Wishful thinking can come in many shapes and sizes, but history and present reality do readily tell us that Bernie Sanders is more likely to walk among us during the early stage of the presidential campaign as a prophet than as a messiah. And that is not such a bad thing, for martyrdom always seems to take place as precursor to major change; and this resolute honest New Yorker representing Vermont appears poised to bring inspirational change in the much-needed political transformation of American society.
Yes; Americans, both the destitute and the destitute-in-waiting middle class do need a champion to forever improve their lives, or at least one to light up their torch of hope. But the senator from Vermont isn’t likely to become that champion, becoming instead the prophet heralding the advent of a savior for America’s democracy, national dignity and pride; in Christian-speak, Bernie is not a Jesus but a John the Baptist.
America’s self-serving corporate press is making hay of what they claim to be an uprising of the anti-establishment citizenry from both the Right and the Left. In its oversimplified and questionable wisdom, the press is equating the increase in Donald Trump’s poll numbers with the ballooning, commanding crowds attracted by Bernie Sanders. It does appear, however, that for obvious reasons the media is using a concave mirror to reflect the pompous Trump while using a convex mirror to depict angry, but smaller than life, Bernie Sanders. In fact, the media is giving Mr. Trump an unmerited free ride worth tens of millions, perhaps more.
And the press does not appear to be alone in that assessment. Many politicians and other parasites of the body politic are maturing in the belief of a new universal Big Bang theory: one which proclaims people might no longer be as tolerant of an ineffective Washington where the people’s business gets queued last.
Even the self-proclaimed leader of those who presumably make up the ranks of political independents in America, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, categorizes these two current followings, Trump’s and Bernie’s, simply as replicas in dissatisfaction to the crowd which propelled him to the governor’s mansion in St. Paul back in 1998.
But the populist and colorful former Navy SEAL, professional wrestler and governor, who would love to be asked to cast a new political career with Trump (as suggested by his jabs at Jeb Bush on the Cuban-Dominican cigars—remindful of a Seinfeld TV episode) could not be more wrong: Bernie Sanders’ crowds, and those attracted by Donald Trump, may both be fueled by discontent but have totally different political DNAs.
While populist causes manifested in third parties, or independent campaigns, have at times reached moderate success—most recently with George Wallace in 1968, John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996—Bernie Sanders’s crowd is quite different from them. It is a larger, much larger, reenactment of the progressive wing of the Tweedledee Democratic Party . . . until Ralph Nader broke away from the sempiternal submission by progressives to give up their ideals and conform to “the lesser of two evils” in 2000, accepting the candidacy for the Green Party, and an eventual blame for Al Gore’s loss. (The blame, if one must be found, should clearly reside in the United States Supreme Court that, undemocratically, handed over the presidency to George W. Bush.)
Could Americans bestow presidential honors on such a comical self-bemedaled business provocateur? Is the American electorate so fed up with the state of the body politic that instead of resorting to a good old revolution, they would opt, instead, to seat this character, Trump, in the White House’s Oval Office?
Donald Trump would not have been a likely a character worthy to be chronicled by Horatio Alger . . . not in an iconic, positive way. Questionably a business wizard, if his “deals” were to be analyzed in depth, yet a promoter in the American tradition with better luck than most. His audacity to crown himself with unmerited fame and glory surpasses pomposity and reaches the realm of clownish ridicule. And if many Americans feel amused by his contempt for humility and use of wrestling-world antics, perhaps they should not be and, instead, take a pause and reflect on the sad reality that the United States of America is not governed under the auspices of Lincoln’s democracy . . . but the tentacles of this type of celebratory oligarchy.
This Trump-virus is not likely to persist for very long, but his damage to the Republican Party will remain undeletable . . . today’s version of India ink.
As for Bernie; well, he is on target pointing our big problem as one of economic class struggle, but Americans aren’t quite ready for a second American revolution; no, not yet. And failing to adequately acknowledge cultural and racial diversity in American society, or the need to achieve compromise and peace in the world, prevent Bernie from achieving messianic status. (His time spent in an Israeli kibbutz likely did enhance his understanding of democracy, but prejudiced his attitude for compromise.)
If only in his status as a prophet, Bernie Sanders could bring to the presidential stage the candidacy of America’s true messiah: Senator Elizabeth Warren!
© 2015 Ben Tanosborn
Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at email@example.com.