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Bernie Sanders Probably Isn't Running for President to Win

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/11/2015 Deborah Foster

Have you heard of the Overton window? Basically, it represents the range of ideas that the public will accept as reasonable. The Overton window is frequently manipulated by powerful forces like wealthy media moguls (e.g. Rupert Murdoch), organized movements (e.g. Operation Rescue), or manufactured indoctrination (e.g. the cult of Ronald Reagan).
In the United States, the Overton window has been pushed by powerful, wealthy and conservative (racist, theocratic and war profiteering) individuals to the far right since 1980 following a movement by conservatives that is detailed in the book, Suburban Warriors by Lisa McGirr.
Starting in Orange County, California, and peppered throughout the U.S., conservative Americans met in churches, homes, and restaurant basements from the 1960s on to plan how the country could be moved back to the far conservative right, after having a period of liberalism brought on by the Supreme Court in the wake of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. They were also still angry from the passage of the New Deal. The rise of right wing politicians like Ronald Reagan from California were a product of this movement.
The right wing movement included a four-pronged approach. First, they scared people with the menace of socialism and communism, beginning at the end of World War II and lasting over 45 years, until it became unsustainable after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Second, they presented the mass migration of African Americans from the South during the 1950s and 1960s as a source of threat to white people. Then, with the arrival of Reagan in the White House, the right wing began to dismantle corporate capitalism, morphing it into the financial capitalism we're suffering under now. Last, they courted the evangelical population by fanning the flames of social issues like abortion, welfare and gay rights.
These tactics were incredibly successful. Taking my hometown of Waterloo, Iowa as an example, the progressive union United Packinghouse Workers of American Local 46 dominated the behemoth meat-packing plant in the city. The UPWA had given a stalwart interracial alliance of civil rights warriors a platform to combat injustice.
Teams of black and white union members challenged racist business owners with a strategy. Black union members went as customers into their local businesses. A few moments later, a large number of white union members went into the same business. When the black union members were refused services, the whole union would get up as a group, and leave, declaring that the white union members wouldn't be back either. When this didn't work, they filed complaints with the city and alerted the media.
Because of the multiple anti racism discrimination complaints filed by Local 46 and the UPWA union throughout the 1950s and '60s, they were investigated for being communist during the 1950s, nearly losing their certification as a union. Accusers cited the interracial coalitions within the union as evidence. It was this sort of behavior the right wing movement wanted to squelch.
2015-10-27-1445981871-5463982-ScreenShot20130120at4.13.10PM.png © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-27-1445981871-5463982-ScreenShot20130120at4.13.10PM.png United Packing House Workers of America Logo
The UPWA Local 46 did not stop being a thorn in the side of white people in the City of Waterloo. They were signficantly responsible for fair housing, fair employment, and desegregation policies being pushed through a reluctant city council and school board. They also gave their employer, Rath Packing Company, a lot of trouble by asserting themselves as a union on a regular basis, stopping production though wild cat strikes until a discrimination complaint was resolved, for example.
When Rath Packing Company closed its doors in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at the same time John Deere laid off 8,000 people in town, black people lost their jobs in the blink of an eye. Local 46 was gone. In its place, a 24 percent unemployment rate for African Americans. A city named 10th worst in the country for African Americans by journalists at 24/7 Wall Street.
Workers are not likely to rise up in the era of financial capitalism when buyouts, leverages, and mergers have created mega-corporations whose power over labor is extreme. Historian, Stephen Fraser, author of "The Age of Acquiescence," discusses today's financial capitalism with Bill Moyers on PBS:

In the '80s, there emerges on the American scene a kind of renegade, seadog capitalist at war with capitalism on behalf of capitalism... They went to war against what they thought of as the ossified, sclerotic, corporate bureaucracy responsible for the economy's stagnation and inability to compete abroad. They began to systemically dismantle the industrial edifice, those leveraged buyouts of the '90s, etc. They began to dismantle that whole industrial order in order to support a new financial order, the kind of dominant financial economy we live in today.

