Monday, March 02, 2020

Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love

Earlier this evening I joined with approximately 8,000 others at a presidential campaign event with and for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, currently the front-runner in the Democratic party's presidential race. Tonight's "Get Out the Vote" rally for Bernie was held in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in downtown St. Paul.

Right: Yes, I'm a proud Bernie Sanders for President supporter! Before she suspended her campaign, author Marianne Williamson was another presidential candidate I supported. I wore my "Marianne 2020 – Department of Peace" jacket to Bernie's rally as the establishment of such a department is something I hope he'd consider if elected president. Marianne officially endorsed Bernie on February 23.

At tonight's rally I was with several hundred others in the overflow space of the venue, and before he delivered his speech in the main auditorium, Bernie, accompanied by his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders, came and spoke to us for about fifteen minutes. I'm sure there's no way I would have been as close to Bernie as I was if I had been part of the main crowd inside!

“Operation Bernie Block”

Bernie was in Minnesota ahead of Super Tuesday tomorrow, when 14 states, including Minnesota, will hold primaries. For Democrats, more than 1,300 delegates will be handed out, making it the biggest day of the presidential nomination process so far.

As Bernie Sanders was speaking in Minnesota, former vice-president Joe Biden, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, held a campaign rally in Texas where three former 2020 presidential candidates (Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota's own Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who dropped out just today) endorsed him.

Notes Rolling Stone writer Andy Kroll:

The Democratic field is now down to five candidates: Biden, Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. One way to organize the field is into two camps: the progressive flank (Sanders and Warren) and the moderate [or centrist] establishment flank (Biden and Bloomberg). Going into Super Tuesday, there is a leader and secondary figure in each flank – Sanders for the progressives and Biden for the moderates.

Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke’s endorsements of Biden is the clearest sign yet that the establishment plans to coalesce around Biden in hopes of denying Sanders the nomination. Call it Operation Bernie Block.

– Andy Kroll
Rolling Stone
March 2, 2020

At tonight's rally in St. Paul, Sanders acknowledged this strategy on the part of the establishment but dismissed it, noting that he has something that Biden doesn't to win the White House: the momentum of a surging campaign fueled by a grassroots and diverse movement of millions of working-class people.

In their endorsement of Sanders, the editors of The Nation magazine write the following about this historic movement.

As of this morning, Bernie Sanders – a Jewish grandfather with an indelible Brooklyn accent – is the leading contender for the Democratic nomination. He got there by forging a movement campaign that expands our understanding of what can be achieved in the electoral arena and that invites us to imagine that government of, by, and for the people might actually be possible.

The movement Sanders has helped to build – a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of working-class women and men, people of all ages, all faiths, gay, straight, and trans, veterans and pacifists, teachers, farmers, bus drivers, nurses, and postal workers coming together to demand justice and redeem the endlessly deferred promise of America – deserves our enthusiastic support. Most crucially at this point in the 2020 campaign, this movement and this candidate deserve our votes.

– The Editors
The Nation
March 1, 2020

A “revolution of values”

I also believe that Sanders' movement embodies the “revolution of values” that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently called for. Following is a five-and-a-half-minute video created by Matt Orfalea that serves as a timely and powerful reminder of this.

Someone else who has long recognized the need for a “revolution of values” in our world and who has been consistent in inviting people to embody in their lives – and then facilitate in their communities – this kind of paradigm shift, is author and former 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.

We need a completely different ordering principle for human civilization. Right now we order human civilization according to economic principles and I believe we should order human civilization according to humanitarian principles. It should be considered [for example] as completely morally unacceptable that 17,000 children die of starvation every single day. . . . As long as we make economics our bottom line rather than love, we will continue to move in a direction which is less and less sustainable for the survival of the human race.

Now some people say it’s naive to believe that you can make love the bottom line. I believe that it’s naive to think that we can survive on this planet for another 100 years if we do anything less than that. . . . [This kind of] radical shift which, yes, begins with the individual, must then become something which we stand for in terms of our culture and our politics as well. You and I might get as enlightened as we can get, but if our governments are still behaving insanely then we have a problem on this planet.

– Marianne Williamson
May 23, 2013

At a rally in Austin, Texas, last month (right), Marianne endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, noting that Sanders “has been taking a stand for a very long time. . . . I’m here, and you’re here because it’s time for us to take a stand with Bernie.”

She previously endorsed him in 2016, and her words then are just as meaningful and compelling today. In retrospect, they’re also quite prophetic.

