Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Landscape Is a Mirror

. . . a splendid revealer of things not often seen
with the eyes of everyday life.

Last Wednesday (March 22) was Earth Day, an annual event celebrated around the world to show and encourage support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

To mark Earth Day this year, I spent time after work down by the Mississippi River with my friend Adnan. I'm fortunate to live in a part of south Minneapolis very close to the river. And as you'll see from the images I share in this post, it's a very beautiful area of urban wilderness.

Along with photos taken on Earth Day by the Mississippi, I also include in this post some images from this past Sunday when I visited a friend who lives beside a small lake in Minnetonka. This post's opening image shows reflections of trees in part of this lake.

Speaking of reflections, the title of this post comes from Frank MacEowen's book, The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers, in particular that part in which he talks about the “Way of the Earth” as an essential component of a true spiritual framework, one rooted in a practical embodied spiritualty and which brings people together in the “awareness that we are all bound together in this holy tapestry of living shapes.”

An excerpt from MacEowen's book is also part of this post. This sharing reflects my growing interest in Celtic spirituality (including Celtic Christianity), which I'm discovering shares many characteristics with other indigenous (i.e., Earth-oriented) spiritual traditions from around the world, most foundationally the experience of a deep, abiding, and transforming connection with nature.

The landscape is a mirror. It is a splendid revealer of things not often seen with the eyes of everyday life. When walking out on the land, it is good to invite the “eyes of the seer” and the "eyes of the poet"“eyes of the poet” to be present. These are eyes that see the true shape of things. Poets and seers see things differently. When we relax the literal thinking mind and enter a landscape with more fluid perceptions (a soft gaze), we soon find that we become changed. We are then able to connect with our primal, preliterate selves. This preliterate, or perhaps postliterate, state of consciousness opens us to the Great Mirror of Nature.

The Great Mirror is that striking feature of Creation that soulfully reflects back to us our own soul when we slow our rhythm and our daily pace down long enough to be recipents of its wisdom.

Through the Celtic practice of merging the human soul with the soul of nature and the soul of place, a deep healing occurs. A profoundly sacred education awaits us all. But, as Quaker educator and philosopher Parker Palmer has said, “Education isn't necessarily a learning, but very often an unlearning of false perceptions or a remembering of what we've forgotten.”

The Celtic path of working with the beauty of Creation is one of dialogue. It is not a one-way conversation. This work is about allowing ourselves to become one-third of the sacred dialogue. We open ourselves to the inherent intelligence of the earth, the earth leans toward us in response, and a third thing is created: a true human being.

Those who follow the Celtic mystical paths have always perceived nature as sacred. There is an unspoken understanding that nature acts as a reflective mirror, shining back our own soul's essence and sometimes even prophetic information. The Great Mirror reminds us of our truest self. For this reason any spiritual work with the natural world, whether prayer, pilgrimage, hillwalking, fasting, or purification practices, is an invitation to return to the primal (meaning “original”) essence of who we really are.

Frank MacEowen
(From The Mist-Filled Path, pp. 231-232)

NEXT: Spring Awakens

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thomas Moore on the Circling of Nature as the Best Way to Find Our Substance
In This In-Between Time
Holy Encounters Where Two Worlds Meet
The Mysticism of Trees
Celtic Spirituality: “A Fluid, Transmutable Affair”
The Prayer Tree
Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019: On Sacred Ground
This Holy Trinity
Earth Day 2015
Quote of the Day – September 19, 2014
Earth Day 2013
Time and the River
Somewhere In Between

Related Off-site Link:
Bill McKibben on Earth Day at 50: We Must Stop Subsidizing Fossil Fuel Industry Wrecking the PlanetDemocracy Now! (April 22, 2020).

Images: Michael J. Bayly and Adnan.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Marianne Williamson: “This Is a Time of Transformation”

Author and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson continues, like many at this time, to hunker down at home (or in her case, at a friend's home in Florida) as she sits out the worst of the current coronavirus pandemic.

True to form, Marianne is not just being mindful of her own heart and spirit during this time but also the hearts and spirits of others. This compassionate mindfulness is being manifested in an ongoing series of videos and audios that she's releasing on her various social media platforms on pretty much a daily basis. I haven't tuned into all of them but I did watch last Thursday's video, and its message very much resonated with me. Perhaps it will resonate with you too!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
The Calm Before the Storm
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020
Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases

Following are excerpts from six articles that explore how human destruction of biodiversity contributes to increasing disease threats. This exploration is especially timely and important given the current global coronavirus (or COVID-19) pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an incredible human tragedy. Today an estimated one million people have been infected by the virus, and over 50,000 have died. And, for the foreseeable future, those numbers will be rising sharply.

But this is not the first time a new disease erupted into the human population, causing significant harm. Consider the H1N1 influenza virus, SARS, MERS, Zika virus, Nipah virus, Hantavirus, and Ebola. Or consider the terrible toll of HIV. In fact, during the last few decades, the world has seen many “emerging” and “re-emerging” infectious diseases.

It seems odd that these emerging infectious diseases erupted into the world after the massive improvements in public health of the 20th century, when we saw the biggest gains in life expectancy in human history. The discovery and deployment of antibiotics, the widespread use of vaccinations, increased sanitation, better food and water security, and other medical miracles extended our lives and reduced human suffering. But it also gave us the illusion that infectious diseases were a thing of the past.

But recent decades have shown us that infectious diseases never really left, and they’re back with a vengeance.

Despite what some politicians and pundits are saying, this is not a surprise. Scientists have been ringing the alarm for decades, urging us to be better prepared. Countless reports have warned us during the last thirty years, including numerous pieces by Dr. Anthony Fauci. In the popular literature, Laurie Garrett warned us about this in her New York Times best-selling book, The Coming Plague in 1994. And Dr. Larry Brilliant spoke about this in his TED talk (which has over one billion views) in 2006.

They all warned us that changing environmental conditions were contributing to increasing disease threats. Numerous studies highlighted how infectious diseases could arise from deforestation, habitat and biodiversity loss, wildlife exploitation, the bushmeat and traditional medicine trade, confined animal agriculture, and antibiotic misuse.

Smart leaders knew this was coming. Scientists told them, again and again. And some wise leaders started to prepare. Sadly, others ignored the science, and some recently dismantled key programs needed to combat these threats.

So, here we are.

. . . While other factors can give rise to emerging infectious disease, human activities are a driver of many. In fact, back in 2005, my colleagues and I wrote an article in Science that pointed out that “Habitat modification, road and dam construction, irrigation, increased proximity of people and livestock, and the concentration or expansion of urban environments all modify the transmission of infectious disease and can lead to outbreaks and emergence episodes.”

We knew that the loss of habitats and biodiversity, breaking down natural ecological systems, and increasing contact between dense human populations, wild animal products, and poorly-regulated animal agriculture, was a recipe for disaster.

Many more studies have reinforced these conclusions. In a recent article by John Vidall, he concludes that the continued decline of biodiversity and habitat worldwide could lead to many more incidents like COVID-19.

– Jonathan Foley
Excerpted from “After the Storm
April 2, 2020

The role of biodiversity in disease prevention has received increased attention of late. In a 2015 “state of knowledge review” of biodiversity and human health by the United Nations, scientists wrote that “an ecological approach to disease, rather than a simplistic 'one germ, one disease' approach, will provide a richer understanding of disease-related outcomes.” Recent research has given more support to the idea that biodiversity protection in one part of the world can prevent novel diseases from emerging and leaping into another.

It’s a numbers game, in part. Not all species in a community are equally susceptible to a given disease, nor are they all equally efficient transmitters. In diverse ecosystems well separated from human habitations, viruses ebb and flow without ever having a chance to make it to the big time.

But as people move in, those protections begin to break down. Disrupted ecosystems tend to lose their biggest predators first, and what they leave behind are smaller critters that live fast, reproduce in large numbers, and have immune systems more capable of carrying disease without succumbing to it. When there are only a few species left, they’re good at carrying disease, and they thrive near people, there may be nothing between a deadly pathogen and all of humanity.

