Our opinion: This ship needs a new kind of captain


"One of the greatest upsets in modern political history," is how FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver characterized the 2-point win by Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in Michigan.

Silver and other political analysts had predicted Clinton would take Michigan by between 13 and 25 points, but when the final vote was tallied, Sanders walked away with a 50 to 48 victory.

"Sanders notched a victory in a major, Democratic-leaning state where he was expected to lose badly. If nothing else, it shifted the momentum of the race psychologically, at least for now, improving his chances for the next round," wrote J.J. Goldberg for Forward. "More important in the coming days, the Michigan result showed that Sanders' appeal can extend beyond the small, rural and largely white states he's carried so far, such as New Hampshire, Maine and Kansas. That was the pundits' biggest indictment against him up to now. He was a boutique candidate. Now he's a contender."

Since Sanders announced his candidacy for president he has been written off by the mainstream media, party insiders, pundits and everyone who thinks his or her dime-store education in economics makes them an expert on how the nation's tax dollars should be spent. But time after time, Sanders has proven them wrong. His "pie in the sky" proposals have appealed to a demographic of alienated Americans who have watched more and more of their piece of the pie taken from them by the 1 percent who keep on reassuring us that we must be patient because, after all, they are the job creators. It's amazing that Americans have bought this trickle-down brand of voodoo economics for the past 35 years; but then, it had a great salesman. If Ronald Reagan was anything, he sure was a fantastic pitchman for the oligarchs in our society.

Sanders has given voice to a rage that boiled over during the Occupy Wall Street movement following the crash of 2007 and the bailouts of the firms that caused the debacle. Pundits still wonder if Sanders, who is perceived as a one-issue candidate (the injustices of economic inequality), can withstand the primary battles in the rest of the United States, and if he can, whether he can survive the billion dollars or so that organizations backed by the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Richard Scaife and others will spend on discrediting and smearing him. Hillary Clinton has withstood the barrage for the past 25 years and there is no doubt she will remain standing under withering fire. But as Robert Reich has noted, Clinton is best to head the system we now have, and Bernie Sanders is best to get the system we need.

Supporters of Bernie Sanders have been characterized as lazy couch surfers who want a free lunch, as people who don't understand basic economics or spent too much time eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream. But if you talk to them, it's not about "the free stuff." After years of groveling for scraps fallen from the pockets of the rich and powerful, they want the well off to stop using their clout to their advantage and to kick in a little more for the benefit of society as a whole.

They want their children to go to college without being saddled with 20 years of debt. They want poor hungry children to not be punished for the sins of their parents. They want Wall Street and the big banks and the hedge fund managers to answer for the crimes that devastated the middle class following the crash of 2007. They want war criminals to face trial for their actions that led to the deaths and mutilations of thousands of patriotic American soldiers and millions of people in the Middle East. They want those who approved torture sent to the Hague for reckoning. They want fossil fuels taxed to high heaven to pay for solar on every roof top.

The only candidate they hear speaking truth to power, the only candidate who supports these aforementioned goals is Bernie. Idealism? Maybe. Pipe dreams? America was built by two kinds of people: Those who did so on the backs of slaves and wage labor, and those who were accused of pursuing pipe dreams but pushed through the ridicule and skepticism to achieve their own American Dream.

While we are confident Hillary Clinton is capable of leading the nation as it is, she is not the agent of change that we thought we were getting in 2008. If you are comfortable with the status quo, then by all means vote for her, but if you believe this ship is off course and needs a new kind of captain, vote for Sanders.


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