go private and accept cost controls of single-payer healthcare?
4. Small businesses are supposed to be the lifeblood of the future. How will small businesses afford to hire Americans and grow their business if the minimum wage is $15/hr instead of $12/hr?
5. You speak a lot about Hillary's Wall Street donations. Do you think we can have a robust economy without Wall Street?
6. Is "working with" Wall Street the same as "working for" Wall Street? Will you work with Wall Street?
7. And speaking of votes: you have stood by your record as fighter for civil rights and opponent of the gun lobby. Yet, you voted to prohibit cities and families from suing gun distributors and manufacturers whose guns flood the inner city to kill African American young people in record numbers. Did you vote against the legislation because you were protecting the interests of the mom and pop gunshops in your state?
8. Do you regret that vote?
9. In 1930, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff slowed the economy and decreased our GDP. Some say it contributed to the Great Depression. In today's global economy, how do you compel businesses to pay Americans $23/hr when they can pay a worker in Asia .56 cents/hr without implementing tariffs?
10. And finally, the most important question: seeing as though there is Fox News and enough rightwing voters in the country to deliver a Republican majority in Congress, how will you get your agenda passed?
In America, we may all want a revolution but, clearly, it's not the same revolution. There are voters in this country that think it's anti-police to speak out against police brutality, and anti-soldier to speak out against unjust wars. They think taking from the rich to give to the poor is as equally unjust as taking from the poor to give to the rich. They believe taxes are a boot on their neck and civil rights are special rights. They oppose a woman's right to choose and a gay person's right to marry while fervently protecting the right to own a gun. They believe America is a white Christian country, and go so far as to literally rewrite history books to make it seem so.
These are the people we share the country with and they have representation in government. Whomever the Democrats choose as the nominee shouldn't underestimate them and any plan to "revolutionize" this country better take them and the realpolitik into account.