– Eric Roston
Excerpted from “Want to Stop the Next Pandemic?
Start Protecting Wildlife Habitats

Bloomberg via TIME
April 8, 2020

COVID-19 is not a separate issue from climate change. It is precisely because humans have so badly damaged the environment and thrown nature out of balance that novel epidemics are happening. COVID-19 is not a one off emergency that we will sort out and be done with. It may be the new normal. Climate change will bring with it cascading catastrophes. We will not be able to manage one before another hits. The only chance we have is to act immediately and on a scale humanity has not done before.

– McAuley Hentges
via Facebook
April 20, 2020

There’s misapprehension among scientists and the public that natural ecosystems are the source of threats to ourselves. It’s a mistake. Nature poses threats, it is true, but it’s human activities that do the real damage. The health risks in a natural environment can be made much worse when we interfere with it. Rodents and some bats thrive when we disrupt natural habitats. They are the most likely to promote transmissions [of pathogens]. The more we disturb the forests and habitats the more danger we are in.

– Richard Ostfeld
Quoted in John Vidal's article, “'Tip of the Iceberg':
Is Our Destruction of Nature Responsible for Covid-19?

The Guardian
March 18, 2020

We must stop talking about everything as it benefits us and start realizing that the reason for this pandemic now is because we have shown so little respect for the natural world, with destroying more and more forest and animal species being pushed together. Viruses spilling over from one species to another, which normally wouldn't [happen]; animals pushed into closer contact with people [farming], for example, another opportunity for spillover of viruses. And then of course, the animal trafficking and export and the number of animals that are being sold in these so-called wet markets in Asia, but also the bushmeat in Africa.

These viruses have been predicted for many years and [were written about] in the book Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen. People haven't listened; they haven't learned from the last SARS epidemic.

The silver lining [of this current pandemic] is that many people for the first time ever have breathed clean air, because with the shutdown of some of the big businesses the air has become cleaner in places like Mumbai and Beijing.

The hope is that enough people will realize what they've been missing, [that there will be] a groundswell of people determined somehow to persuade business and government to do things differently, to have a different mindset. And unfortunately, materialism and big business being what it is, I fear that business will work even more quickly to catch up on all the revenue they've lost, and it's a real conundrum because of business shutdown, commercial things being closed down. People have lost their jobs, and they're suffering.

On the other hand, it's giving a respite to nature. So we have to find a balance, we have to get back to a different way of doing things.

– Jane Goodall
Quoted in Kathleen Rellihan's article, “Jane Goodall Says
Pandemic Is Due to 'Little Respect for the Natural World.'
But There's Hope for This Planet Yet

April 22, 2020

If we fail to understand and take care of the natural world, it can cause a breakdown of [biodiverse] systems and come back to haunt us in ways we know little about. A critical example is a developing model of infectious disease that shows that most epidemics – AIDS, Ebola, West Nile, SARS, Lyme disease and hundreds more that have occurred over the last several decades – don’t just happen. They are a result of things people do to nature.

Disease, it turns out, is largely an environmental issue. Sixty percent of emerging infectious diseases that affect humans are zoonotic – they originate in animals. And more than two-thirds of those originate in wildlife.

We destroy them and they gift us self-destruction keys.

– Jim Robbins
Excerpted from “The Ecology of Disease
The New York Times
July 15, 2012

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Without “Transformative Change” to Global Economic Systems, Humans Risk Causing More Deadly Pandemics – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, April 27, 2020).
Amid Dual Crises of Climate and Covid-19, World Leaders Told “Empty Words Will Not Help Us” – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, April 28, 2020).
She Predicted the Coronavirus. What Does She Foresee Next? – Frank Bruni (The New York Times via Yahoo! News, May 4, 2020).
The Indigenous Communities That Predicted Covid-19 – Rachel Nuwer (BBC Travel, May 4, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
The Calm Before the Storm
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
Something to Think About – February 10, 2020
Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020
Something to Think About – April 22, 2020

Image: Photographer unknown.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Morning Light

Image: “Adnan in Morning Light” by Michael J. Bayly.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Something to Think About . . .

Related Off-site Links:
Powerful Photos Show Healthcare Workers Quietly Standing Up to Lockdown Protesters in Denver – James Pasley (Insider, April 20, 2020).
The Right-wing Groups Behind the Wave of Protests Against Covid-19 Restrictions – Jason Wilson (The Guardian, April 17, 2020).
The Lockdown Is Tough. Ending It Too Soon Would Be Worse – Noah Smith (Bloomberg, April 16, 2020).
Trump Calls to “Liberate” States Where Protesters Have Demanded Easing Coronavirus Lockdowns – John Fritze and David Jackson (USA Today via Yahoo! News, April 17, 2020).
Pro-Trump Protesters Push Back on Stay-at-Home Orders – Sarah Rankin, Sean Murphy, David Eggert and Scott Bauer (Associated Press via PBS Newshour, April 17, 2020).
In Trump's “Liberate” Tweets, Extremists See a Call to Arms – Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny (NBC News, April 17, 2020).
“Liberate Minnesota” Didn’t Liberate Anything – David Weiss (Full Frontal Faith, April 18, 2020).
White People Have Been HOME for 3 Weeks – “Oh, the Oppression” – Hannah Drake (WriteSomeShit.com, April 15, 2020).
Christ the Redeemer Statue Lit Up as Doctor to Honor Frontline Medical Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic – Caitlin O'Kane (CBS News, April 13, 2020).
How America Built the Best Pandemic Response System in History – and Threw It Away – Will Dunn (New Statesman, March 24, 2020).

UPDATES: “That's the One There”: How a Photo of a Protesting Nurse in Phoenix Went Viral – Richard Ruelas (Arizona Republic, April 24, 2020).
To the People Protesting Stay-At-Home Orders: How Dare You – Kristine Koser (Yahoo! Life, April 24, 2020).
Coronavirus Cases Are Spiking in Places Where Trump Supporters Protested Stay-At-Home Orders – Sean Colarossi (PoliticusUSA, April 25, 2020).
Hospital Workers Like Me Are Waging a War Against Coronavirus. Where Is Our GI Bill? – Elizabeth May (The Intercept, April 23, 2020).
Coronavirus Has Now Killed More Americans Than Vietnam War – David Welna (NPR News, April 28, 2020).
Georgia Has Hundreds Of New COVID-19 Cases After Reopening On Friday – Moná Thomas (Narcity, April 28, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
The Calm Before the Storm
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020

Monday, April 20, 2020

Keeper of the Fire

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Balancing the Fire
In This In-Between Time
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That “Human-Being Magic”
Keeping the Spark Alive
O Dancer of Creation

Image: “Deandre, Keeper of the Fire” by Michael J. Bayly.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Nine Years On, a Poignant Farewell to Sarah Jane

Well, the following brought a tear to my eye. It's a 13-minute video marking today's 9th anniversary of the passing of Elisabeth Sladen.

In the 1970s, Sladen appeared in the popular British sci-fi TV show Doctor Who, playing the Doctor’s time and space traveling companion Sarah Jane Smith. Decades later, Sladen would have her own successful TV series, The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-2011), though it was sadly cut short by her death from cancer.

Above: Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith in the
"classic" Doctor Who story, The Hand of Fear (1976).

In the video released today, one scripted by Russell T Davies and narrated by Jacob Dudman, Sarah Jane’s closest friends come together to say farewell.

There's just so much I appreciate about this creative endeavor. First and foremost, it's clearly a labor of love by all involved; that's so clearly evident.

I also appreciate how Sarah Jane's son Luke (Tommy Knight) comes out as gay. You know, there were plans for this to happen in The Sarah Jane Adventures, but Sladen's sudden death prevented it. I'm glad it's been revealed now, and in such a touching way by Luke himself. The testimonies by Clyde (Daniel Anthony) and Rani (Anjli Mohindra) are also incredibly moving.

