What most analysts of the election don’t seem to understand is that Bernie Sanders, in his campaign that has been improbably financed by millions of people instead of a handful of billionaires, has tapped into the people’s yearning for democracy, for a voice in the future of our planet. It has nothing to do with how many angels can dance on the head of single payer, or whether college should be free or just less expensive. In the very process of building his campaign, Bernie has unleashed the power of authentic democracy. His differences with Clinton have little to do with specifics of policy and way more to do with which candidate can not only talk the talk, but who can walk the walk. The toughest challenge of our political system is how to get big money out of politics, and Bernie has shown us how it is done. He has done it. We have done it.
It’s time to consider next steps after the campaign even as we are up to our eyeballs in it. What if he doesn’t win? How can we maintain and grow the movement with or without Bernie in the White House?
I happen to be in Mexico right now for a writer’s conference. It’s good to experience the real world of abject poverty that we don’t see that much of in the U. S. It’s good to remember that if we want equality, we can’t limit it to the United States. Bernie does not understand this yet, or if he does, he’s being quiet about it.
A Mexican friend is writing a play about what happened quite recently in the village of Cherán, Michoacan. My friend told the story much more poetically, but here is the Wikipedia version:
On April 15, 2011 a group of women using rocks and fireworks attacked a busload of illegal loggers armed with machine guns associated with the Mexican drug cartel La Familia Michoacana. The indigenous women (the Purépecha people) assumed control over the town, expelled the police force and blocked roads leading to oak timber on a nearby mountain which had been subject to illegal logging by armed gangs supported by corrupt officials. The new autonomous government is composed of councils elected directly by the people. This community administration is leading an effort to plant thousands of new trees. The Mexican government is treating autonomous Cherán as a legal self-governing indigenous community.
This story is a model for how the revolution must proceed. We must organize our communities and take them back from the corrupt politicians, speculators, and drug lords. We can use our Bernie networks to do this, and we should start talking about it now.