VIEW FROM HERE-I'm a Bernie guy. I think that Sanders has been, over the past three years, a transcendent political force in American politics.
I voted for him in 2016, and I still believe that he would have beaten Donald Trump if he had been chosen as the Democratic candidate. In 2016 his message of political revolution resonated with tens of millions of voters from every walk of life. When he said, "What my campaign is about is a political revolution -- millions of people standing up and saying, enough is enough. Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the hand full of billionaires," people were ready to not only hear it as a call to action but to actually go out and act!
When Sanders said, "We have got to change the political culture in America. We need a political revolution. That means we are working on politics not just three weeks before an election but 365 days a year," the general electorate was primed to rise up and do what Sanders believed was necessary.
Skip ahead three years. Can anyone make the argument that the majority of Americans agree with Mr. Sanders that we are in need of a political revolution? That's certainly not the vibe I am getting. And I bet if the Sanders campaign polled a broad cross-section of American voters, less than 50% would say that they believe in a political revolution.
Again, this is coming from a huge supporter of Bernie Sanders. I agree almost wholeheartedly with his platform: Investment in green technology, small businesses, and farmers, holding financial institutions accountable, advocating for criminal justice reform, championing healthcare as a human right, striving for free college and student loan debt relief, and ending wars of adventure in the Middle East are just a few of the issues that Sanders has stood up for his entire life. In my mind, he is probably the most influential Socialist Democrat in our nation's history after Eugene Debs.
But "political revolution" in 2020 may not be an effective message. Obviously, it is polarizing and presents a great risk in a general election. Most Americans agree with Sanders when he makes his case, but they do not see what he is calling for in revolutionary terms. When asked the right way, they would say that making bridges safe and using energy wisely is not revolutionary; it is just common sense. Just as providing citizens with affordable and reliable health care is not revolutionary; it is a basic necessity that ensures the survival of a nation. And not wasting trillions of dollars on destructive wars is not revolutionary; on the contrary, it is an act of temperance and justice.
I disagree with Sanders. The majority of Americans are not calling for a revolution. The country, by and large, does not want more chaos, confusion, upheaval, and disruption. They have seen enough of that over the past three years to last a lifetime. The American people want policies that make sense and a leader who knows how to act with a moral compass. They are starving for rationality rather than revolution.
Sanders’ delivery too often comes across as bombastic, overly hostile, and simply too extreme for most voters to get behind, and these are voters who otherwise agree entirely with his ideas.
Of all the democrats running this year, I think Elizabeth Warren is the one who can take Bernie's message and make it palatable to a wider swath of the general electorate. She is tenaciously smart, well-positioned to speak authoritatively about the economy (Trump's biggest strength) and in tune with the objectives of the #MeToo Movement. If Trump wants to make his campaign about her DNA and his image of her as Pocahontas, then he is in serious trouble. She has been underestimated her entire life, and, faced with major obstacles, has relentlessly clawed herself to where she is now. If Trump treats Warren lightly, she will deal him a heavy blow indeed.
Still, Sanders is right. He always has been. Revolutions are sometimes necessary. John F. Kennedy once said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
But now is not the time for such rhetoric. Warren gets it. What the American people want is something more radical than a revolution. What they want is good governance, peace, and stability in their neighborhoods, quality education for themselves and their children, and the opportunity to pursue happiness. That's not a revolutionary idea anymore. A war was fought more than two hundred years ago to make sure that these inalienable rights would never be taken for granted again.
That's why I am voting for Elizabeth Warren. It's Sander's message in a voice that can be heard by those who need to be convinced. No sense in preaching to a fanatic base. Who can reach out and persuade moderates and independents? Is it Sanders or Warren? I say, this time around, it has to be Warren.
(George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, social justice activist, and domestic violence counselor. He is a CityWatch contributor.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.