And of course, it's great to see from the "classic" Doctor Who era characters such as Jo Jones, née Grant (Katy Manning) and Ace (Sophie Aldred), and to hear so many others being mentioned – Tegan and Nyssa (seemingly a lesbian couple now), Ben and Polly, Ian and Barbara, Dodo, Dr. Grace Holloway, Liz Shaw, Victoria, and K-9.

In addition, a number of characters are mentioned from both the relaunched Doctor Who series (Captain Jack Harkness; the Brigadier's daughter, Kate; and Martha and Mickey, now married with a son, August) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (Maria and her dad, Alan; and Sky. Also, Rani's mum Gita makes an appearance and, like her daughter, delivers a moving testimony).

The video also resolves the long-standing uncertainty of what happened to Sarah Jane Smith in the world of Doctor Who. We now know that the character of Sarah Jane died alongside the woman who had so magically brought her to life.

Russell T Davies' Sarah Jane Adventures
Farewell Story Is the Perfect Send-off

By Dan Seddon

Digital Spy
April 19, 2020

Russell T Davies' specially-written farewell to The Sarah Jane Adventures debuted online today (April 19).

Now available on the Doctor Who YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, this short-but-touching episode featured a number of the original cast in phone-captured scenes as they hunkered down during the global health crisis.

Edited into a 13-minute, 32-second piece, it was a perfect send-off for the late Elisabeth Sladen, who played the show's titular character until her death nine years ago.

Narrated by The Stranger's Jacob Dudman, the episode depicted a wonderful funeral for Sarah Jane Smith, with a carnival of Doctor Who universe characters making cameos such as Captain Jack Harkness, Luke Smith, Rani Chandra and Sky Smith "who manifested briefly in her human form".

Tall tales, laughter and "a sense of huge joy" dominated the scene, while a number of faces agreed to meet up every year and adopt the moniker 'The Family Smith.'

Actress Katy Manning made a physical appearance as Jo Jones, alongside Dorothy McShane [Ace] and Clyde Langer, before the house on Bannerman Road was later revisited.

Rani closed out the episode by confessing she believed Sarah was still out there somewhere, traversing the stars with The Doctor on one final adventure.

Above: The cast of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
From left: Daniel Anthony (Clyde Langer), Rani Chandra (Anjli Mohindra),
Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), and Thomas Knight
(Sarah Jane's adopted son Luke).

Doctor Who Fans Honor Elisabeth Sladen
After Release of Farewell, Sarah Jane

By Jeremy Fuster

The Wrap
April 19, 2020

It has been nine years since Elisabeth Sladen, known to millions of Doctor Who fans as Sarah Jane Smith, passed away. Now, Whovians finally have a chance to say goodbye as former Who showrunner Russell T. Davies released a 15-minute audio epilogue for The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off series that featured the beloved TARDIS companion.

Narrated by Jacob Dudman, who has played the Doctor in several audio dramas, the epilogue reveals that Sarah Jane had died alongside Sladen. All of her friends from Bannerman Road are there at her funeral, including Clyde Langer, Rani Chandra, and her adopted son Luke. Her funeral is also attended by two fellow companions of the Doctor, Jo Grant and Ace, played once again by Katy Manning and Sophie Aldred.

Tommy, Clyde and Rani were all allies of Sarah Jane in her fight to protect Britain and Earth from evil forces while the Doctor was off traveling through time and space. They joined the Whoniverse when The Sarah Jane Adventures launched on CBBC in response to overwhelming praise to Sladen’s return to Doctor Who for the first time in 23 years. Once an investigative journalist whose reporting led her to cross paths with the Doctor in the 1970s, Smith had become a formidable planetary defender in her own right with the help of an extraterrestrial computer, Mr. Smith, and the former robot companion of the Doctor, K-9.

The Sarah Jane Adventures lasted for five seasons and saw special cameos from Doctor Who leads David Tennant and Matt Smith during its run. Sadly, Sladen’s death in 2011 caused the show’s fifth season to be cut unceremoniously short.

With all of Britain on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, Davies took the extra time to write a proper send-off to Sarah Jane and the woman who played her.

“Sarah Jane is the one that told me that Sanjay was looking at me . . . in that way,” Luke says. “And she’s the one who told me to go and talk to him. And now we’ve been married for five years. That’s the greatest gift she ever gave me.”

Related Off-site Link:
The Sarah Jane Adventures: A Fitting Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen – Stephen Kelly (The Guardian, October 3, 2011).

For more on Elisabeth Sladen and Sarah Jane Smith at The Wild Reed, see:
Blast from the Past: Sarah Jane Smith Returns to Doctor Who
What Sarah Jane Did Next
She’s So Lovely
Impossible! . . . It Can’t Be!
She’s Back!
Too Good to Miss
The Adventures Continue
Remembering Elisabeth Sladen
Quote of the Day – April 20, 2011
Mourning Lis, Farewelling Sarah Jane
As Doctor Who Celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Sarah Jane Smith is Voted #1 Favorite Companion

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Quote of the Day

We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.

Sonya Renee Taylor
Quoted in Vicki Davis' article,
COVID-19 Has Shown Us How We Internalized Capitalism
April 13, 2020

Related Off-site Links:
Why Coronavirus Is Humanity's Wake-Up Call – David Korten (Yes! March 18, 2020).
Love and Nonviolence in the Time of Coronavirus – Ken Butigan (Common Dreams, March 17, 2020).
Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting* – Julio Vincent Gambuto (Forge, April 10, 2020).
The Coronavirus Pandemic Demonstrates the Failures of Capitalism – Kandist Mallett (Teen Vogue, March 24, 2020).
The Future Socialists Want, And Centrists Fear – Joel Bleifuss (In These Times, March 23, 2020).
The Pandemic Is a Portal – Arundhati Roy (Dnyuz, April 4, 2020).
That Discomfort You're Feeling Is Grief – Scott Berinato (Harvard Business Review, March 23, 2020).
Social Movements in Times of Pandemic: Another World Is Needed – Donatella della Porta (OpenDemocracy.net via Common Dreams, March 23, 2020).
Bernie Sanders: Coronavirus Reminds Us Why We Must Guarantee Health Care to All – Tim Hains (Real Clear Politics, March 27, 2020).
In the Midst of Converging Crises, the Green New Deal Is the Answer – Avi Lewis (The Globe and Mail, March 15, 2020).
A Pandemic in Retrospect – Looking Back on the Coronavirus From 2050 – Hazel Henderson and Fritjof Capra (Common Dreams, March 19, 2020).
“The Body Is Not an Apology”: Sonya Renee Taylor Is Leading a Revolution of Radical Self-Love – Maiysha Kai (The Root, March 26, 2020).
10 Revolutionary Activists You Should Know About This Black History Month – Jada Jackson (Rewire News, February 25, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
The Calm Before the Storm
In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience

Image: Photographer unknown.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Remembering and Celebrating Dusty

Today is the 81st anniversary of the birth of the late, great British pop/soul vocalist Dusty Springfield (1939-1999).

Dusty's been in the news lately as her landmark 1969 album, Dusty in Memphis is one of this year's selections for inclusion in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in the U.S. (For The Sounds of America's recent 20-minute audio documentary on Dusty in Memphis, click here.)

My interest in and admiration for Dusty is well documented here at The Wild Reed, most notably in Soul Deep, one of my very first posts.

Other previous posts worth investigating, especially if you're new to Dusty, are Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon, which features an excerpt from Laurence Cole's book, Dusty Springfield: In the Middle of Nowhere; Celebrating Dusty (2017), which features an excerpt from Patricia Juliana Smith's insightful article on Dusty's “camp masquerades”; Celebrating Dusty (2013), which features excerpts from Annie J. Randall's book, Dusty!: Queen of the Postmods; Remembering Dusty, my 2009 tribute to Dusty on the tenth anniversary of Dusty's death; and Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On, my tribute last year on the twentieth anniversary of her death.

And, of course, off-site there's my website dedicated to Dusty, Woman of Repute (currently only accessible through the Internet archive service, The Way Back Machine).

My website's name is derived from Dusty's 1990 album Reputation, and as I explain in Soul Deep, it was this album that introduced me not only to Dusty's music but also to her life and journey – much of which resonated deeply with me. Indeed, my identification with aspects of Dusty's journey played an important role in my coming out as a gay man.

