Feel the Bern

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

This journey that you, American consumers, and I have taken realistically cannot be completed without the help of our elected politicians. Without their help, we are merely shadow boxing.  We cannot hope to bring manufacturing back to America without the help and active participation of our politician class.

That is why the upcoming elections are extremely important to our cause. All elections are important, but 2016 is much more important than all the recent presidential elections we’ve held.

Here’s why: for the first time since 1964, and before that for the first time since 1932, the elections of 2016 are fast becoming a potential game changer that will determine the fate of our capitalist system that rewards the top 1% of our population with breathtaking levels of wealth gains while the bottom 99% struggle to make ends meet.

It is a sign of our times that one of the leading contenders for the presidency is an avowed socialist. Bernie Sanders, the 75-year-old Independent senator from Vermont, who is running for the nomination in the Democratic Party, is leading Hillary Clinton in the two earliest primary states – Iowa and New Hampshire – and is fast gaining on Mrs. Clinton in other states, such as Oregon and California.

This is an earth-shaking development. A socialist is close to becoming the standard-bearer for a major political party, the oldest political party that dates back to the Founders’ days.

Who would have thunk?

You can’t comprehend what is happening in this great country of ours, the bastion of democracy in our great world, unless you understand what Bernie Sanders, the Socialist, represents.

These are what Bernie is for: 1) Redistribution of income so that the bottom 99% of Americans get a bigger slice of the benefits of the fully-functioning American economy, which today rewards the top 1% of Americans and says “sorry” to everyone else.

2) Health care for all. Bernie, like many Americans, are wondering why America – the richest country in the history of man – does not have Medicare for all when all the advanced countries in the world have it. He suggests that it is because the power brokers in this country cater to the greedy rich, who resist any new initiatives that will result in those super-rich individuals and families paying more in taxes.

3. He favors increasing Social Security benefits and raising the minimum wage.

4. He champions huge investments in infrastructure repair and improvement.

5. He is for Federal legalization of marijuana, gay rights and preservation of women’s health programs.

6. He is at the forefront of the fight against global warming.

7. He is for a free college education for everyone who wants to go to college.

Many observers of Sanders’ career have pigeonholed him as an admirer of the Scandinavian countries’ cradle-to-grave security for their citizens. Bernie Sanders has frequently pointed out that the Scandinavian countries have some of the highest per-capita income in the world in economic systems that are sometimes described as socialistic. But the reality is that Scandinavian countries are big on capitalism, which means that in the truest sense of the word, the economies of the Scandinavian countries are not “socialistic.”  They are instead welfare states with a passionate embrace of the capitalist economic system.

Lately, Sanders has taken to describing himself as a progressive, and not a true socialist, because he does not favor government ownership of businesses.

Surprisingly, Sanders has not advocated the return of manufacturing to America. That line of attack on the status quo is for Mr. Trump to champion.

From our vantage point here in us-consumer.com – The American Consumer – Sanders’ plan for America is incomplete because he does not champion the return of manufacturing to America. But to an increasing number of Americans, he is the real deal. Sanders is now being mobbed everywhere he goes – like a rock star.

The phenomenon of Sanders and Trump being mobbed on both sides of the political spectrum must be an indication that America has changed. We do not feel secure in the feeling that our government is taking care of us. We feel, instead, that the government takes care of the billionaire class and has neglected to take care of our families’ needs. We are questioning why of all the rich countries in the world we are the only ones who do not have guaranteed health care for all citizens. Perhaps because we Americans are aging – more and more baby boomers are retiring and living longer than ever before – health care has become one of the most important issues of the day, if not the most important.

Our young people want a clean world, a future that is not wrecked by monstrous storms and the melting of polar ice caps. To the young people of America, global warming is a very serious issue. Another reason for the young people’s embrace of Bernie Sanders: his proposal for free college education at public universities.

There is much to like about Bernie Sanders’ political agenda and people are ignoring the fact that the man is an announced socialist, as if to say, “If Sanders’ philosophy is socialistic, then we are all socialists, because we like all these things that Sanders is talking about.”

Progressive, my friends. Sanders is calling his program progressive, not socialist. He is a socialist, but his platform is progressive.

The reality is that America has become progressive. And America has become very impatient with the traditional politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties. That is why we are witness to the spectacle of the leaders of both parties being outmaneuvered by insurgent campaigns. Trump, Dr. Carson and Fiorina account for more than half of the Republican voters’ preferences, while Sanders is beating Hillary in the first two primary states.

We voters have no truck for the traditional politicians in this country. All they do is raise money so they can win in the next election. They don’t legislate. They just put a monkey wrench in the opposite party’s governing plans. The result is stalemate. The result is government shutdowns. The result is more than 300 million Americans waiting for something good to happen in America. And it’s like waiting for Godot, the man who will never come because he is either dead or has no intention of honoring a commitment to come.

We Americans are tired of it all. Next year, 2016, we will go to the polls and show to the world that we – not the 1% billionaire class, not the politicians, not the businessmen and women who have shipped jobs to China because they are unwilling to pay American workers a living wage, not the foreigners who routinely goad America to go to war on their behalf – we the frustrated Americans, the inheritors of the grand union forged centuries ago by Jefferson, Madison, Adams and other Founding Fathers, are the true bosses in this country.

We are disgusted by, we are impatient with, we are resentful of the greedy politicians and billionaire class who refuse to either legislate much-needed taxes or pay their fair share of taxes and who have employed geniuses whose sole raison d’etre is how to figure out ways for the billionaire class to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Feel the Bern, we say. Hold your noses, because Trump has good intentions. Embrace the laconic Dr. Carson, forgive his obvious faults – because he is not a traditional politician.

In the Philippines, traditional politicians are called “trapos” for short. In the Philippine language (Tagalog), trapo means a dirty rag.

Traditional politicians are despised in that country. It could be that in America we are starting to despise our traditional politicians.

What does this all mean? Will we have Sanders or Trump or Carson as our next president? Not necessarily. The elections of 2016 are still fourteen months away.

Some of the traditional politicians in both parties, Hillary Clinton foremost among them, could make a sharp turn to the left.  Hillary has the shortest distance to travel from her left-of-center position.  She is after all close to Sanders on many issues – and with her huge advantage in money and organization she could still upend the Sanders train, overtaking him in the bigger, more industrialized states than Iowa and New Hampshire.

On the Republican side, Mr. Trump may be hard to stop.  His rivals don’t seem to get it. They think that the way to the nomination is pleasing the billionaires who finance their campaigns.

Anyone who doesn’t think that America has changed is in denial. We Americans are sick and tired of our traditional politicians.

We are mad as hell. We won’t take it anymore.

(The writer’s contact email address is: lumbacesar@gmail.com.  If you wish to contact the administrator of this blog, call 702-891-5442 and ask for Cesar.)

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