Industrial capitalism versus financial capitalism is described well by Michael Hudson:
At least the old industrial capitalists made their profits by building factories and investing in capital equipment to employ wage-labor to produce products and services...The new objective is to recycle the economy's savings into real estate and the stock market to bid up land and equity prices, not to create new assets. In the stock market, capital gains are achieved by down-sizing the labor force and scaling back production so as to squeeze out more revenue rather than seeking to expand market share by undertaking new direct investment.

In this way, big business, finance, and banking have become exceptionally dominant in the economy. Their economic power has allowed them to write rules in Congress which benefit them, frequently at the expense of the average citizen. This form of capitalism is savage and Darwinian, because it relies on draining consumers or average citizens of all of their funds while working in jobs with declining wages that they feel desperate to keep.
There was also the cultivation of white racism. Starting with massive protests against desegregation busing that led to white flight from the cities to the suburbs, white people have been trying to avoid living and learning with African American people. Tapping into additional sentiments of resentment about social programs with dog whistle politics, conservative politicians like Ronald Reagan talked about welfare queens or Mitt Romney talks about the 47 percent.
Finally, in the case of evangelizing the Christian Right, one of the creators of this group was Frank Schaeffer. His son, Frank Schaeffer, Jr. has detailed his father's pivotal role in creating an anti-abortion movement. Social issues like abortion and then LGBT policy became a mainstay of right wing power brokers.
All of these right wing trends were planned. Think tanks were created. Young politicians were nurtured. Republicans met weekly to plan takeovers of political seats ranging from school boards to President. I used to be a waitress for four years in a rural Iowa county, and during that time, I waited on our county Republican party every Wednesday while they had planning sessions. I inquired with the Democrats if they had something equivalent. They did not.
Therefore, the United States is currently pulled way over to the Far Right. The Overton Window has been dragged to such a place that democratic socialism like it is practiced in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark is seen as radical and something the United States would never emulate. It was not this way 100 years ago when democratic socialism was widely advocated by citizens. Because of this shift, Bernie Sanders is not seen as a viable candidate and his ideas are "too far-fetched."
Listening to Bernie Sanders discuss his ideas every Friday on Thom Hartmann's radio show program, called Brunch with Bernie for years, it seems obvious that Bernie intended to run for president for one reason. To push the Overton Window back to at least moderate, which would be like Germany or Japan. In his fantasies, of course, he would push the countries politics to the Left like in Sweden, Norway, or Finland. He would do this by serving in the role of Huey Long.
FDR was not always so liberal. He was once pretty moderate, willing to compromise with Republicans, corporations, the 1 percent, etc. However, he was pushed to the left by political opponents and their movements -- Huey Long, in particular. Long ran against FDR, and as a result we got the New Deal and Social Security. But there were other left wing candidate that pushed FDR to be more liberal, too.
2015-10-27-1445982323-1259377-download.jpe © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-27-1445982323-1259377-download.jpe Huey Long
Bernie Sanders's role is to push Clinton to the left. To push her to actually serve the people. Otherwise, she more than likely will not. And inequality will continue to increase as it has steadily done over the last 30 years. Because as great as President Obama was on some issues, he was pretty bad on inequality, and that came from continuing to appoint lobbyists to government positions and continuing other service to the wealthy.
Sanders needs to appear as though he can win the nomination with his policy ideas or his power to influence the election is weakened, but based on what he has communicated for years, I would be surprised if he even intends to stay in the race. His purpose is to get Hillary to do things like stop saying she is willing to cut Social Security. His influence has already no doubt led to her shift her opinion on the TPP and the Keystone Pipeline. Pushing the frontrunner to the left has to happen now, because it will not be happening when she is running for President. By then, her positions will have already been formed.
Liberals have shown a propensity to fear the democratic process, both in the last election and in this one. During the primary season, they feel they must have "the Candidate" locked up early so as to sell him or her to the public with a unified front for as long as possible. Conservatives show no such fear. They will dabble with their candidates until they have trained them to adopt just the policies they expect of them. This is one of the reasons Democratic politicians have been notorious for years for counting on their base without ever having to answer to it.
Let's shape policy, in this election, and in more to come, by forming a movement like the right wing did. Bernie Sanders wants it. He calls the movement a "political revolution."


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