Above: Dusty, "amidst the flowing streams, standing stones and picturesque Celtic ruins of County Clare and the Galway coast" for the making of the music video for "Roll Away," a track from her last album, 1995's A Very Fine Love. The liner notes of the 2016 2-disc expanded collector's edition of A Very Fine Love include my reflections on this beautiful song, reflections which are also shared in the previous Wild Reed post, Time and the River.

In honor of today's 81th anniversary of Dusty's birth, I share the audio recording of Dusty singing Chip Taylor's "Angel of the Morning," from the fifth episode of her BBC television series Decidedly Dusty (originally broadcast October 7, 1969). This audio has been beautifully combined with a video montage of Dusty images by Francis Bacon. After this video is a series of quotes about Dusty, many of which I first shared on the introduction page of Woman of Repute.


Maybe it's the sultriness. The urgency in the gentlest whisper, the subtlety in her boldest proclamations of love, loss, heartache, and ascendancy. Maybe it's the way she can capture both the ecstasy of the afterglow and the despair of a breakup's aftershock. But there is something about Dusty Springfield that makes her contribution to pop music - hell, to life - particular, peerless. There are plenty of divas, plenty of blue-eyed soul sisters, but there is only one Dusty, and when I think about it there is no other singer who reaches me in so many ways so deeply as Dusty. . . . While remaining incredibly true to her own sensibility and spirit, no other singer has as effortlessly proven that soul is not a matter of color or nationality but of feeling. Dusty knows not just the look of love but also its essence.

Barry Walters
American writer

The way she looked was easy to impersonate -
the panda eyes and the bouffant hair.
But the voice was impossible to imitate.
Dusty was the perfect pop singer.

Petula Clark
Legendary British vocalist

Being the first British artist to chase The Beatles up the U.S. charts, Dusty used her celebrity to champion the cause of soul music in England, bringing over Motown acts [including Martha and the Vandellas] before anyone had heard of them and featuring them on her TV specials. Her affinity with blacks didn't stop with their music. In 1964, she was deported from South Africa after refusing to perform for segregated audiences, long before apartheid was a cause celebre. "I wasn't making any major statements," she told the British press. "I just thought it was morally the right thing to do." If that isn't textbook soul, it ought to be.

Serene Dominic
American music critic

Above: Dusty with Ike and Tina Turner on Ready Steady Go! – October 14, 1966. The three performed "Land of a Thousand Dances."

She didn't write the songs, and if you had never heard her sing, you could argue Dusty was a '60s version of the non-writing, so-called divas of today, the Celine Dions, Mariah Careys, et al. But the difference is that she was an interpreter, not just someone who hit the right notes. Like Sinatra, she didn't write the songs but she sounded as if she had lived them.

– Bernard Zuel
Australian music critic

[Dusty's voice] stirred up strange feelings and mysterious longings, unearthing anything you thought was buried for good. It was the voice of experience. . . . [She] refused to indulge in anything as ordinary as excess. Her voice could sound as big as a hurricane, but the British pop icon never blew a tune away just because she could. She used her power sparingly, unleashing the gospel diva within only when necessary. She treated the songs she recorded like scripts, and she negotiated their emotional peaks and valleys like an Oscar-winning Sherpa. No wonder songwriters loved her. . . . Whether she was holding back ot letting her big voice fly, Dusty Springfield sang like a woman whose interior life was as rich as the melodramas she played out on vinyl. She sang with intelligence and intuition. She gave the songs room to breathe, but she always made them her own.

Karla Peterson
American music critic

Dusty Springfield's voice wafts through her recordings like smoke, spiraling into shadowy plumes, echoing in a sexy mist. Listening to her records, you can never quite locate the center of her voice. She seems to be everywhere and nowhere in the song, permeating the pianos, vibrating between violin strings. It's a bewitching mix of messages her voice exudes, expressing both power in its barreling range and vulnerability in its airy tone. Match a sound that engrossing to top-rank material, brilliantly ornamental arrangements, and a singer decked out like a Christmas tree, and you've got a certified legend on your hands . . . Dusty's authority comes through in more than just her honed persona. It also rings through the command of her voice. What other singer could combine the power of Barbra Streisand, the grace of Julie London and the soul of Martha Reeves? That Dusty can explains why her songs will always appeal to anyone who ever had a heart.

Jim Farber
British music critic

Most of the queer boy bands of contemporary rock music, as well as such androgynous or sexually ambiguous women performers as Annie Lennox, Allison Moyet, Chrissie Hynde, and even Madonna, demonstrate the musical, visual or aesthetic influence of Dusty Springfield, one of the first women in rock who dared to 'strike a pose.'

– Patricia Juliana Smith
Author and editor of The Queer Sixties

She's unique, alien, an enigmatic amalgamation
of black soul and Brit melodrama,
private passions and popular myth,
fantasy and reality.

Who was Dusty?
Did she ever really exist?
What did it all mean?
Now all we have is the music.
Just listen to the music.

– Christian Ward
British music critic/writer

For more of Dusty at The Wild Reed, see:
Soul Deep
Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon
Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On
Remembering and Celebrating Dusty (2019)
Remembering Dusty (2018)
Celebrating Dusty (2017)
Celebrating Dusty (2013)
Remembering Dusty (2009)
Remembering Dusty – 14 Years On
Remembering Dusty – 11 Years On
The Other "Born This Way"
Time and the River
Remembering a Great Soul Singer
A Song and Challenge for 2012
The Sound of Two Decades Colliding

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Quote of the Day

Stimulus checks dropped today. Can't say I'm complaining. But hailing piecemeal socialism from a fascist administration after Bernie Sanders is rejected as too radical for the country is the biggest mindfuck I've experienced in awhile. 🌹

Phillip Clark
via Facebook
April 15, 2020

Related Off-site Links:
Stimulus Checks Are Depositing: Here’s How People Are Spending the Money – Lance Lambert (Fortune, April 15, 2020).
“Disgusting”: Treasury Slows Delivery of 70 Million Covid-19 Stimulus Checks to Put Trump's Name on Them – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, April 15, 2020).
Nancy Pelosi Calls Trump's Name Appearing on Stimulus Checks “Shameful” – Clare Foran (CNN News, April 15, 2020).
The Working Class, Socialism and the Fight Against the Pandemic – David North (World Socialist Web Site, April 1, 2020).

UPDATE: Small Business Rescue Loan Program Hits $349 Billion Limit and Is Now Out of Money – Thomas Franck and Kate Rogers (CNBC News, April 16, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders' Suspension of His Presidential Campaign
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Quote of the Day – June 12, 2019
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Quote of the Day – August 17, 2011
A Socialist Response to the 2008 Financial Crisis
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19

Image: Kristen Solberg.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders' Suspension of His Presidential Campaign

Last Wednesday, April 8, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign.

This news saddened me as, in my view, Bernie Sanders was the most prominent candidate to actually recognize and address the systemic problems threatening our society, our democracy, and the environment.

We’re left now with a candidate (and likely nominee, barring some unforeseen circumstance) whose record demonstrates entrenchment in the current political/economic system, a system that in many ways has brought us to where we are today. Personally, I have zero enthusiasm for Joe Biden, and seriously doubt he will prevail over Donald Trump in November. If he does, I’ll celebrate for an exact split-second because I know the real problem is and never was Trump but rather our corrupt political and economic system. Trump is a symptom of this problem, not the problem itself. In Bernie we had someone who would not only have eradicated the symptom, but was willing to get to the root problem and begin the type of fundamental healing required for sustained flourishing. This, in turn, would have gone a long way in preventing the type of “symptom” represented by Trump and his neo-fascist agenda from returning.

