The first time I heard Bernie Sanders talk about “a political revolution” was a few weeks ago. As I started connecting the dots, I began to realize that we are living in a transformational moment in which political leadership meets the conscience of America. Let me explain.
I’ve admired Bernie Sanders for several years. I’ve learned about Bernie’s point of view while listening to him on the Thom Hartmann’s Brunch with Bernie show every Friday. I have known since I began listening to him regularly that Bernie is a staunch defender of social security and that he has decried income inequality his entire political career. However, I had not yet connected the dots to recognize the direct connection between Senator Sanders’ campaign and the political revolution taking place in America.
A growing disenchantment with government has recently reached the boiling point. We have seen signs of this in the Occupy Wall Street movement which spread across the U.S. and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. The roots of this disenchantment reach back 35 years to the Reagan era and before. Reagan has been credited with starting the revolution that bears his name. The Reagan Revolution is characterized by deregulation, privatization, globalization and shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to the poor and middle class. The growing anger in America today is a direct result of the Reagan revolution’s devastating effects on the poor and middle class. In fact, this disenchantment is fomenting into a counter revolution whose first volley was launched September 17, 2011 when Occupy Wall Street appeared in Zuccotti Park, NYC.
My epiphany came the first time I saw Bernie Sanders in an early debate or town hall. In the weeks, months and even a couple of years preceding this moment, I and other’s have mentioned the people picking up their pitchforks, metaphorically, in reference to various peasant revolutions over the centuries from England to Germany to France to the Soviet Union. As a child of the 60s, I was expecting, though not encouraging, civil disturbances along the same lines as those we experienced during the Viet Nam war. Senator Sandors had a different sort of revolution in mind. When asked how he intended to get his agenda passed, should he be elected. Bernie responded that the millions of people who support his political revolution will put such intense pressure on Congress that our elected representatives will be forced to act. It was at that moment that I realized that the American conscience had truly risen up and is now actively engaged in a political revolution.
It is also crystal clear to me that Bernie understands what I have understood for many years. Our elected representatives need our support beyond election day. In order to elect President Sanders, I and my fellow political activists will need to lead those around us. We will need first to inform our friends and neighbors on the realities underlying the devastation of the middle class. We will need to teach all those who understand the issues how to participate effectively in the political process. We will need to develop and execute a plan to get millions of new voters to polling places for the first time. But we will need to do more. In order for President Sanders to put a Restore The American Middle Class Prosperity that was fostered four score years ago by another political revolution led by FDR, we will need to do more. We will need to put all of our elected representatives on notice that we expect their cooperation in Restoring The American Middle Class Prosperity. If we expect to see action on the issues like income disparity, economic opportunity, criminal injustice, the glass ceiling and the class ceiling, veterans care and racial and ethnic discrimination and corporate influence in government, we will need to do more.
If there is to be a political revolution, it will have to start with each of us. We need to do more. It is one thing to support the revolution. It is completely different thing to BE the Revolution. The revolution will not happen until we recognize that we ARE the revolution. We must be the change we continue to hope for.