Asking and answering three questions at the Bernie Sanders rally from George Payne
Bernie Sanders has already changed American politics forever.
He has answered three questions that have been unknowns up until this point: 1) Can American voters support a candidate who is openly and proudly irreligious? 2) Can American voters support a candidate who is both ethnically and culturally Jewish? 3) Can American voters elect a candidate who has unambiguously denounced corporate greed and personal egoism? The cantankerously earnest Senator from Vermont with econ professor glasses and a thick Brooklyn accent has answered all three questions with an emphatic and heroically resounding yes!
What the Clinton machine must realize is that Sanders supporters want something much more than just a political revolution. They want a revolution that will make competitive politics obsolete and social justice based cooperation imperative. And they want change now. for if we do not undergo a cosmic shift in our thinking as a species, it will no longer be possible to survive on this planet. We are using up all of our clean drinking water. We are poisoning our food. We are melting Mother Nature’s defense shield. Every day billions of invaluable miracles called human beings toil in bondage while the rich and powerful watch deliriously and get high on their suffering. This can not go on. What is needed is a Roosevelt sized vision for America, and Sanders is promising that we can make it happen. He is drawing 15,000 people in Buffalo and 27,000 people in Washington Square Park because he knows that it’s not him alone who is going to the White House. He is bringing all of us with him.
To point out that there are major differences between Sanders and Clinton on almost every front is hardly groundbreaking journalism. They have bludgeoned each other with the differences on national television. Let’s just say this: Sanders has received 6 million individual donations. This is more than any other candidate in U.S. history. The average donation is a mere $27 which is simply phenomenal. The fact that he has raised this money without taking a dime from the corporate class is beyond phenomenal. We actually need another word that has not even been coined yet to describe how unpredictable and unfathomable this accomplishment is. Moreover, whether Secretary Clinton can see it or not, most American citizens are finished with the oligarchy mindset. They want one vote for one person. They are done with the rotten trade deals which have been pillaging our working class families for over 30 years.
On Tuesday morning I experienced this energy firsthand inside Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex on the campus of Monroe Community College. The arena seats 3,000 comfortably but somehow fit around 6,000 raucous Bernie fans. As the chanting revved up and the Brice Springsteen and Bob Marley songs got pumping through the speakers, I sensed that Clinton is in much more trouble than she realizes. You can’t feel what this is truly like unless you have been there, and I’m guessing she has only experienced it through the staff reports of her aids and the strategic testimonies of her field campaigners. His rallies are a mix between a rock concert and a tent revival, and people are totally fired up by his gospel. One woman’s sign read: “It has been 240 years and this nation is ready for a Jew to be President!”
But what is this really all about? Is it about peace? There were certainly a lot of peace and justice folks waving “Birdie Says No More War!” banners. Is it about a future to believe in? From the deafening roar permeating through the rusted pigeon shit white rafters, it occurred to me that this is actually the essence of Barack Obama’s party before he became established. Signs of “Not for Sale” and “Bull Moose Bernie” are the same ones which flew eight years ago — only with Obama’s name instead of Sanders. Blacks and whites, Indian Americans and Native Americans, college students galore, 40 somethings and hipsters, gay rights activists and labor unionists. This is the real Democratic party and it was in full bloom in the Flower City. One man who waited in the 4,000 person zigzagging line out in the parking lot, told me that “I haven’t felt so much excitement for a political event in Rochester since Jessie Jackson came here in 92.”
Absorbing all of these signs and soaking up the electric atmosphere inside the arena, I couldn’t help recall how Clinton — just 4 days earlier — had to rent out a student gym. Despite her strong base in Western New York, she was met by a relatively tame crowd and not a few angry demonstrators- some calling for her imprisonment. The whole scene was sort of strange and unnerving in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on. It was a totally different vibe on Tuesday at the Sander’s event. Clinton should be paying more attention to why it’s so different or she will lose New York and start an atomic chain reaction that will spell the end of her presidential ambitions.
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