I have to admit that I have learned so much more about America and our political and social realities thanks to this election year and Bernie Sanders. It's almost like I am some teenager seeing things the way they are for the first time instead of a 55 year old man who should have known some of these realities a long time ago.
What my eyes have been opened to this election season in a way they have never been opened before is the depth of the truth in what Sanders says about our system being deeply rigged. Let's be clear, I am not saying as a black man originally from the South that I did not understand long ago that American society was definitely tilted in favor of whites, men, straights, the wealthy, the attractive and Christians for example. The reality of the privilege inherent to those groups has always been obvious. But I guess this year, as I have watched the way the entire system has piled on I have come to realize in a much deeper way that those in power, even those with a little bit of power, will do everything they can to maintain the system.
Of course we all know this was and is the reality when we are talking about the 1 percent who own and control mostly everything there is in our society. And we always knew the political ruling class would do what they could to stay on the side of power, including conspiring with the 1 percent when necessary, by taking their money and doing their bidding in order to curry favor. So there were no surprises there. But what jolted me the most from my previous misunderstanding about how powerful the whole system is and how wide it stretched was in not fully accepting the fact that even those on the Left could be part of that rigged system. Of course seeing it now it is obvious. Those in power, even when the power is on a side I support, will support actions that maintain power. The idea of an "establishment" in the women's movement, in the black and Hispanic communities, in the "liberal media," in the Left in general, is not one we typically think of. But that establishment is very real. And has it ever raised its ugly head during this primary season.
The Clinton campaign has pulled the lever unleashing, and maybe I should say, exposing, the depth of the Left Establishment in all its fury. First there was Clinton herself admonishing Sanders for daring to imply that she, a woman, was part of the establishment. Then there was the attack of the feminist icons to carry that mantle for her, Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright. Once the primary race became more about race, when blacks and Hispanics were part of the conversation, Hilary's campaign has further unleashed a surrogate team of Latino and Black leaders to do their part in taking down Sanders. As with the feminist icons, the black surrogates have included many established black leaders such as Representatives John Lewis and Jim Clyburn.
By no means am I saying this surrogate game is not a standard part of politics. But what I am saying is that watching the lineup of these folks coming out for Clinton is like watching a who's who list of what makes up the establishment core of the Left. Sure these people, women and minorities that they are, have long battled the bigger establishment of power and money in our society. But let's not continue our naiveté by not realizing that all of them represent a different power structure, their own establishment. And be not mistaken, they will do whatever is necessary to remain a part of that power structure. Hillary Clinton is the next in line to the throne, at least so the Left Establishment has decided, and that includes the DNC. And those that want favor from her when and if she occupies the White House, again, are doing their part to make sure their position in the Left Establishment remains secure.
I can totally see why so many in that establishment are so caught off guard and so surprised by the sheer enthusiasm Sanders gets from young people, from young women, from even young blacks and Latinos. Young people are not as beholden to the old guard. They respect what they have done but young voters have made it clear they want to blow the system up. And to the horror of those in power, whether Left or Right, that includes them. It is why there was such outrage from the Left Establishment when Bernie called out the leaders of Planned Parenthood when they endorsed Mrs. Clinton. "So I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights [Campaign] Fund and Planned Parenthood," he said. "But you know what? Hillary Clinton has been around for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment."
Despite the huffing and puffing from some feminists and the Clintons about his statement, Sanders was absolutely right. Planned Parenthood and any of those long-standing advocacy groups, including ones like the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, or other long time leaders, are indeed establishment. They may not like admitting it or accepting it. But at some point they have become a part of a system and structure of power. And they do not want to lose their place. Sanders threatens that place. So the establishment goes into survival mode. And watching it in action has not been pretty.
Even the liberal media is not immune and has been exposed as party to the structure of power that is fighting for its position and access. As someone who faithfully watches MSNBC as being the only place I felt I could get news and analysis with more of a liberal spin, I have been amazed at even them, for showing their bias in this election. Don't even let me get started on Chris Matthews in particular, who I can't even watch any more, for his open advocacy for Hillary Clinton. But he is not alone. The media, MSNBC, CNN and all the major networks and papers are definitely lined up as part of a structure of power that is beholden to those in power from whom they want access and from whom they expect to keep them in power.
As you can tell by now, yes I am a Sanders supporter, though to be clear, I didn't start out that way. But as the truth of what he has been saying, about our rigged system, become more and more obvious, the more and more I have decided the young people are right on this one. We do need to shake the system up. No real change is going to take place unless we do. And whether it is part of the Left or the Right, establishment ways of doing things are keeping the current structure intact. And I agree if we are going to be different, change things up, then let's do it. Even those who didn't start their fight being a part of any establishment, like the Steinem's, Albright's and Lewis's of the world, have found themselves now a part of a system that benefits from the power of the old guard. And while the Left Establishment is on the outside of the Right Establishment, their fights and differences often don't amount to much change in the long run.
I am afraid Sanders is going to have a real hard time winning when the fight against the establishment means fighting the Left and the Right. But it doesn't mean the fight isn't worth it and it doesn't mean his message of a rigged economy and rigged political system isn't getting through. And in that sense he has already won by waking up so many of us to the truth.