I don't think the American people are going to go with an establishment voice. Americans have an instinctive knowing that something’s going on; something’s coming up from the bottom of things. No one who is entrenched within the perspective of the status quo is going to lead us out of the miasma that we are in now. It’s not just this country. This entire human race is, like, on the Titanic, heading for the iceberg. We must turn this ship around. Bernie Sanders is the one who speaks with moral authority, who actually challenges – doesn’t just pussyfoot around it – but actually challenges the status quo and talks not only about where we need to be fierce in our “no,” but also fierce in our “yes.”

– Marianne Williamson
January 26, 2016

Which side are you on? Hope or fear?

I conclude this post by sharing some more images from the Get Out the Vote rally in St. Paul this evening with Bernie Sanders.

My photos are accompanied by another excerpt from The Nation's endorsement of Sanders, one that presents a challenge by reminding us that in this year's U.S. presidential election the fundamental question is also the oldest one: Which side are you on? . . . Hope or fear? . . . Deep (i.e., radical) systemic change or retrenchment and retreat into the status quo?


If Bernie Sanders had simply demonstrated that it is possible to wage a competitive campaign for the presidency without relying on wealthy donors, corporate funders, or secretive PAC money, he would have earned his place in history.

If all Sanders had to show for his two campaigns for the presidency was the greatest leftward shift in the political discourse since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second term – putting not just Medicare for All but also the Green New Deal, free public higher education, fair taxation, cancellation of student debt, housing as a human right, universal free child care, and an unwavering critique of the billionaire class firmly onto the political agenda – we would owe him our gratitude.

If his contribution to the debate on foreign policy never went beyond refusing to endorse trade deals that harm workers, denouncing America’s endless wars, and reasserting Congress’s control over presidential adventurism – and had not also included defying AIPAC and the Israel lobby, reminding Americans that many of those crossing our borders are fleeing dictators sustained by Washington, and maintaining his long-standing rejection of authoritarianism at home or abroad – we would still recognize Sanders as a prophetic figure.

. . . Bernie Sanders and the movements he supports (and that support him) have created a populist moment, a vibrant and growing alternative to the tired shibboleths of austerity and market fundamentalism. They are exposing and upending the white nationalist con that promises a blue-collar boom while cutting taxes for the rich and gutting health care, environmental protection and education for the rest of us.

Four years ago, when Sanders began his battle, we supported him, arguing that in his candidacy "movements for greater equality and justice have found an ally and a champion. In contrast to the right-wing demagogues who exploit [our national crisis] to foment division, the Vermont senator has reached into a proud democratic-socialist tradition to revive the simple but potent notion of solidarity. We must turn to each other, not on each other, Sanders says, and unite to change the corrupted politics that robs us all."

Yet when we look beyond the corridors of power, we cannot despair. Not while we’re also in the middle of a long season of revolt, from the millions of women (and allies) in their pink pussy hats protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration to successful teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Los Angeles, and Chicago, to demonstrations culminating in the removal of Puerto Rico’s corrupt, sexist governor – and that’s just in the United States. From Beirut to Baghdad and from Haiti to Hong Kong, people are rising up together to demand an end to corruption and the politics of divide and rule.

Sanders has made this global outcry a part of his 2020 campaign. He has gathered his forces and moved against America’s oligarchy, and this time he’s had company – and competition. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy appealed to progressives who, though they shared many of the Sanders campaign’s goals, worried that his age, his fiery manner, or his avowal of democratic socialism would be handicaps in the battle to defeat Trump. She appealed, as well, to the millions of Americans who believe that it is long past the time when this country should elect a progressive woman as its president. Along with Sanders, Warren has widened the left lane of American politics. While Sanders has popularized the idea of a political revolution, Warren’s detailed plans have given depth and meaning to proposals for Medicare for All and a wealth tax. The pair have differed on details, but Warren and Sanders have been such a potent team – especially in last summer’s debates – that some here argued they ought to form a ticket.

That still seems like an idea worth considering. For the time being, the view that Warren needs to remain in the race for as long as possible has adherents even among some Sanders backers, who recognize her ability to attract support among constituencies Sanders can’t easily reach by himself, and rack up delegates committed to a progressive candidate. But that is true only as long as her role remains constructive. If Sanders should do more to discourage his supporters from engaging in personal attacks – and we believe that he should – Warren must recognize that at this point in the race, any criticism by her of Sanders or his record only benefits their common enemies. Solidarity is a virtue that must be practiced as well as preached.

Because, while there might have once been grounds for argument about which of the two progressives would make a better president, there are now only three candidates with a realistic path to the Democratic nomination: Sanders and the two so-called moderates, Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg. We still believe that Biden would be a uniquely weak challenger to Trump, forfeiting the high ground on corruption, the Iraq War, and even #MeToo issues while being forced to defend his record on mass incarceration, bankruptcy revision, and his coziness with credit card companies and the banks. Still, the worst that can be said against Biden is that he’d probably lose the election. A Bloomberg nomination would offer Americans desperate for relief from decades of stagnant income, industrial decline, and grotesque inequality their choice of plutocrats. Even if Bloomberg were to win, the Democratic Party would be damaged beyond repair.

