HIS Revolution – A Future HE can believe in – by Amanda S. Green
Bernie Sanders is no longer the only supposedly Democrat (but really a socialist – kind of sort of) on the national political scene. The news is rife with the so-called wisdom of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I say so-called wisdom because, let’s face it, she has repeatedly shown she has less knowledge of economics than I do (terrifying when she is an economics major). Then there’s the fact that, for a politician from New York, she has an appalling lack of knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. There’s more but, damn, the woman is a mess and yet she is now the media’s darling. As for the Democratic Party, she presents a huge issue for them. On the one hand, she is bringing in media attention that isn’t focusing on Hillary Clinton. On the other, she is out to defeat sitting Democrats across the nation, causing instability within the party, a party desperately trying to regain the majority in the mid-term elections and then the White House in the following election.
So where is our friend Bernie in all this? Well, he’s right there with her. They’ve been making appearances together, rallying the troops. He has become the senior statements of the socialist arm of the Democratic Party. Hell, he has become the sane one. I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry or run for the hills. But it does mean we should take another look at what Bernie has stood for and then, after that, what Ocasio-Cortez is saying and why we should be concerned.
Several months ago, I snarked commented on the preface to Bernie Sanders’ book, Our Revolution – A Future to Believe in. I thought, with so much attention going to Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders right now, I’d look back at Our Revolution and see if there is any substance in what Sanders and, by extension, Ocasio-Cortez have to say or if, as I suspect, they are all feelz and not much more.
I’ll admit, I managed to get to the second page of the first chapter of Our Revolution before I started laughing. Remember, this is supposed to be Bernie’s book on his form of revolution and how America needs him and those like him and how only they can build the right sort of future. In this first chapter, he writes about how, during the 2016 race, he returned to the neighborhood in New York he grew up in. There’s a description of how he and his family lived in a 3 ½ room rent controlled apartment. He lived there with his brother and parents for the first 18 years of his life.
So, all these years later, he returned. He couldn’t believe how small the apartment seemed. He couldn’t believe his family of four sat at a table and had dinner there. Oh, and the building was sooo much more dingy than he remembered.
I’ll admit it. That’s where I had to put my tablet down and laugh. The thought of this rich socialist – and isn’t that a contradiction in terms? – having a hard time believing he grew up in such a small apartment tickled me. Of course, the apartment seemed small compared to the large homes (dare we say mansions?) Bernie and Mrs. Bernie live in now. Besides, how many of us haven’t experienced something similar as adults when we’ve revisited a place from our childhoods? Something that seemed huge to us as a kid looks very different through our adult eyes.
But where I lost it was on the “more dingy” comment about the building. Of course, it looked dingier. The building was 57 years older than the last time Bernie lived there. Unless it had undergone a major renovation and gentrification, just the passage of time would make it look dingier. But Bernie apparently didn’t consider that.
He goes on to discuss how being Jewish and learning about the Holocaust had a huge impact on him.
No question about it. Being Jewish. The loss of family, including children my own age, in the Holocaust. The rise to power of a right-wing lunatic in a free election in Germany. A war that killed 50 million people, including more than one-third of all Jews on the planet. All of this had an indelible impact upon my life and thinking. (OR, pp 8-9)
Now, here is the first place since the introduction where I wanted to wall my tablet. Sanders, like so many liberals today, conflates being “right-wing” with Nazism. How many times have we seen this same sort of thing on social media, aimed at Trump or others simply because they are conservative or aren’t walking in lock-step with the liberals? As Bill Flax pointed out in Forbes:
Very little of Hitler’s domestic activity was even remotely right wing. Europe views Left and Right differently, but here, free markets, limited constitutional government, family, church and tradition are the bedrocks of conservatism. The Nazis had a planned economy; eradicated federalism in favor of centralized government; considered church and family as competitors; and disavowed tradition wishing to restore Germany’s pre-Christian roots.
There’s more. Bernie describes growing up. His parents weren’t political but always voted Democrat. His brother is the one who brought politics into the home when, as a student at Brooklyn College, he joined the Young Democrats and campaigned for Stevenson in 1956. After a paragraph or two about how he was so glad his brother could join him on the campaign trail during his presidential bid, Bernie bounces back to his childhood (have I mentioned that reading this book is like watching a tennis match? You are in the present and then in the past and then at another point in time without transition or warning. I may get whiplash before this is over).
