The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
The political left in America is being misled by a Presbyterian minister named Chris Hedges, who writes for the leftist blog Truthdig.
In a column published on Valentines Day, this self-described socialist attacks Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Why? Because Sanders had the gall to run as a Democrat.
“Bernie Sanders, who has attracted numerous young, white, college-educated supporters in his bid for the presidency, says he is creating a movement and promises a political revolution. This rhetoric is an updated version of the ‘change’ promised by the 2008 campaign of Barack Obama and by Jesse Jackson’s earlier National Rainbow Coalition. Such Democratic electoral campaigns, at best, raise political consciousness. But they do not become movements or engender revolutions. They exist as long as election campaigns endure and then they vanish. Sanders’ campaign will be no different.”
“No movement or political revolution will ever be built within the confines of the Democratic Party,” Hedges drones on, with no in-depth understanding of American political history, the two-party system and other attempted third party movements in the United States. “And the repeated failure of the American left to grasp the duplicitous game being played by the political elites has effectively neutered it as a political force. History, after all, should count for something.”
Yes, history should count for something. You just need to have an education in American history and an understanding of how it has evolved over time. You need a liberal arts education to understand that, not a religion degree from divinity school — even if it is a public university and not the Ivy League.
Let me suggest that Mr. Hedges take the time to read a little Karl Popper on the two-party system, for starters.
He might also consider how the Christian conservatives took over the Republican Party in the 1980s and rewrote the platform. I advised progressive Democrats to do that 10 years ago in Birmingham. They just shrugged. I also advised the Progressive Democrats of America to urge Bernie Sanders to run as a Democrat, not an independent socialist. That happened. It is a good thing.
On a Wikipedia page devoted to Mr. Hedges, he claims to have been an early critic of the Iraq War. But not in the mainstream newspaper he wrote for at the time, The New York Times. In May 2003, Hedges delivered a commencement address at Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois, saying: “We are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige and power and security.” His speech was received with boos and his microphone was shut off three minutes after he began speaking.
Times management criticized his statements and issued him a formal reprimand for “public remarks that could undermine public trust in the paper’s impartiality.” Not long after that he left the paper. It is not clear whether he was fired or quit, but he went on to teach his Presbyterian philosophy in New Jersey prisons.
His columns are often so far to the left that he might as well move to Russia to hang out with Ed Snowden, or maybe to Canada where his wife is from. He clearly does not understand American democracy.
He even wrote a column after the Paris Climate talks claiming the summit will fail, so why try, right? Let’s just wait for the Christian apocalypse, eh?
Better yet, let’s give Bernie Sanders political revolution a chance. If his progressive message against unbridled corporate power can take hold in the country, especially among young Democrats, we might be able to inch America back from the brink of disastrous run amok corporate capitalism.
An independent third party candidacy by Bernie Sanders would have led to nothing. He would not have gained any where near this much attention or raised this kind of money for a campaign that has been amazing in its ability to change the debate.
Now if we could just get the talking heads on public television, who seem to all support the mainstream moderate campaign of Hillary Clinton, to ask the real questions that need to be asked instead of those fed to them by the Koch brothers that seem to come right off of Fox News. It is supposed to be non-profit educational television, after all. So why do they have to appear to be so “fair and balanced” like for profit media?
Here’s a clue. Instead of asking Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to answer the question of what Sanders’ proposed policies would do to the size of government, shouldn’t someone ask somebody in this campaign if there are too few corporations now too big to fail? Should we not be using the United States Department of Justice to break up some of these monopolies and reduce the concentration of corporate power?
This issue is not the size of the federal government. That’s Ronald Reagan’s line. The issue is that the U.S. economy is not working for working people. Corporate policy over the past 35 years has been bad for the American worker, the American family, and bad for the country.
Where is the reporter who will ask about that? Where is the candidate who will talk about that?
I am the reporter. Sanders is the candidate.
Hedges needs to get his head out of the bible and Karl Marx and visit the real world now and then. He should make a contribution to the Bernie Sanders campaign and maybe listen to Noam Chomsky, who has been quoted at length saying Sanders is good for the Democratic Party and the country.
I wonder how Hedges will feel about a Hillary Clinton presidency? What about Jeb Bush? Donald Trump? Ted Cruz? We could do far worse than Bernie Sanders as a Democrat. Perhaps the American left needs to read the New American Journal, not Truthdig.
Interestingly, as Hedges did, I also worked for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times and I tried to tell the Times national editor and the executive editor the move to war was based on a conservative think tank study. It was published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the only news organization in America to run it. The Times management listened to Judith Miller instead. I am also a fellow with The Nation Institute.
And I have a book out on American democracy.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.