Salve for the Bern

TortoiseReading time – 77 seconds; Viewing time – 2:37  .  .  .

I know you’re more than disappointed. You’re angry, disturbed, frustrated and wracked with despair. You know what’s wrong and you know what will fix it. You have a vision of how America should be and you want change from the hateful, harmful, even suicidal path we seem to be on. The urgency you feel is real and you want that change to happen right now. And the hope for reform that you invested in Bernie is dashed.

Well, buck up, Bubba, because true and lasting change takes time.

Gershom Gorenberg, writing for Moment Magazine about the disenchantment some have with Israel, has advice that applies to our society, our politics and our hopes that we placed in Bernie:

“I can best define despair in politics as unrealistic pessimism. History gives evidence that dedicated, organized people can bring about political change. The creation of Israel is, in fact, one example. The civil rights movement in America is another. I’m certain there were people who told Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham not merely to move slowly (we’ve all heard about that), but to give up hope: “Look, Reverend, Jim Crow is entrenched policy. America’s promises are a sham. Give it up.” King didn’t. To bring about political change, you need to keep two conflicting recognitions constantly in mind. One is that it’s urgent. It must happen today, because the situation is intolerable. The other is that transformations require a very long march.

“When you despair, you exempt yourself from the slog. Declaring that nothing can be done, you stop asking what you can do. You become an un-indicted co-conspirator in the status quo.”

The hare never wins the race. In the fight for reform, we must be the tortoise. Bernie’s campaign may be over, but the fight for reform goes on. So, one thing we tortoises can do is to vote on November 8 and encourage everyone we encounter to do the same.

Pass this along to other disappointed people youThe work goes on know – they’re feeling let down, too, and need your help to rekindle their flame of hope instead of giving up. That’s what you can do, because giving up is not an option.

Thanks go to Steve Sheffey for the Gorenberg quote.


Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

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4 Responses to Salve for the Bern
  1. Marilyn Curren Reply

    Sorry, I was for Bernie, but I am not angry, disturbed, frustrated or whacked. We have an excellent candidate. Now we need to encourage everyone to vote. Think Supreme Court if nothing else.

  2. John Calia Reply

    Your history lesson and advice to pursue any cause with tortoise-like persistence and patience is spot on. However, your example is wrong-headed and destructive. The so-called reforms proposed by Senator Sanders would destroy both the economic engine and cultural underpinnings that have made the US the most prosperous nation on the planet. Far from being forward-thinking, Sanders panders to the soft-headedness of the disaffected and undereducated youngsters who haven’t or won’t make good choices about their own lives and think that our government (and, by extension, we taxpayers) should bear the responsibility for their failings.

    Further, his proposals borrow from the 1930’s banking regulation and a 1960’s entitlement mentality. Far from being PROgressive; they are rather REgressive.

    We have suffered 35 years of the Religious Right endeavoring to impose its view of moral behavior on the other 2/3 of the nation. Now, we have the Religious Left trying to impose its moral view on 2/3 of the nation. If you’re in the middle third, it simply feels like you’re under attack.

    It is not the role of government to impose morality on the populace.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Thanks for your comments, John. Let me clear up just one thing.

      Few of us are satisfied with the status quo, yet I hear very little clarity about what it is that people want to create. You’re an expert in leadership, so, to put this in leadership terms, much of what we hear calls for implementing strategies without first deciding what it is we want to accomplish – the big picture – the vision. So,the first we need to do is to decide on our vision for America. And, no, the platitudes and bumper sticker slogans, the position statements and testosterone-fueled chest thumping we commonly hear don’t cut it for this exercise.

      After that we can go about deciding what we will do to achieve the agreed-upon desired results, whether it’s 1930s banking regulations, an unfettered free market economy or something in between.

      So, my call today is to encourage people who are discouraged (as we all are at times), to help them be clear that giving up on making things better isn’t okay. We are called upon to engage and voting is a really good way to do that.

      That feeling of being under attack that you mention – do you know anyone who doesn’t feel that way? I do not.

      • John Calia Reply

        I’ll resist the impulse to respond to your latest post until we finish with this topic. However, I would make note that you answered your own question with respect to vision. It was set 240 years ago in our founding documents. That vision called for a nation built on the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Government’s role is to ensure those rights.

        When your favorite candidate espouses our right to healthcare and a college education, he confuses rights with goods and services.

        Our rights correctly translate into a freedom agenda. Freedom of choice (including reproductive choice), freedom of expression and the free enterprise system. Government’s role in ensuring those rights correctly translates into the protection of equal opportunity. But opportunity doesn’t guarantee success. Our culture and economic system have fostered innovation and prosperity BECAUSE of the lack of that guarantee. and because those who are successful can enjoy the fruits of their labor.

        I am optimistic about our future to the extent that politicians do not continue to hamper the effect of the principles of economic freedom on which our prosperity is based.

        For the Sanders “reform” agenda to attract a following, he must first convince us that something is wrong with the free enterprise system (there isn’t) and then tell us who to blame. That’s how politicians get elected.

        Our university system is in a bubble just as housing was in the last decade and dot com stocks in the prior one. That bubble is inflated in part by the bottomless pit of government money that is available through the student loan system. The solution is not to make tuition free. It’s to cut off the supply of government money. Universities are free enterprise institutions. They’ll adjust to the market as will the matriculating students.

        While I am on the subject of college grads, I’ll point out the conflict between a proposed program that would educate more college students while cancelling trade agreements that would provide jobs for college grads. If Sanders followers understood what he was proposing, they would see this apparent fallacy. But that would require they get educated. Apparently their college degrees don’t require them to understand how their government and our economy work.

        Another made-up problem is income inequality. Incomes are unequal because output is unequal. Free choice leads to some people making mistakes. Why should government, and by extension taxpayers, bear responsibility for those unequal outcomes.

        Sanders takes this a step further with his tax proposals. If an entrepreneur, inventor or investor loses money (not to mention time and energy), he or she bears the cost of that failed effort. However, if he or she is wildly successful, Sanders would tax the gains at an extraordinarily high rate. This amounts to grand theft by the government.

        I have heard many liberals say something like “no one NEEDS to make more than $_____” (you can fill in the blank). The implication is that the government should decide what’s fair and who should benefit from the fruits of one’s labor other than the producer of that income.

        How is this consistent with the vision set forth by the Declaration of Independence? I would support a government that works to ensure equal opportunity. But I will never support a government that would steal from its citizens and decide who should benefit from the redistribution of their income.