While they weren’t poor growing up, there wasn’t much discretionary income. Money was often a point of contention in the Sanders household. “Painful arguments. Bitter arguments. Arguments that seared through a little boy’s brain, never to be forgotten.” (OR, p. 10) This is when I put on my best Ann Richards’ voice and say, “Poor Bernie”. What child doesn’t have memories of at least once when they heard their parents argue and knew things were going to Hell in a handbasket? My parents rarely argued where I could hear it. The one time they did, I knew it meant they were going to get divorced. They didn’t. In fact, they had a healthy marriage and continued to do so until the day my father died.
His total lack of acknowledging the things that apparently scarred him aren’t anything unusual – or unreasonable – drives me crazy.
How much money your family had determined the quality of your baseball glove, which brand of sneakers you wore, and what kind of car your father drove. (OR, p. 10)
How many of us, no matter what our income, have had the discussion with our kids – or our parents – about not being able to afford something that little Johnny down the road has (or why Johnny might not have something we do)? Not everyone makes the same money and not everyone places the same importance on things the way you do. But having to shop for bargains seems to have scarred poor old Bernie. Being fiscally responsible so damaged him, he apparently had only one option – turn into a Socialist and a good one at that because he has plenty of money, more than he really needs, which he holds onto even as he tells the rest of us we need to give, give, give to even the playing field for everyone else.
What I learned playing on the streets and playgrounds of Brooklyn was not just how to become a decent ballplayer and athlete. I learned a profound lesson about democracy and self-rule. (OR, p. 11)
He goes on to describe how, without adult supervision, he and his pals played in the streets or on the playgrounds. They figured out what to play, what the rules were, and worked out their problems. What he doesn’t talk about was how they were a small number of kids having to come to a decision. He doesn’t take into account how the more people involved, the greater the stakes, the more conflict will arise. There is a reason why the great socialist experiment has yet to be successful. Human nature will win out every time and, like it or not, that includes greed, self-interest and more.
In another of those tennis match-like moments in the chapter, Bernie writes about how, at the age of 19, he left New York for Chicago. His mother died a few months earlier and he was going to attend the University of Chicago. Now, finally, we get an explanation for why his father had been so frugal when Bernie and his brother were growing up. Why Bernie waited until now to tell us, I don’t know. I can guess. If he told us back when he wrote about how these money arguments had such a negative effect on him, he’d have lost the impact and we’d all have pointed and laughed.
My dad had dropped out of school at the age of sixteen in Poland. Having lived through the Depression, he worried a lot about money and making a living. (OR, p. 16)
Of course, Mr. Sanders worried about money. Of course, he didn’t want his wife or his sons spending on things they didn’t need. He had a reason. How many men and women who lived through the Depression didn’t react the same way? But, had Bernie added that bit in earlier, it would have lessened the impact and changed the narrative and we must never, ever change the narrative.
He spends the next 10 pages or so describing his time at the University of Chicago. He read. He ran. He got involved in political movements and fighting racism. He got married. He and his wife bought 85 acres of woodland in Vermont and build a “nice outhouse”. He approved of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where Hillary’s “What Happened” needed an editor, this book really needs one. It is truly a flow of consciousness piece of – well, I’m not sure what. Perhaps as an audio book it is better than it is in print. If you imagine Bernie reading it to you, it might not be as bad. All I can say so far is I’m not impressed. We’re more than 25 pages into the book and I have yet to know why he ran for president, what this so-called revolution is or why it is a future to believe in. The only thing I can say is there is snark-worthy material here.
(As an aside, I will return to the Sowell essays but life is such right now that I need snark when I can get it. It is also why this post is a day late. Stuff has been happening to completely throw me off-schedule and I didn’t realize yesterday was Thursday until Sarah pinged me. So, apologies to you and to her and I promise to get back on schedule next week. – ASG)
Help Amanda drink enough to keep snarking. We’ll collect for her liver transplant later.
Hit her Pourboir jar now!