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Bernie's One Last Chance: Unleash the Inner Socialist!

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 18/03/2016 Cody Cain
ELECTION ADDRESS © korhan karacan via Getty Images ELECTION ADDRESS

Throughout his campaign, Bernie Sanders seems like he has been holding back.
It's like he has been afraid of the S-word: Socialism.
Sure, he has flirted with it, dabbled in it, and tiptoed around it. But he has not thrown down and gone all in with it.
No doubt, Bernie's fear of the S-word is for good reason. After all, most if not all of us associate "socialism" with being "bad," "un-American," and "against freedom." Boo, hiss!
Ever since the first "Red Scare" 100 years ago, we have been subjected to relentless campaigns to frighten us into believing that social movements to protect ordinary citizens, the workers, pose some sort of a radical threat to our free society.
Hm. It's funny how we could become so thoroughly convinced of something when that something is such a disadvantage to us while simultaneously being such a great advantage to the corporate ruling class promulgating it.
How in the world could we have fallen for that?
But Bernie must know all too well the potential backlash from proposing socialistic solutions. He has championed causes of protecting ordinary workers for decades now as what he calls a "democratic socialist." So we are not even talking about the kind of hearty socialism where the government owns the means of production, like the factories, farms, and banks. Not even close. We are only talking about a society that simply protects the working people against exploitation by the vast power of the corporate ruling class. It's like "socialism lite." Actually, it's more like democracy than socialism.
Just as the notion of any sort of socialism has been beaten out of us, the notion must also have been beaten out of Bernie that any sort of a socialist, even a lite democratic socialist, could ever be elected president.
So Bernie backed-off. He only put one toe into the water. He did not really provide us with a grand vision and a big solution to our problems.
Now, Bernie's candidacy is in trouble. His opponent Hillary Clinton has won 18 primary states compared to only 9 states for Bernie, and the pundits are chattering that Hillary has pulled so far ahead that Bernie may not be able to catch her.
So Bernie is on his last leg here. If he does not shake things up with his campaign right now, then it's curtains for Bernie. His noble candidacy is about to be swept into the dustbin of history, never to be heard from again.
So c'mon Bernie! Don't give up yet! Make one last stand! Give it one last push! It's worth a shot!
In fact, there is one last thing that Bernie could attempt to keep his candidacy alive, and maybe even turn it around. And that is that Bernie could let loose!
He could stop holding back and instead allow his inner democratic socialist to burst free into the open and sing his heart song for all to hear.
And there is a real opportunity here.
Bernie ignited an explosive movement all across this nation with his candidacy. He put his finger directly on the pulse of America with his focus on the biggest issue of our time, namely, income inequality. This catapulted Bernie out of obscurity and onto the national stage to suddenly become a real competitor to the dominant political machine of Hillary Clinton.
This same widespread discontent among the middle and lower classes is what also catapulted Donald Trump to prominence on the Republican side. People all across the land are suffering from the disastrous effects of income inequality and they are desperate to find a candidate who will ease the burden.
Bernie took-off like a rocket because he addressed income inequality openly and directly. And people responded.
But the problem with Bernie is that he stopped short. He gave people only the first half of the loaf. He addressed the defining issue of income inequality, yes, but he failed to follow through with the second half of the loaf by proposing any meaningful solutions. So as a result, he left people high and dry, and they lost confidence that he could actually deliver results.
But it's not too late. The truth is that no candidate of either party has offered a real solution to income inequality. Some people support Trump because with no other option for a real solution, they might as well let this billionaire tyrant give it a try. And others support Hillary because with no promising proposal from a challenger, they might as well just stick with the established insider. But, amazingly, the majority of the population is not inspired by either frontrunner of their parties, Trump or Hillary.
So if any candidate from any party were to suddenly offer a viable solution to income inequality, this candidate would immediately be swept onto a real path to victory.
This leaves Bernie with one last chance. He could come out and start vigorously advocating for a socialistic solution to income inequality.
Even though people may still be afraid of socialism, it is clear that socialism does indeed offer a very real solution for fixing income inequality. This would introduce a new element into the discourse. This would be the first time that the voters would actually hear a real solution, and this solution is clear, simple, and one that people would instantly understand.
Sure, Bernie would be mercilessly attacked with the S-word. But he could attack right back with the C-word. Capitalism.
And in this climate of economic suffering, it is quite possible that the C-word might actually have become more scary to Americans than the S-word.
The simple and obvious truth is that capitalism is what caused this problem of income inequality in America. And under our current capitalist system, the problem will indeed continue to spiral us downward. This is clear. People understand this on a very visceral level.
America cannot compete with low-cost labor around the world. It's as simple as that. Vietnam provides labor at 65 cents an hour. We cannot compete against that. Period. Case closed. End of story. And more and more countries are becoming available locations for this sort of cheap labor. We are experiencing the globalization of capitalism. It is the inevitable future, and we cannot stop it.
If Bernie sings this tune, people will understand it instantly.
Neither Trump nor Hillary is offering a realistic solution to this problem. Trump says he will bring back jobs to America from these foreign countries. Yeah right. This obviously will not work.
Even if Trump were to magically force companies to manufacture everything in America, which, of course, he cannot do and will not do, no one would buy the American products anyway because they would be so much more expensive than the equivalent cheaper products made by foreign competitors and shipped into America.
And simply shutting down trade with the rest of the world and trying to make all products in America is obviously not an option.
Hillary's solution is no better. She opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Big whoop. Opposing this trade agreement will not improve anything inside America. Vietnam will still provide its cheap labor at 65 cents an hour, and the rest of the world will make products there that Americans will want to buy. Closing our eyes to reality will not solve the problem.
Bernie could blast Trump and Hillary for their worthless positions, and people would understand this immediately.
Bernie could then articulate how a more socialistic approach would, in fact, solve the problem.
Sure, we would go ahead and allow American corporations to continue shifting manufacturing jobs out of America to overseas locations to utilize the cheap foreign labor. This would enable American companies to compete on a global basis.
But then, America would enact policies internally that would prevent all of the cost savings to flow into the pockets of the top corporate executives and shareholders. Instead, these profits would be required to be shared more equally among the middle and lower classes throughout America, including those Americans who lost their jobs to cheap labor overseas.
The idea is simple: Spread the wealth more fairly.
This sharing could be achieved in all sorts of ways. The middle and lower classes could receive subsidized or even free healthcare, housing, daycare, utilities, and on and on, to lower their cost of living. If we open ourselves up to sharing the wealth, the possibilities become endless for creating a more fair, free, and secure society for everyone.
It would still be possible to become rich in America. No problem. But not until the middle and lower classes are adequately provided for.
People before profits.
So Bernie should let loose, swing for the fences, and begin advocating for this solution. It is understandable why he previously held back, but at this point, his campaign is heading off into the sunset anyway so he has absolutely nothing to lose. And he has everything to gain because people might just be ready now for this sort of solution, and it might just catch-on like wildfire.
Talk about feeling the Bern!
But if Bernie does not at least propose this choice to the American people, well, then, we will never know.

(This piece is jointly published with Salon.com at this link.)

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