Fortunately, thanks to the movement that has lifted him up, Sanders offers an alternative that is more than merely credible. Sanders 2020 is possible – and with it the promise of a different future. He is running and winning as a candidate who has repeatedly shown genuine moral courage – exemplified by his steadfast support for Palestinian rights and immediate denunciation of the rush to war with Iran. This makes him the living antithesis to Trump and the president’s most formidable challenger. Sanders has already raised $167 million ($46 million from more than 2 million donors in February alone) from millions of small donors who will continue to support his campaign in the fall.

Sanders won the most votes in Iowa, the most votes and delegates in New Hampshire, and a commanding victory in Nevada – the most representative, diverse electorate of the early states – across divisions of race, class, and language. Though his second-place finish in South Carolina indicates Sanders still has work to do with African American voters, national polls show him currently leading in every demographic except voters over 55 and beating Trump convincingly in every head-to-head match-up. What is perhaps most exciting about the Sanders campaign is his commitment to expanding the electorate, which could produce a sweeping victory for his presidential campaign and congressional Democrats this fall.

That is the promise and possibility of the Sanders campaign – whether you call him a democratic socialist or a New Deal Democrat. Even as the corporate media ignores his achievements, denigrates his chances, and magnifies his every misstep, Sanders has two [advantages] none of his competitors can match or deflect. The first is his consistency. One reason Sanders won 67 percent of the vote in his last Senate campaign in Vermont, easily out-polling the Republican governor who was elected at the same time, is that even voters who disagree with him know he means what he says. Biden has to lie about getting arrested in support of South Africa’s black freedom struggle. Sanders was actually getting arrested in America’s black freedom struggle before Biden was old enough to vote. As we find ourselves on a hinge of history – a generation summoned to the task of redeeming our democracy and restoring our republic – no one ever has to wonder what Bernie Sanders stands for.

The other [advantage] is the movement, with its overwhelming appeal to young voters and its determination to mobilize the disenfranchised and the disenchanted. Movements are more important than candidates and are a greater source of power for change than election results. We live in an age of state repression and voter suppression, when a rigged system, complicit politicians and a depleted and chronically distracted press have allowed the greatest concentration of economic and political power in American history. Yet resistance is always an option. And an imperative. So long as we are many and they are few, hope remains both rational and realistic.

In this election the fundamental question is also the oldest one: Which side are you on? The Nation is on the side of hope, not fear. We’re on the side of radical change, not retrenchment and retreat. We are proud and excited to stand with the movements that have brought us to this moment and made this amazing, terrifying, exhilarating, and empowering campaign possible. And we are proud to endorse Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist with a program realistic and radical enough to meet the test of our time, for president of the United States.

– The Editors
The Nation
March 1, 2020

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was with several hundred others in an overflow area of the Roy Wilkinson Auditorium. Because of this I was quite close to Sen. Bernie Sanders when he came and spoke to us before heading into the actual auditorium, pictured above. This photo, taken by City Pages writer and photographer Mike Madison, shows the Roy Wilkinson Auditorium earlier this evening, packed with supporters of Bernie Sanders. (For more of Mike Madison's photos of tonight's rally, click here.)

Above: Another one of Mike Madison's wonderful photos from tonight's Bernie Sanders event in St. Paul.

This particular image brings to mind something my friend David Weiss shared on Facebook as he was sitting in the Roy Wilkinson Auditorium: “The crowd runs ALL ages and ALL colors. Came to see Bernie. What I am seeing right now is tomorrow’s America.”

NEXT: Progressive Perspectives
on Big Tuesday and Beyond

Related Off-site Links:

Bernie Sanders
On Super Tuesday and Beyond, 10 Reasons to Vote for Bernie Sanders – Christopher D. Cook (Common Dreams, March 3, 2020).
“He’s One of Us”: Sanders Energizing Red-state Progressives – Sean Murphy and Sara Burnett (Associated Press, March 1, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Is the Unity Candidate – Christopher D. Cook (Common Dreams, February 28, 2020).
Bernie’s No Extremist: His Agenda Harks Back to the Framing of the U.S. Constitution – Thomas I. Palley (Salon, February 28, 2020).
Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Endorses Sanders and Warren and Say It Is Time for Biden to Step Down – James Walker (Common Dreams, February 25, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Has Redefined What's Possible in American Politics – Meagan Day and Micah Uetricht (Common Dreams, February 27, 2020).
If Bernie Sanders Is Unelectable, Then What The Hell Are The Rest Of You? – Nick Pemberton (CounterPunch, February 28, 2020).
A Step Away From Fascism and “Toward a Brighter More Just Future”: 100+ Black Writers and Scholars Endorse Bernie Sanders – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, February 29, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Is Three Times More Popular Than Joe Biden Among Young Black Voters, Poll Shows – David Brennan (Newsweek, February 28, 2020).
America Can't Afford Not to Elect Sanders or Warren – Robert Reich (TruthDig, February 25, 2020).
Why Pundits Can't Comprehend Bernie Sanders – Waleed Shahid (BuzzFeed, February 27, 2020).