I doubt, though, that this problem/system is going to be significantly altered under Biden. He has said as much. It's a system that's profoundly dysfunctional for the majority of people, and those who, like Biden, have actively worked to create and maintain this dysfunction are rarely predisposed, incentivized, or equipped to correct it in any meaningful way. I hope I'm wrong. I hope Biden will reach out to Bernie and other progressive figures, such as Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Marianne Williamson and Robert Reich, for insight, advice, and guidance. I also hope they reach out to him. My sense at this time, however, is that our work as progressives to enact genuine progressive change is going to begin the day Biden is declared president-elect, if that is what eventuates.

Following is a compilation of excerpts from recent commentaries about Bernie's suspension of his campaign. This compilation includes the insights and perspectives of Marianne Williamson, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, John Nichols, Astra Taylor, David Benec, Osita Nwanevu and others. These progressive perspectives are accompanied by “The Struggle Continues,” a 3-minute video released last Wednesday by the Bernie 2020 campaign.

I should say that the writer whose words resonate with me most at this point is Jedediah Britton-Purdy. Why? Because as a long-time and passionate supporter of Bernie's platform, I've had to contend with a lot of tut-tutting from some liberal friends about what they perceive as Bernie's “style.” By this they mean his at times “angry” manner and his “us-versus-them” politics. It astounds me to this day that people who identify as liberal or progressive allow themselves to fixate on such things at the expense of highlighting and supporting the substantive and much-needed progressive policies that Bernie has long championed and which the majority of the electorate increasingly support. Britton-Purdy offers a helpful response to these types of charges against Bernie's “style.” And for that I'm very grateful.

There was anger, but it was most often the anger of people who have realized that their medical bankruptcy, their workplace abuse, their uninsured illness, didn’t have to be that way. It was the anger that comes when shame turns to determination and solidarity, as happened again and again when Sanders opened his rallies to unscripted, unplanned testimony from people who narrated their suffering.

There was “us-versus-them” politics, but one of the lessons of Sanders’s campaign is that politics does not begin in consensus-seeking. It begins in determining where you want a common life to go, which implies knowing who is standing in the way. Denunciations of “the billionaire class” and “a racist criminal justice system” are not mellifluous, but democracy and justice don’t start in pretending that everything is fine and we are all on board. Criticizing the Sanders campaign for being intemperate evinced at best a naivete about politics, at worst a kind of class bias that prizes soft-toned niceness over the often-invisible lives that this country desolates.

Thank you, Jedediah.

And thank you, Bernie.

Deepest gratitude, Bernie. You articulated a vision for a much better America and we'll keep working to make it happen. For those who've supported you, it will take a few days to process this. But we'll rise up with passion and renewed dedication, always with your name on our hearts.

Marianne Williamson
via Twitter
April 8, 2020

Today, I was saddened to learn that Bernie Sanders brought his presidential campaign to a close. My dismay is not over the end of the campaign, but much deeper. Senator Sanders was the only candidate capable of dealing with the scope of our current problems. No other candidate connected the issues of health, environment, wages, democracy, equality, and citizenship together with proposals to truly improve the lives and the future of every person on Earth. Our desperate need for the Senator's vision is increasingly blatant as we struggle with #COVID19 and the inequalities our responses are exposing.

This struggle for a better society inspired a tremendous movement. The campaign received over 10 million individual donations at an average of $18. In every contest, the campaign notched clear victories among voters under the age of 50 in every demographic group. What those numbers mean will be hotly debated for many years. My belief is that this illustrates a divide that puts our nation and our lives at risk. As long as those who suffer the most from inequalities created by those in power, remain locked out of the democratic process, we will slip further into inequality and put more of our neighbors' lives at risk.

This is a tough moment that shows the strength of those who fight against popular reform. This is not the end. Grassroots action is cumulative. Every step forward makes the next step possible. To cross the finish line, we have to continue the fight for every small step, and never give ground. Fight for someone you don't know and build the movement by lifting up the voices of those around.

David Benac
via Facebook
April 8, 2020

Thank you, Bernie, for igniting and leading an everlasting movement of solidarity with the working class and promoting a radical policy agenda advancing the collective wellbeing of people over corporate profits. We are forever grateful for your prophetically zealous – often solitary – anger exercised to safeguard working people’s dignity, affirm healthcare and access to higher education as human rights, challenge the exploitative oppression of capitalism, deride a foreign policy that perpetuates death and colonialism, and definitively confront the devastating implications of climate change for our planet.

Voters did not advance this agenda. However, an entire generation remains invigorated and strengthened by the incontrovertible fact that socialism is now welcomed as a viable political reality – not a delusion, fantasy, or blasphemous threat to the American way of life. Political dissent is celebrated as an extension of patriotism, rather than a negation of national pride. The revolutionary strength of Bernie’s campaign remains its nature as a grassroots movement that derives veracity by building political power with poor and working people – voices most often ignored in City Hall, Annapolis, and Washington D.C.

There will be ample time to assess the myriad flaws of Bernie’s campaign. Doing so is imperative to building a meaningful socialist movement in the United States. Tonight, we mourn the lost opportunity to face the living embodiment of white supremacy and unbridled capitalist individualism with a towering, compassionate vision of collective human possibility and global solidarity.

#NotMeUs isn't just a slogan but a stirring call to action that should rouse our spirits and transcend the hopes placed on any one person. May our tears water our dreams for a better world.

Phillip Clark
via Facebook
April 8, 2020

I would like to express my huge gratitude to Bernie Sanders, to his entire family, and to the many people who worked for the campaign just so tirelessly and opened up the window of what was possible politically in this country. It was an incredibly tough campaign. And I trust that Bernie is making the right decision in this moment as the leader of that campaign and also as a U.S. senator. I know that he’s not going to just go relax. . . . He intends to fight for people, as he has always done, in this critical moment, in terms of what kind of relief, rescue, and reimagining that we do in the midst of this pandemic. He is staying on the ballot. He is still building power in order to pressure the Democratic Party and Joe Biden to run the most progressive campaign that they can. So, you know, I feel so much gratitude for Senator Sanders.

More than anything else, I think what the campaign did is help us find each other. And by “us,” I mean that huge “us” of the “Not me. Us.” campaign [slogan]. And he did this not just in this campaign, but in 2016, where he really broke the spell of the Reagan era; that spell that has lasted for four decades [and] that told people that this system that was funneling so much wealth upwards and spreading insecurity, precariousness, poverty and pollution for everybody else. . . . What the neoliberal era told us was that we were the ones who were crazy, we were a tiny minority of fringe people, and that we should just accept it. And what the Sanders campaign did in 2016 is tell us that we had been lied to, that, in fact, there were so many millions of us who saw that this world was fundamentally upside down. And all of the incredible organizing, including digital organizing but also in-person organizing, wove this amazing web, and we were able to find each other and find that we were many and they were few. And so, I don’t think we can ever thank Bernie Sanders and the campaign enough for that.

. . . The fact is, there is power right now, and [it's] from the working people who are holding [not only] this country together, but the world together – the healthcare workers, the janitors, the caretakers, the delivery workers, the people who are picking our food, under very unsafe conditions. And we are seeing a wave of job action from these workers, who understand themselves to be so essential despite decades of having their labor belittled by those in power. And that was one of the great strengths of the Sanders campaign, that he always recognized the power of those essential workers. It’s why he was supported overwhelmingly by Amazon workers, by grocery store workers and, of course, by nurses and by teachers. And so, this is a time for us to be organizing and taking leadership from those workers.

I have to say that one of my great, great regrets from having been involved in this campaign is watching my friends in the progressive movement who didn’t support [him], in part because they weren’t able to take leadership from working people who recognized Sanders as their champion from the very beginning, and they felt that those workers didn’t understand their own best interests, and so they wanted them to support somebody else. And this is a moment where if we say that we have so much gratitude for these frontline workers, let’s trust them politically, too, and let’s do everything we can to augment their political power. Let’s demand that of our trade unions. Let’s demand that of ourselves. Let’s support them tangibly. But let’s also take leadership from them, which is something that Bernie Sanders always did, and it is one of the things that I love most about him.

When Bernie Sanders began his first presidential run in 2015, he announced his campaign to little fanfare, on a patch of grass outside the Capitol. “This country today, in my view, has more serious crises than any time since the Great Depression,” Sanders said to a small group of reporters. Back then, his campaign was written off as a long shot by a gruff independent from Vermont who might, at most, push Hillary Cilnton left on a few issues.

