Yeah, we all want to change the world, as the Beatles sang. The questions are, what changes do we want to see and HOW do we plan on making those changes happen?
Regarding the first part of the question, I think it’s pretty clear by this point what changes Bernie Sanders would like to see: break up the big banks, smash the power of Wall Street, sharply raise taxes (particularly on the wealthy), provide universal health care and higher education to all Americans, raise marginal tax rates sharply on the “millionayahs and billionayahs,” get rid of fossil fuels, etc, etc.
Setting aside for the moment whether or not you agree with any of those things, the question is HOW to go about accomplishing those objectives. Bernie’s “theory of the case” is clear, if not particularly detailed: “’We need a political revolution of millions of people in this country who are prepared to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough,’” Sanders argued. ‘I want to help lead that effort.’”
Now, forgive me for being reminded of the old Steve Martin joke: “‘Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?’ First.. get a million dollars.” In other words, just snap your fingers and voila, you’ve got a million dollars. Or, in the case of Sanders, just run for president and voila, a political revolution?
Unfortunate, no. It simply doesn’t work that way. To the contrary, the correct “theory of the case” is much closer to the slogan of this blog: “think globally, act locally.” Which raises the question: will the millions of Sanders supporters who are really “feeling the Bern” right now stick around after June, when Hillary Clinton almost certainly wins the Democratic nomination? Just as importantly (if not more so), will Sanders’ supporters, many of them young and enthusiastic, stick around after November 2016 for the hard, slogging, grueling work of building a progressive movement at the local, state and national level going forward?
I asked some Democratic friends of mine this morning this question: “What would you say the chances are that Sanders supporters will continue their ‘revolution’ after Sanders loses, at the local and state levels in particular?” The answers included: “at best 5%;” “I guess Howard Dean after 2004 would be the best corollary;” and “they might get excited for someone else, but it’s not gonna be consistent.” Also, here’s a lengthier response which I think is worth quoting in full: