Wow…it’s been a while.
I have to say that I have missed blogging, but after the 9/11 anniversary event, the course of this blog seemed to change, and I with it. It was moving in a direction toward which I didn’t entirely know how to charter, and so I backed off.
Stories from the Heartland has gathered a lot of dust. It’s been more than three years since my last post–a missive about the Midwestern winters I suffered through each year, trying to tame my San Diego blood in sub-freezing temperatures.
But when my brother emailed me after Bernie’s primary loss in New York saying we should write a blog post about it, I perked up. I love sharing writing space with people, and he doesn’t have a blog. So I agreed.
And since his win in Indiana last night and his march toward our home state of California, it’s good to keep the conversation going.
Here’s what he wrote:
Optimism in the Afterglow
Post-New York primary, the delegate count is probably insurmountable for Bernie. But, wow, who would have thought someone with such uncompromising dedication to taking on the power structure of this country would come so far?! I am optimistic about the future.
Younger people broke heavily for Bernie and I’m not so sure this is because you become more “pragmatic” or conservative when you age. I think the most important factor driving the generational divide is the difference in where people get their information.
My mom and other good friends of her generation, who generally hold the same values and ideals as I do, were suspicious of Bernie because of things they had heard watching the news or listening to NPR. A limited set of sources. I get a lot of my news from Huffington Post or Common Dreams or my Facebook feed, all of which synthesize news from a broad array of sources. And those younger than me who spend more time on the internets have an even greater and more diverse set of sources from which to get their information and read opinion. Remember that poll showing that the word capitalism has stronger negative connotations than socialism for millennials?
So I’m optimistic that this movement will grow and that we will continue to fight for economic and social justice. For real equality of opportunity. I’m optimistic that the younger generation more clearly understands the degree to which large corporations control our economy and environment. And they’re looking for alternative models.
Bernie represents a manifestation of an alternative, and it has encouraged many. If Hillary indeed becomes the Democratic nominee, we must make sure she feels the pressure to fight against old friends. This article by Naomi Klein shows just how hard that might be.
But the Republican alternative at this point is either corporo-fascism (Trump) or theologo-fascism (Cruz). And I’m optimistic that not only will we reject those divisive alternatives in November, but we will continue to build on the progressive movement that Bernie, a socialist (well, democratic socialist) invigorated.
Here’s a quick background on my brother. He’s always smiling, and he has a great smile. People are always commenting on his great smile. He’s optimistic and passionate about his beliefs, and he’s had some brushes with activism. But he also lives in San Diego, a hotbed of content, of sunshine and glistening ocean views. I’m not quite so optimistic.
Here’s my response:
I’ll Believe It When I See It
All the momentum and excitement Bernie has generated among the young people, the progressives, the decline-to-states and the I’ve-had-enough-of-the-status-quos is wonderful. But it’s no more wonderful than Occupy Wall Street, Save the CSU, Black Lives Matter and the 2000 Nader campaign.
All of those occurred in my conscious lifetime, and I have been marginally or deeply involved in them. They have all had great surges, and then the bottoms fell out and the momentum fell with it.
I’m not hopeful that once Clinton gets the nomination, much to my chagrin, that she will keep talking about the many points that Bernie raised—equal pay, universal health care, affordable/free college, a ban to fracking. These issues are not just pressing, they are dire.
We face a very real catastrophe on our hands in the form of climate change. Humans are quite adaptable for sure, but geez. What is the next 10, 20, 30 years going to look like? Bernie’s chutzpah to not take corporate money, to fund a national, high-profile campaign at a truly grassroots level, made me think that I could trust him to not kowtow to corporate interests when it came to the environment. Clinton? Is she going to say what needs to be said? Do what needs to be done?
That’s just one issue.
I’m glad he was able to direct the conversation toward progressive values, but that conversation has not been picked up by the mainstream media
in any substantial form. Most voters don’t read alternative media like you, dear brother. Bernie doesn’t have the name recognition that Hillary has. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Bernie’s disdain for the establishment (media included) has been the major obstacle of this campaign. And it’s a main reason he hasn’t topped Hillary in the delegate count. People don’t know who he is, and the media’s not about to tell them.
So where do we go from here?
For real, on-the-ground change to actually happen there needs to be continuing agitation on very local levels that translates to elected leaders in city council, county seats and state government. Even school boards!!
This is what the Tea Party did, then they were able to get people into the House, into the Senate…and they have hijacked the GOP. This is what the Christian Coalition did before them, moving conservative social values into the GOP platform.
Progressives need to think in that broad, long-term vein, where we can steer the Democratic Party and force it to address some of these intensely needed and crucial policies Bernie has been relentlessly stumping. We need enough candidates running on all levels of government that it doesn’t seem so strange to have a true progressive on the ticket.
The optimist in me hopes that Bernie’s movement doesn’t wither away like the others I’ve witnessed. I hope he can continue to encourage his supporters to stay active in the political process, to get involved on their local levels. And I hope he doesn’t go away. I just put a “Birdie” bumper sticker on my Prius (ha ha, shut up), and I don’t wanna take it off.
And then my bro wrote back…
I do agree that the tea party movement was quite successful at creating a Republican party with strong and cohesive values. But remember how this originated – a consortium of big-money think tanks funded by the Koch brothers and their ilk.
Real Populist movements throughout our history have originated in the streets. We shouldn’t seek to emulate the tea party approach because we’ll never be, and never should be, top-down led. Top-down inspired, sure, as what Bernie has done. But remember, the reason Bernie has done so well is because of the aforementioned movements that have infiltrated our psyche.
Occupy and the 99% vs. 1%? That completely changed the dialogue. Black-lives Matter? That is not fizzling out any time soon, and will be here in one form or another until “the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes.”
The movement to stem Climate Change continues to strengthen. You’re right, not fast enough. But as Dad would say, that means we just have to push harder because the alternative is giving in. We change the conversation and the politicians will follow. Keep bringing it up at dinner parties, chatting with your friends and acquaintances. Keep posting on your blog.
Because the young people are reading this stuff…