Today, Sanders suspended his second presidential campaign after a primary season that always favored Joe Biden, but saw, for a brief moment, a socialist Jewish candidate as the frontrunner. “Few would deny that over the past five years, our movement has won the ideological struggle,” Sanders said during a farewell address to his supporters, made via a livestream from his home in Burlington, Vermont. He explained that he was dropping out because his campaign didn’t have a clear path to victory.

Only five years have passed between those two moments, yet it would be hard to deny how much not only the Democratic Party, but the country as a whole has changed in that time because of Sanders. After stubbornly warning the political and media elite again and again about how the system is failing average people, Sanders is now speaking in isolation as a pandemic ravages our world. Even the idea of reporters gathered around him, outside on a DC lawn, already seems like a relic from a different era.

But, as Sanders pointed out, our country was going through a crisis long before coronavirus hit. This is true on the macro level – rising sea levels, crushing student debt, unaffordable health care, massive incarceration rates – but the Sanders’ campaign’s strength was always in showing the ways this translated into personal crises in peoples’ daily lives. As BuzzFeed reported in December, Sanders’ strategy was often just to turn the microphone over to everyday Americans. “His suggestion, by asking you to speak up about your private anxieties, many of them financial, is that you and the millions of people in the proverbial audience will begin to see your struggles not as personal failings, but systemic ones,” reporter Ruby Cramer wrote.

Sanders’ message has changed the country in tangible ways. A bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 passed the House, and a majority of voters now support Medicare for All, things that would have seemed unfathomable five years ago. A wave of progressive candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, who entered the House after the 2018 midterms, were inspired to run in part by Sanders, and were elected on campaigns to abolish ICE and cancel student debt. The 2020 Democratic primary started with many of his most progressive policies in full view, proof that he had pushed the party’s agenda left. In the wake of Sanders’ 2016 campaign and Donald Trump’s election, young activists created a slew of new organizations, while once-small groups like the Democratic Socialists of America gained in prominence. One new organization, the Sunrise Movement, helped push climate change closer to the center of political debate than ever before.

Yet his loss also shows how far there is still to go. Sanders and his campaign were far from perfect. The ideological change that he brought to the national stage has, for a number of reasons both internal and external, not translated electorally. There will be post-mortems and recriminations, and the good faith ones will be necessary.

Clio Chang
Excerpted from “Bernie Sanders Changed America
April 8, 2020

Democracy means that people choose how we will live together, rather than accept the hierarchies and boundaries we are born into as fate. It means making that shared choice in a way that honors everyone’s equal value and tries to give each person equal political power. By that simple standard, the United States is not much of a democracy. In 2016 and 2020, one campaign tried to make democracy more real, and in doing so became a movement and a generational watershed for people who have come to understand how an unequal and undemocratic country is killing them and laying waste to what they love. Such a thing doesn’t end when a campaign stops, but what it becomes is uncertain.

Bernie Sanders’s departure from a Democratic primary race that is shuddering from the impact of COVID-19 marks the end, for the moment, of the greatest wave of social-democratic energy and socialist imagination in the United States for about a century. It comes, too, just as events are once again vindicating his calls for universal health care, economic security, and worker power, as a pandemic tears through the communities of the most vulnerable, precarious, and powerless Americans.

It was astonishing to hear the Sanders campaign described, as it routinely was in the mainstream press, as angry, bellicose, even a Trumpism for the Left. To be anywhere near the campaign – to know any of the people going door to door and making regular small donations – was to understand that it was idealistic in spirit, hopeful in tone, generous in its sense of possibility. It modeled what you might call patriotism for adults, disillusioned patriotism without exceptionalist bullshit.

Sanders talked about the United States as a normal country with terrible problems, where people exploit one another, fear of poverty and illness stalk seemingly stable lives, and mass incarceration undercuts freedom and democracy. But his campaign made sense only if you also believed that the United States remained a place decent in possibility, not because of some providential promise, not because of the Declaration of Independence or Abraham Lincoln, but because democratic majorities have the power to change their shared lives. It is hard to imagine an attitude more patriotic (as distinct from nationalist) than believing that your fellow citizens can hear the truth about their country and then vote for fundamental change.

There was anger, but it was most often the anger of people who have realized that their medical bankruptcy, their workplace abuse, their uninsured illness, didn’t have to be that way. It was the anger that comes when shame turns to determination and solidarity, as happened again and again when Sanders opened his rallies to unscripted, unplanned testimony from people who narrated their suffering.

There was “us-versus-them” politics, but one of the lessons of Sanders’s campaign is that politics does not begin in consensus-seeking. It begins in determining where you want a common life to go, which implies knowing who is standing in the way. Denunciations of “the billionaire class” and “a racist criminal justice system” are not mellifluous, but democracy and justice don’t start in pretending that everything is fine and we are all on board. Criticizing the Sanders campaign for being intemperate evinced at best a naivete about politics, at worst a kind of class bias that prizes soft-toned niceness over the often-invisible lives that this country desolates.

Champagne corks will be popping in the Trump Empire, for good reason. Whatever happens come November, the exit of Senator Bernie Sanders from the US presidential race will be a relief. The fractured republic can be reassured that the Democrats have not moved on, stuck, as it were, in the glades of vengeful melancholia and supposedly safe bets. Divisions will not be healed; suspicions will continue to foster. A bitter society, ravished by pandemic, will cast an eye to incumbency.

On Wednesday, Sanders delivered the news to his supporters. “If I believed we had a feasible path to the nomination, I would certainly continue.” The decision to end his campaign had been “very difficult and painful” but it had “transformed American consciousness as to what kind of nation we can become and have taken this country a major step in the never-ending struggle for economic justice, social justice, racial justice and environmental justice.” It was the appeal to ideas that mattered, and the continuation of the movement he had inspired.

With each Democratic candidate being culled from the initial smorgasbord, and the machinery of the Democratic National Committee doing its usual bit of mischief, the chances for Sanders netting the nomination were always slim. He started well in New Hampshire; roared to victory in Nevada. Then came defeat in South Carolina, where the black vote eluded him. Joe Biden’s victories on Super Tuesday in 10 of 14 states was crushing. A week after, and failing to convince Michigan Democrats, he had a sobering admission to make. While he consistently did well in claiming the votes of the young and making inroads among Latinos, he was “losing the debate over electability.” The restrictions placed on the campaign by COVID-19 sealed matters.

The honours for the Democratic presidential nomination, however that will be finalised, fall to Joe Biden, who has distinguished himself in crisis by largely absenting himself. The enfeebled Biden is already weighed down by a resume thickened by allegations of wandering hands (dismissed by Biden supporters as “politically motivated” or “pro-Putin”), patchy choices on matters touching on race and foreign policy, and an evident slide into cognitive decline. The campaign strategy, one seriously chewed over since mid-last year, is simple: manufactured silence and minimised presence. Doing so minimises room for imbecilic error and any needless expenditure of energy. So far, and with stunning effect, it has worked, aided by that trusty steed, circumstance.

. . . [T]he departure of Sanders leaves his followers talking about a movement beyond the man. Feel the Bern was more than just an emotional binge, cresting on a body of ideas packed with social justice and equality. “It’s common now to say the Sanders campaign failed,” observed Noam Chomsky on Democracy Now Radio. “I think that’s a mistake. I think it was an extraordinary success, completely shifting the arena of debate and discussion.” True, to a point. But as with 2016, that discussion is something that has passed the Establishment fogeys by. “In the end,” as Andrew Marantz penned in the New Yorker, “he did change the culture of America, but not quickly enough.”

Binoy Kampmark
Excerpted from “A Victory for the Fogeys:
Bernie Sanders Drops Out

The Aim
April 8, 2020

This is a sad ending to a primary season that began with a diversity of candidates and a range of fresh, progressive ideas that I found hopeful and exciting. It is ending with a public mood much more obsessed with survival and normalcy than deep, structural change.