The Establishment's Efforts to Block Sanders
The Democratic Establishment Is Freaking Out About Bernie. It Should Calm Down – Robert Reich (, February 27, 2020).
Bernie Sanders' Fight Against Trump, the GOP, the Democratic Establishment, and Corporate MediaThe Intercept (February 26, 2020).
Red-Baiting Won’t Stop Bernie Sanders. The Democratic Debate Shows Why – Mindy Isser (In These Times, February 26, 2020).
Crouching Party, Hidden Dagger: Sanders, the DNC and The Brokered Convention – Tim Jones (AIM, February 28, 2020).
Will the Democratic Establishment Destroy the Party to Stop Sanders? – Jeet Heer (The Nation, February 28, 2020).
Did Chris Matthews Reveal That Democratic Establishment's Real Fear Is a Bernie Win? – Jeff Cohen (Common Dreams, March 3, 2020).
“They're Desperate to Beat Bernie”: Amy Klobuchar Drops Out of 2020 Democratic Primary, to Endorse Biden – Eoin Higgins (Common Dreams, March 2, 2020).
Pete Buttigieg Took One for the Anti-Bernie Team – Branko Marcetic (Jacobin, March 2, 2020).

Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson Rips Buttigieg and Klobuchar Over Biden Endorsement: “They Must Have Read The Art of the Deal – Christina Zhao (Newsweek, March 2, 2020).
Marianne Williamson on 2020 Race and Endorsing Senator SandersYahoo! News, March 3, 2020).
Marianne Williamson Calls for Tulsi Gabbard to Participate in Next Democratic Debate – Anthony Leonardi (Washington Examiner, March 7, 2020).

Democratic Socialism
Bernie’s Democratic Socialism Is Firmly Within the American Tradition – Robert McChesney (Jacobin, March 3, 2020).
The Real Global Threat to 21st Century Freedom Is Authoritarian Capitalism Not Democratic Socialism – Peter Bloom (Common Dreams, March 1, 2020).

UPDATES: Biden Wins Minnesota Presidential Primary, In Wake of Klobuchar Endorsement – Brian Bakst (MPR News, March 3, 2020).
Biden Surges on Super Tuesday; California Looms as Big Prize – Steve Peoples and Will Weissert (Associated Press, March 3, 2020).
Super Tuesday: Biden Seals Comeback With String of VictoriesBBC News (March 3, 2020).
The Democratic Establishment Has (Finally) United Against Sanders – Paul Heideman (Jacobin, March 3, 2020).
Sanders Wins California, Super Tuesday’s Biggest Prize – Associated Press via PBS Newshour (March 3, 2020).
Sanders’s California Win Blunts Biden’s Super Tuesday Comeback – Joe Sobczyk and Justin Sink (, March 3, 2020).
Wall Street, Encouraged by Biden’s Wins, Breaks Out Its Checkbooks – Kate Kelly (New York Times, March 4, 2020).
Can Moderate Democrats Sign On to a Progressive President? – Chris Winters (Yes! Magazine, March 4, 2020).
What Super Tuesday Revealed About Black Voters: They're Not a Monolith – Kenya Evelyn (The Guardian, March 5, 2020).
LGBTQ Voters Flock to Bernie Sanders, NBC News Exit Poll Finds – Tim Fitzsimons and Patrick J. Egan (NBC News, March 3, 2020).
Many Young Voters Sat Out Super Tuesday, Contributing to Bernie Sanders' Losses – Ledyard King (USA Today, March 4, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Will Tie Biden in the Final Super Tuesday Results: Why It Looks Good for Sanders – Saib Bilaval (Films for Action, March 4, 2020).

For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
“It's Time to Take a Stand”: Marianne Williamson Endorses Bernie Sanders for President
Quote of the Day – February 23, 2020
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
The Case for Bernie Sanders
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Quote of the Day – February 9, 2020
A Thank You Letter to Marianne Williamson
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics
Quote of the Day – October 19, 2019
Quote(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019

See also:
Carrying It On
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders

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