Not only have crowds been streaming into arenas all around the country to hear Bernie Sanders’ fact-studded speeches, but ordinary Americans have also been pitching in small donations (averaging only $23 each) to self-finance a viable, multimillion-dollar presidential campaign that can go the distance.
In Bernie’s campaign, grassroots people themselves are taking charge — not leaving it to establishment officeholders and party operatives to do the same old thing. Sure, many progressive old-timers are drawn to Bernie’s maverick run, but the driving force is coming from two encouraging sources: 1) An emerging rainbow of young people disgusted by the greed and pettiness of today’s “leaders,” who are de-structing American democracy into a plutocracy that callously sweeps the needs of the declining middle class, the poor, the planet and the common good under the rug; and 2) a potentially game-changing group of working class mad-as-hellers who had disengaged from a governing system that has deliberately ignored working stiffs or, worse, cynically used them as political pawns to be demonized and disempowered.
Sanders’ populist surge appeals to a wide range of free-thinking, truth-seeking voters, but they’re being warned by the Democratic hierarchy that the only way to defeat the horror of a Trump-Cruz presidency is to set aside our populist idealism this year and stick with Obama-style, don’t-rock-the-corporate-boat liberalism that merely tweaks the status quo. That’s not exactly a turn-on for the majority of people fed up with business-as-usual politics — which is why so many Americans are hitching their populist hopes to Sanders’ people-powered movement.
After all, as a farmer once told me, status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” Forget just tweaking our broken system — we need transformative change that empowers grassroots people over corporate oligarchs.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.