About four years ago I wrote presidential candidate Bernie Sanders a letter giving him some unsolicited advice. (A real letter involving words on paper, an envelope and postage.)
Bernie, I says, your agenda is real good but your approach to voters is a little off-key – the first thing you’ve got to do is make them understand what Democratic Socialism is.
At the time it was Hillary hacking away at him with hints of gloom and disaster should he become the party’s nominee and then, unlikely enough, Leader of the Free World. Something like, we would all end up wearing gray pajamas and marching in lockstep to Big Brother’s political pep rallies and government jobs – if we were lucky enough to have one.
Then, of course, with the help of some biased media and for other reasons the wife and I still argue about, the non-cookie- baker won the nomination but lost that November, lost the biggest government job of all to the detestable cretin who now soils the White House carpets. (You know, the orange pancaked made-up guy who fires other government workers if they don’t do exactly what he says.)
But back to the letter: I advised Sen. Sanders, whom I have admired since he was a lowly Congressman and an independent to boot, to quickly buy some time on CNN and MSNBC to explain what being a Democratic Socialist actually means. So they wouldn’t get it confused with the Scientific Socialism of Karl Marx, who was not a lesser known Marx Brother but a Russian revolutionary of many years ago who spent a lot of time in the British Museum working out a political/economic system whereby capitalism and private property would dwindle, then cease to exist and workers would own and control the means of production and everyone would get paid what they were worth and have enough to live on. “From each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs and everyone will be healthy and happy,” is how he put it. (I added that last part, but it was something close to this.)
I already had a pretty good notion of what Sen. Sanders was about, I wrote in the letter, but many others were getting the wrong idea from ultra-conservative Republicans and their mouthpiece Fox News, and sometimes even from “moderate” Democrats.
Well, he didn’t listen – I didn’t even get a reply asking for a few bucks – and he didn’t win enough of the primary races, and the rest is the kind of history that makes you want to cry unless you’re wearing a well-worn MAGA cap and matching T-shirt set.
So here it is four years later, give or take, and once again it’s Bernie vs. the Establishment and once again the “moderate” candidates like Mayor Pete and Joe the Veep are hinting at disaster – that the Donald would make mincemeat out of the Snowy- Haired Man from the Green Mountains should he beat them out, and Super Tuesday will become the Death Knell for not just Bernie and the Democrats but our county and the planet. (Which, if Donald Juan is re-elected, is not all that far-fetched, actually.)
I can’t remember if I mentioned to Bern that he should point out Democratic Socialism works just fine in England and Sweden and a lot of other European countries we like to visit and from where a lot of our ancestors came a few generations ago.
And I’m not sure if I suggested he could point out during debates and rallies that we already HAVE socialism here!
Think FDR! Think LBJ! Think, oddly enough, RMN, a scoundrel for sure, but one who advocated for a guaranteed annual wage for all. And last but not least, think of BHO, who brought us Obamacare, which has saved untold lives and prevented myriad bankruptcies.
And loudly stress that unless the good citizens want to get rid of Social (ahem) Security, Medicare (double ahem), Pell Grants and the many other government programs that have helped 99 percent of us, maybe it’s time we gratefully acknowledge it and no longer fall for The Scare Tactics of the Right-Wing Nuts (lots of whom depend on them programs as well).
So maybe I’ll have to write Bern another letter before it’s too late and take it down to the U.S. Post Office, where some very competent government employees will make sure the mail goes through, as they have for well over two centuries.
David Long is a veteran journalist and co-owner of the Four Corners Free Press.