I certainly support Joe Biden, especially considering the alternative. I hope that he will draw on the ideas and gifts of his former opponents. The primaries have established that when it comes to forming a government the Democrats have a deep bench. I am worried, however, that Biden is too beholden to corporate interests to address climate change with the level of economic reform necessary to save the environment. COVID-19 is a symptom of environmental stress. If we do not act now, we can expect this level of emergency and worse to become the new normal.

Biden has to win. And then we all have to push the Biden administration beyond the milquetoast of the candidate’s agenda.

– McAuley Hentges
via Facebook
April 10, 2020

Biden’s path to victory in 2020 comes from reassembling the Obama coalition. But most of the young people who were inspired by “Yes We Can” haven’t felt the same way about Biden’s message of going back in time to the Obama era. Voters under 35 have lived through two global recessions, a failed war of choice in Iraq, mass incarceration and deportation, inaction in the face of the climate crisis, and a gun violence epidemic. We’ve seen a Republican Party that’s increasingly open to white nationalism, plutocracy, and authoritarianism, and a Democratic Party that hasn’t quite figured out how to respond.

The idea of returning to normal doesn’t make sense to us, because the political status quo has never worked particularly well during our lifetimes. For millions of young people, our path to a safe and secure middle-class life is far more out of reach than it was for our parents or grandparents. And now, according to latest research, a majority of voters under 45 has lost their job, been placed on leave, or had hours cut because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Young leaders know how important it is to defeat Trump. But young people also want to see a Democratic nominee fighting for solutions to the massive social problems that have kept our generation from enjoying secure, stable middle-class lives.

During this time of crisis, if Biden is going to tap into the well of hope that drove Obama’s success, we need him to root himself in the New Deal and Great Society traditions of the Democratic Party and champion the bold ideas that have galvanized generations before us and inspire our generation today.

Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson didn’t start out as leaders aligned with social movements calling for dramatic changes in their time. But they were pressured enough to finally feel the ground of history moving beneath their feet and eventually met the test of leadership the historical moment demanded. Biden should meet the moment.

Waleed Shahid
Excerpted from “Joe Biden,
Here’s How to Earn Our Support

The Nation
April 10, 2020

Above: Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders at the sixth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season in Los Angeles, California – December 19, 2019. (Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

If Trump is reelected, it’s a indescribable disaster. It means that the policies of the past four years, which have been extremely destructive to the American population, to the world, will be continued and probably accelerated. . . . What this means for the environment or the threat of nuclear war, which no one is talking about but is extremely serious, is indescribable.

Suppose Biden is elected. I would anticipate it would be essentially a continuation of Obama – nothing very great, but at least not totally destructive, and opportunities for an organized public to change what is being done, to impose pressures.

It’s common to say now that the Sanders campaign failed. I think that’s a mistake. I think it was an extraordinary success, completely shifted the arena of debate and discussion. Issues that were unthinkable a couple years ago are now right in the middle of attention.

The worst crime he committed, in the eyes of the establishment, is not the policy he’s proposing; it’s the fact that he was able to inspire popular movements, which had already been developing – Occupy, Black Lives Matter, many others – and turn them into an activist movement, which doesn’t just show up every couple years to push a leader and then go home, but applies constant pressure, constant activism and so on. That could affect a Biden administration.

[T]he Democratic Party occasionally halfheartedly tries to pass policy that would put them on the center-right of most European countries. But it is also a gravy train of jobs and influence for people who never have to actually try to pass the things they say they support or face any consequences for screwing up. Sanders was an existential threat to that comfortable arrangement. Of course he couldn't get any elite support.

. . . [R]ank-and-file Democrats largely agreed with Sanders' platform. But their overwhelming priority was trying to divine who was likeliest to defeat Trump, and the party elite and the mainstream media, especially trusted nominally liberal outlets like NPR and MSNBC, blared forth a constant message that Sanders was an unelectable radical, and Biden the safe choice. Democrats trust their leaders and the mainstream media, and they believed the message.

. . . So long as the Democratic establishment and its allied media maintain an iron grip over the party's voters, they will continue to exercise veto power over its presidential nominees.

Ryan Cooper
Excerpted from “Bernie Sanders Didn't Lose
Because His Ideas Were Unpopular

The Week
April 8, 2020

Bernie Sanders has transformed American politics. In his message yesterday to supporters, in which he announced the suspension of his 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, he argued that a “new vision for America is what our campaign has been about and what, in fact, we have accomplished.” The senator explained that: “Few would deny that over the course of the past five years, our movement has won the ideological struggle. In so-called red states and blue states and purple states, a majority of the American people now understand that we must raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, that we must guarantee health care as a right to all of our people, that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, and that higher education must be available to all, regardless of income.”

Many ideological battles have already been won – and others are likely to be won in the months and years to come, as policy makers wrestle with the reality that ideas once considered radical are now necessary responses to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic chaos it has spawned. But the greatest accomplishment of the Sanders campaign has less to do with moving good ideas out of the “radical” category and into the mainstream and more to do with inspiring the people who will carry those ideas forward. I am not alone in this faith. Just last week, when we spoke at length about the campaign he was then “assessing,” Sanders told me that “the future of this country does not rest with people who are 75 or 80 years of age. It rests with the young people. In terms of ideology, we are winning young people overwhelmingly. Overwhelmingly. I’m not just talking about my campaign. I’m talking about where the young people of this country are coming from. They are coming from a very, very different place, a very deep, different place than is the Democratic establishment.”

Inspiring the next generation of radical campaigners – whether they identify as democratic socialists, as Sanders does, or simply as advocates for transformative change – matters now. And it will matter for decades to come.

John Nichols
Excerpted from “Bernie Sanders Lost. But He Won
The Atlantic
April 9, 2020

I’m pretty sure historians will look back kindly on Sanders. He is the rare honest public servant, and one who ran a campaign centering human dignity. While self-branded as 'radical,' in reality his proposals were merely aligned with European social democracy. But given decades of anti-government propaganda and neoliberal economic doctrine, that alignment alone was transformative. Sanders has done more than anyone else to popularize policies including universal healthcare, a living wage, student debt cancellation coupled with free college, a wealth tax, workplace democracy and a Green New Deal. This has put the Left on stronger footing than it has ever been in my lifetime, even if we are not yet where we want to be.

. . . It’s tempting to give up on electoral politics, but that would be the wrong move and would play into the hands of those (Republican and Democrat) eager to see the Left disengage. The Left needs to continue its quest for political power, building on the example of bold fighters like Senator Sanders, Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, as well as local politicians such as Durham, North Carolina’s Jillian Johnson and Seattle’s Kshama Sawant. In the coming months we can still get behind inspiring candidates like Nikil Saval who is running for state legislature in Pennsylvania, Cori Bush who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Missouri, Jabari Brisport for New York’s state senate and Sandy Nurse for city council in New York City. We need these folks to win now more than ever.

Beating Donald Trump is, of course, imperative. But that doesn’t mean we need to treat Joe Biden with kid gloves. He must make concessions to the Left and earn our votes. An emerging coalition of young movement leaders are already making demands on the Biden campaign, insisting that he adopt a range of progressive policy positions that matter to the younger generation. Their initiative deserves support.

On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he was suspending his 2020 presidential campaign. The announcement came after a series of primary losses to former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now the presumed Democratic Party nominee. However, in Sanders' resignation, he also said he would remain on the ballot in states that still have primaries. This left many wondering, if Sanders is still on the ballot, what does this mean for Biden's nomination?

Sanders made it clear that he viewed Biden as the party’s nominee, but that doesn’t mean that Biden is automatically the official Democratic candidate. He still has to receive the party’s nomination, which happens at the Democratic National Convention in July. If Biden secures 1,991 pledged delegates at the DNC, which now seems likely, he will be the official nominee.

But by remaining on the ballot, voters can still choose Sanders in their state’s primary, which will allow him to continue to gather delegates. Currently, Sanders has 924 delegates to Biden’s 1,225. Staying on the ballot and acquiring more delegates heading into the DNC is something Sanders believes will give him the ability to influence the 2020 Democratic platform.

