Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Starting to Bern

Rolling Stone has a great interview with Bernie Sanders. I encourage you to read the whole thing. And for you Conservatives out there, I want to make special note of a few passages that might even help you.

First of all, how long has it been since we had a Boy Scout as President? Gerald Ford? Bernie was a Boy Scout:

"You're so Brooklyn that it's imprinted on your vocal cords. What kind of reinvention did it take to become a Vermonter?
When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, we lived in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in an apartment. I went to Boy Scout camp for three or four years. And going into the country was transformational for me. I remember on one occasion when I came back, I was crying, getting back into the city."  

And then there's gun rights. Bernie is not exactly a supporter of the NRA, but he recognizes the rural nature of his State. People buy guns to hunt in Vermont, not necessarily to shoot their neighbors. He has voted against bills to make gun-sellers liable for crimes committed with the guns sold:
"Now this legislation. We have a lot of gun stores in Vermont, small shops. If Mr. Smith, the gun-shop owner, sells you a gun legally, you have your instant background check, you get the gun. Then you flip out and you shoot your wife. It happens. Should the gun-shop owner be held liable for selling you the product?
I would think the courts could make that determination.
No. Well, let me make it: I don't think he should. I honestly don't think it should any more than if you picked up that table and banged me over the head and killed me. Would you hold that person [who sold the table] liable? We know what guns do. Guns have the capability of killing people. But I do not believe that somebody who lawfully sells a gun to somebody else should be held responsible if somebody uses that product wrongfully. That was in that bill."
For the quasi-Libertarians, there is also his reluctant affinity for Rand Paul:
"I would say Rand Paul, on occasion, comes out and says something that is sensible. On the other hand, what did he recently say? That I'm like Pol Pot? So we don't want to overdo it here in expressing great sympathy for Rand Paul. But he has shown a consistent attention to the invasion of our privacy rights both from the federal government and corporate America. And he is much [more] reluctant than his colleagues to get us into another war. On those two issues, he has stood above the other Republican candidates." 
To allay the fears of Socialism, we must remember that Bernie calls himself a "Democratic Socialist." As he defines it, a democratic regulation of the abuses of the capitalist system, not state ownership of the means of production. This is pretty close to my personal political philosophy.

In distancing himself from his hero, Eugene Debs (a real Socialist who ran for President from prison in 1920), he says:
"The essence of what he was talking about [was] trying to create a society where all people had a decent standard of living rather than the types of massive exploitation and inequality which he saw in his time, and which is here today. It looks different: Children are not working in factories and they're not working in the fields, but you have millions of families today who do not know how they're gonna feed their kids tonight. That's a fact. So many of these problems remain, maybe not as severe. But his vision is a vision that I share.
Including an "overthrow of the capitalist system"?
No, no, no. Now you're being provocative. If you follow my campaign, have you heard me talk about overthrowing the capitalist economic system?
No, I haven't.
OK. What I do talk about is a political revolution. We had an election last November in which 63 percent of the people didn't vote; 80 percent of young people didn't vote. That's, to me, not a democratic system. So what we have got to do is not only overturn Citizens United, but we have got to move, in my view, to public funding of elections. We have to pass universal legislation that makes everybody in this country who is 18 or older eligible to vote, so we do away with the Republican voter suppression around the country."
Yes, I like more participatory democracy. That's what our Founders established by the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution (even if they didn't quite envision women, slaves, non-property owners, etc. voting. It's sort of like the Magna Carta being the first chink in the divine right of kings leading to democratic systems even if only the Barons, i.e., medieval warlords, gained supposed rights in that document). These Principles of Democracy are one more reason why I don't believe in original intent, or at least original language, unless you do read in that broader, Lincolnian intent of the rights of all the people to democratic representation. But I'm digressing.

Back to Bernie. Check out the Rolling Stone. Check out what he's really saying. Give him a chance.

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