by Joe Courter
There is no magic wand to make our electoral system work better. Technology and big money have led the way to hugely long campaigns, and sound bite battles of little or no substance. Through clever and subtle refinement made possible by a populace rendered apathetic toward acting and organizing in its own interests, a tightly controlled two-party system has been established, with the able assistance of powerful corporate interests, which include the petroleum industry, the weapons industry, the media conglomerates, the banking industry and others who, with their direct influence on elected officials, help write the laws that benefit THEIR own interests.
These high-rolling interests are NOT apathetic; they actively employ armies of lobbyists, the best minds they can buy in the public relations (propaganda) industry, spend huge amount of money, and work to hold on to and gain an increasingly secure grasp on the reins of power in this nation.
For the first time in a very long time, there is a candidate running as a major party candidate directly challenging this corrupt and unfair system. Oh yes, there were Jesse Jackson, and Dennis Kucinich in prior election cycles, but Bernie Sanders is out there this time, and with the small field of Democrats, getting a lot of time to put forth another vision, a vision which embraces a way of doing things that most of the rest of the developed world already does; valuing universal healthcare and low-cost higher education, reining in the ultra rich and corporate stock traders to pay their fair share.
But this is not just about Bernie; this is about awakening an alienated populace to begin to recognize their latent power and begin organizing for the long haul. Bernie’s job is to tell the truth. Ours is to build the movement.
Again, there is no magic wand. Some more perfect candidate is not on the horizon, and we do not have the luxury of waiting for them. The system has been rigged to prevent any third party from having a voice as it stands now, and for the foreseeable future. The powerful interests have seen to that with increasing control over the debate process.
The door is open now, though, with the momentum being generated by the Sanders campaign, to build a movement that lasts beyond the electoral cycle. In the past we had the union movement to sustain the pressure; that power has been whittled away. But there is still power to be had. We are many, they are few. The key is a change in consciousness, a commitment to organize and fight back.
It is also a need for commitment to use the electoral system strategically. Locally, support better local candidates; that is where your vote has the most power. Work to get out the vote. Exert pressure to make voting easier. And in this coming presidential primary, if you have chosen to register as an Independent, Green, or whatever, change that registration to Democrat so you can vote for Bernie. You can change back afterward if you want, but be heard this time around. This same logic holds for the August primaries for County Commission and other races; don’t silence your voice over your distaste for the Democrats. People died and were beaten for the right to vote. Maximize your voice by thinking strategically.
There is a lot of distrust of Hillary Clinton out there. Recent polling has shown Bernie doing better than her against a Republican. That is a very hopeful statistic, as weak (perhaps pathetic is a better word) as the Repubs are this cycle. Getting a win in the nomination process is key. Sanders has a solid track record of telling it like it is. A large turnout can change Congress, and if he gets the nomination, there is more likely a big turnout, which will help all down the ballot. Feel the Bern! Hillary sure has; his candidacy has made her change her positions on a number of issues. All this is an opportunity for public education and consciousness-raising among the people.
And if he loses the nomination? That’ll be a shame. And if he endorses Hillary? So what; that won’t be a surprise. Whether Bernie wins or loses, we keep organizing.