"I will stay on the ballot and all remaining states and continue to gather delegates, while Vice President Biden will be the nominee," Sanders said in a speech Wednesday. "We must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions. Then together, standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump – the most dangerous president in modern American history – and we will fight to elect strong progressives, at every level of government."

Delegates won by candidates who have dropped out are encouraged to vote for the person endorsed by the former candidate they represent, but they do not have to and are technically free agents. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg won 26 delegates before dropping out of the race in March, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar won 7 and Sen. Elizabeth Warren won 81 (Buttigieg and Klobuchar have endorsed Biden; Warren did not endorse).

Although Biden is the "presumed" party nominee, he won't become the official nominee until the DNC commences. Given that Sanders dropped out of the race, it's unlikely that Biden will be challenged in any other capacity, including the very real possibility of a brokered convention that many believed may happen if no candidate received enough delegates. Sanders suspended his campaign because he did not see “a viable path to the nomination,” though his influence over the Democratic party remains strong.

Much will be written, in the weeks, months, and years ahead, about how much Sanders was able to achieve in the road’s final stretch. Many will argue that socialism has been significantly destigmatized across an important share of the American electorate. We will hear reminders that a $15 minimum wage, free college, and other ideas deemed radical and unrealistic just a few short years ago, are now central to mainstream policy conversation. Some will point out that self-styled moderates and figures in the Democratic establishment, even while rejecting Sanders’s Medicare for All plan, have been pushed by the discourse surrounding it into support for dramatically expanding public health insurance in America through schemes that resemble the universal health care regimes in place across Europe. And so on.

. . . The last Democratic president urged his party to embrace the audacity of hope. For him, hope was an airy thing: a feeling rooted in the faith that our future can be built on reason and goodwill alone. But offering real hope to the American people is a material project. Hope depends upon the deconstruction of an economic system that leaves too many Americans wondering if they have the resources and capacity to make it through today and a privileged few free to build themselves a better tomorrow. Sanders has carried many to this realization, but a new generation of progressives enraged and heartbroken by the last administration and the last 20 years of American life have also carried him, and it is impossible to imagine his campaign would have been as successful without the support of activists and organizers who will fight on long after this election ends.

Nevertheless, for all of his accomplishments and victories, Sanders did ultimately come up short. His efforts were undergirded by a familiar theory: the notion that the working class, the politically disaffected, and the reliably left-wing could be galvanized by a progressive agenda in such great numbers that they would sweep away the existing political order. But the barriers to participation for Americans at the margins of politics are significant and not entirely structural. Most people, even in the best of times, want to vote for a candidate they believe can succeed. For the majority of the Democratic electorate – justifiably preoccupied with the task of defeating President Trump in November – that candidate was Joe Biden, and his campaign was backed by a coalition of voters that included not only suburbanites but a broad swath of working-class Democrats.

Biden’s victory has been credited mostly to granular missteps from the Sanders campaign and the last-minute moderate rally around Biden after his victory in South Carolina. But the reality is that progressive electoral victories have been rare for generations. Sanders’s campaigns have offered evidence that the challenge for the left now isn’t winning broad support for its policy program – much of Sanders’s platform was popular among the general electorate, and among Democratic voters, the fight over the substance of proposals like Medicare for All has essentially been won. But the model for progressive electoral success is plainly broken somewhere, and solutions probably lie in questions of political affect – in making wary voters believe progressivism is truly viable at the ballot box and within our sclerotic political institutions.

There’s a temptation to believe progressives will inherit the Democratic Party naturally in due time. Sanders, after all, performed well not only with the youngest Democrats but also a significant share of voters around middle age, while the heart of Biden’s coalition was older voters who aren’t too long for this world. But as demographically inevitable as progressive ascendancy might seem, the country and the world can’t wait for the Democratic Party to ease itself into reality. We have perilously little time to get a handle on the climate crisis before it becomes a civilization-upending catastrophe, and the Republican Party has spent the last decade erecting an impregnable wall around our institutions that is nearly complete.

We are entirely out of somedays and eventuallys. Progressives need to find the missing pieces to the electoral puzzle now. But no matter whether Sanders won or lost, progress was always going to rest upon our ability to come together, press our demands, and fight for people we don’t know at our workplaces and in the streets. “Not me. Us.” Those words are his legacy and the way forward.

Osita Nwanevu
Excerpted from “Don’t Mourn Bernie Sanders Candidacy. Organize
The New Republic
April 8, 2020

UPDATE: Just hours after I posted this compilation, Bernie Sanders officially endorsed Joe Biden as president so as to defeat Donald Trump. The two also pledged to work together, with Bernie noting, “I have been very pleased that your staff and my staff have been working together over the last several weeks [to come] up with a number of task forces. These are task forces that will look at some of the most important issues facing this country,” among them the economy, education, immigration, criminal justice, climate change, and health care.

“I think that your endorsement means a great deal, it means a great deal to me,” Biden told Bernie. “I think people are going to be surprised that we are apart on some issues but we’re awfully close on a whole bunch of others. If I am the nominee, which it looks like now you just made me, I’m going to need you, not just to campaign, but to govern.”

In short, Joe Biden's deference to Bernie, his commitment to work with him, and his pledge to not simply go back to “business as usual” if elected, gives me hope.

Following is today's live-stream meeting between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Related Off-site Links:
Suspending the Campaign, Not the Movement: Sanders Pulls Out of 2020 Race But Will Stay on BallotDemocracy Now! (April 9, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Suspends Presidential CampaignBBC News (April 9, 2020).
From AOC to Biden: Politicians React to Bernie Sanders Ending His Bid for President – Sarah Midkiff (Refinery 29, April 8, 2020).
“He Needs to Earn Our Trust”: Progressive Groups Begin Push for Biden to Keep Wall Street Out of the White House – Brian Schwartz (CNBC News, April 9, 2020).
Bernie's Campaign Is Over: But Retreat Is Not the Same As Surrender – Norman Solomon (Salon, April 10, 2020).
Thank You, Bernie Sanders. Screw You, New York Times – Laura Flanders (Common Dreams, April 10, 2020).
How Biden Can Earn the Progressive Vote – Ronald W. Dixon (Medium, April 12, 2020).
I Would Endorse and Even Campaign for Joe Biden if He Did These Five Things – Shaun King (The North Star, April 13, 2020).
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Warns Biden That Just Throwing Progressives a “Couple of Bones” Will Not Be Enough – Eoin Higgins (Common Dreams, April 13, 2020).
Biden Quietly Working with Sanders’ Campaign to Avoid “Never Biden” Movement – Emily Jacobs (New York Post, April 13, 2020).
I Literally Wrote the Case Against Joe Biden. But I’ve Got Some Free Advice for Him – Branko Marcetic (Jacobin, April 13, 2020).
New Poll Shows Trump Beating Biden, Losing to Sanders – Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti (The Hill, April 13, 2020).

UPDATES: Joe Biden Needs to Do a Lot More if He Wants to Win Over Sanders Voters – Nathan Robinson (The Guardian, April 14, 2020).
The Media Had a Formula for Reporting Sexual Misconduct. Then Joe Biden Was Accused – Branko Marcetic (Jacobin, April 14, 2020).
Bernie Sanders Foreign Policy Advisors Invited to Biden Camp – Matthew Petti (The National Interest, April 14, 2020).
Sanders to Supporters: Refusing to Back Biden is “Irresponsible” – Ursula Perano (Axios, April 14, 2020).
Don’t Blame Progressives: Trump’s 2020 Win Will Be on Centrists – Ted Rall (LA Progressive, May 20, 2020).

For The Wild Reed's coverage of Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign, see the following chronologically-ordered posts:
The Case for Bernie Sanders
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
“It's Time to Take a Stand”: Marianne Williamson Endorses Bernie Sanders for President
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
Progressive Perspectives on Big Tuesday and Beyond
“Let Us All Unite!”
Something to Think About – March 23, 2020
Deep Gratitude

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

Opening image: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images.