The Bloom Is Off the Bloomberg, and the Bern Catches Fire

“The best way to take our country back is by taking it forward.” — Swami Beyondananda

It should be obvious to anyone not strung out on Hopium or Deniatol that Donald Trump is a conman mobster-wannabe who has set himself up as bigger than any law, and that he’s been emboldened by the impeachment “acquittal” to make himself America’s first dictator.

So the top priority for the “sane and reverent” majority in 2020 is to “de-elect the misleader” and the “Vichy Republican” Senators who have enabled him, and do it with such an overwhelming majority that he not only loses the election, but loses his enablers in the Senate and Supreme Court as they recognize Tyrantosaurus Wrecks is going down, and they need to jump ship to save themselves.

In the midst of the understandable urgency, the DNC and neoliberal corporatist wing of the Democratic Party have been touting the need for a “moderate” to defeat Donald Trump. With Joe Biden running a “flailing” campaign (until South Carolina at least), they’ve thrown us Amy and Mayor Pete (both now out if the mix), and now the latest savior, Mike Bloomberg who seems to be proving the Beatles prophetic: Money can’t buy you love — or for that matter, even “like”.

Meanwhile Bernie surges because — well, because he actually stands for something. And because he has done what no other Democratic candidate has done — built a movement. That’s why Donald Trump fears Bernie’s minions more than Bloomberg’s billions. It was, after all, a movement of dedicated voters that helped Trump topple the neocons that the Republican establishment put in his way.

And that insurgent power of focused and committed voters (aided, of course, by the big pockets of all the industries Trumpism now benefits, not to mention Cambridge Analytics) toppled Hillary as well. Yes, she got the popular vote, but she lost the key industrial states of Michigan and Ohio.

In his incisive 2016 election post-mortem, MIT’s Otto Scharmer wrote:

“The economic and political divides result from massive institutional failures. As the rate of institutional and systemic failure increases, we see citizens and leaders respond in one of the following three ways:

Muddling through: same old, same old.

Moving back: let’s build a wall between us and them.

Moving forward: lean in to what wants to emerge — empathize and build architectures of collaboration rather than architectures of separation.

What was the problem in this election? Hillary was the muddler; Donald was the wall builder. But there was no one in the third category.”

Except there was someone in that third category — Bernie Sanders. And, as Scharmer points out, Bernie would have likely beat Trump. And he would today as well.

Ah, but Bernie is too divisive … a socialist … an angry old man banging away on one note … blah, blah, blah.

And … at a time when 40% of Americans are a paycheck away from economic disaster, where medical bills have crippled the aging, and student debt enslaved the young, Bernie is running on a platform of economic justice and universal health care. (Think it’s unaffordable? Then watch John Oliver’s brilliant analysis here.)

Climate change and standing up to the fossil fuel companies? Bernie is there too. And that means something to those who will have to live in the world this century — the young voters who support Bernie and will come out in droves to vote for him.

The neoliberal establishment has used the failed brand “vote for us, we’re not as bad as the other guys” to our detriment, and it was this lack of vision and lack of courage that helped put Trump in the White House. And now they are insisting that only they can stop him?

The truth seems to be quite the opposite. In a recent post Middle East expert Stephen Zunes writes: “Polls also show Sanders has more support among independent voters than any other Democrat and is running better than most Democrats in key swing states.” Last week, Marianne Williamson announced her endorsement of Bernie saying, “It’s time for us to take a stand with Bernie.”

And here is where we come to what will be the turning point in the primaries. The “moderate” candidates are running against Donald Trump; Bernie Sanders is running FOR the American people, with a platform that has the potential to rebalance some of the most toxic imbalances in our political system — and the economic disparities that caused some Obama voters to turn away from Hillary and toward Trump.

Regardless of which Democratic candidate ultimately wins the nomination, the Democrats will be faced with the challenge of bringing the two sides — which might as well be two different parties — together in common purpose, not just to defeat Trump but to provide a compelling vision for moving forward.

And the key is “moving forward.” There is no return to the pre-Trump order, sorry. If there is any higher purpose to the Trump phenomenon, it was to liberate us from neoliberalism, the faux progressivism that cloaked the empire in nice-sounding platitudes so that we didn’t notice that Obama’s foreign policy was not that different from Bush-Cheney.

This unifying theme must draw a sharp contrast with Trumpism AND — most important — show us a way of moving forward together. Here again, Otto Scharmer makes the key distinction: Build architectures of collaboration rather than architectures of separation.

The “architecture of separation” — typified by Trump, but reinforced by corporate media — is designed to manipulate people into polarization and enmity. The solution however is not one big “kumbaya” that glosses over our real problems and reinstates the status quo. It means cultivating a “radical middle” willing to come together to tell inconvenient truths, and then collaborate and cooperate to find real solutions.

The “architecture of collaboration” exists in plain sight, but has not been cultivated or utilized. It exists in the works of pioneers like Tom Atlee (The Tao of Democracy), and Jim Rough (Wisdom Councils) that indicate that, when put into the proper environment ordinary citizens are capable of collectively emerging with uncommon wisdom.

What if citizens from all sides were brought together in conversations about purpose and policies, and we created what Richard Lang calls an “ecosystem for civic engagement”? What if we had a National Town Square where every citizen had a verifiable, authenticated, advisory vote on any and all issues, so that our elected officials could see clearly the will of the people?

And, what if the “Democratic” Party stayed true to its name and helped restore the missing element in “government of, by, and for the people” — THE PEOPLE?

For an even more practical application of “architecture of collaboration”, consider Bernie’s first acts as “socialist” mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the early 1980s. Thwarted by the establishment during his first two-year term, once re-elected he garnered the support of local Republicans and business leaders to create the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) “to carry out his vision for more affordable housing, more locally owned small businesses, greater community engagement in planning, and job development.”

Bottom line, the issue isn’t so much “socialism” but “antisocialism” — the sociopathic disease that has overtaken the Republican Party, and for all intents and purposes, the republic. And therein lies the distinction that separates Trumpism from the rest of us: the dominator model vs. the partnership model. The idea that unifies Democratic voters, whether they find themselves on the Bernie wing or the “moderate” wing is the recognition that survival and thrival in this century is “moving forward together” rather than hunkering in the fear-based bunker of “dominate-or-be-dominated.”

At the heart and soul of the Democratic Party constituency is the vibration of justice. In contrast, the self-serving xenophobic Trumpism wants America to work for “just us.”

The left over saying from the late 20th century is “follow the money.” Well, we see where the money has led us. If we seek to counterbalance the unchecked and unbalanced power of money, we must “follow the energy.” The Bernie wing is the VITAL wing of the Democratic Party, and represents the future if we are to have any. Bernie has raised our sights, and inspired an otherwise uninspired generation to imagine new possibilities. The Democratic Party can ride this energetic wave to “impossible” victory in November. May we choose wisely.

Steve Bhaerman is an internationally known author, humorist, and workshop leader.