What is worse, a Socialist who walks over the Working Class or a Capitalist who smiles at them and fools them? I’ll give you the details.
No Eye for the White Working Class
On August 28, 2017, in a written speech – not as improvised remarks – for a (n almost) sold-out house (church) in New York City, launching his new book, Bernie Saunders opened by declaring solidarity with not only the victims of hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana (to no applause at all), but also with terrified immigrants, horrified Afro-Americans, incredulous members of the gay community, women who want to be boss over their own bodies and all oppressed people by this administration (thunderous applause – what – the audience only has empathy for itself?).
As shockingly as his listeners’ lack of empathy with the flood victims down south, this self-declared Socialist left out a major oppressed group, by his opponent Trump so famously and well named ‘the forgotten Americans.’ Is he yet another intellectual preaching equality but forgetting the White Working Class? One can’t understand how such a thing is possible at all. That would make him yet another version of Hillary. In fact, he would be worse than Clinton. If one is still an anti-Semite after WW II, one is worse than one who was it before. If you still forget the White Working Class after Trump’s win, you’re more arrogant than if you “only” didn’t notice them before his victory. And that makes for a fine parlor red, Armchair Socialist. I’m appalled and left in disbelief. Later on, he must start mentioning minimum wage and maybe even workers themselves, but for me this opening is a large thumbs down.
Bernie seems about as stubborn as the Donald, so we may we fear it realistic that this is who he is and he’s not going to change.
Let’s follow where he goes next. He remembers the great speech there fifty years ago, by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, condemning the Vietnam War (sic – using its imperialist name). He continues: We should never forget the great costs of war, not only in money but also in human life. Two mistakes. He completely bypasses the injustice of this colonial war, focusing only on the horrors of war in general, and – there we go again – ignores US veterans. Shocking! Workers of America, who needs enemies with friends like that? Am I too harsh? Hardly. Until he spends an hour in tears apologizing to a large audience, this man is not to be believed or followed by the Working Class.
Now he’s going to launch his book. A book, for Heaven’s sake! How many times did he drop most of the Working Class already within these first ten minutes?! I lost count. Disgusting!
Let there be no misunderstanding: Bernie means well. Trump does not. Bernie is sincere, Trump not. Bernie would be a relief for US society that so tragically missed any Socialist reeducation to get further away from slave owner mentalities, while Trump’s reign is destructive. However, are we listening here to best alternative for Trump, yet another well-established thinker who is blind and deaf to the mindset of the workers who bring water out of his tap and bread to his plate? The way to Hell is paved with good intentions. Good intentions may not be good-enough.
There is no measure of disregarding US workers or he can make it worse. Next, nine minutes into his address, he starts praising progressiveness. Doesn’t he know that his role should not only be to unite people who are progressives already, but also to win over the White Working Class, Trump supporters? Is he only capable of preaching to the choir?
Next, he starts talking about moving away from fossil fuels, without a word about the people who are trained to work in mines and refineries.
He then pins his hopes on the next generation because his generation made a mess of things. (Let’s sidestep for the moment that it is as oppressive to pin one’s hope on youngsters as it is to praise Jews for being such great violin players.) Sure, we weren’t perfect, but can’t we have some admiration for past generations who did their best? Can we only improve by trashing the older generation? Is there no empathy for the goodwill, hard work and sacrifice of the ones who came before us? The White Working Class will not buy into this lack of respect for the ones who cradled and fed us and tried to give us more than they ever received. This speaker is not just incognizant of blue-collar workers – he’s ignorant of them. In only ten minutes, over and over, he proved himself to be out-of-touch with the have-nots, just part of the establishment. G‑d, Who is a Self-declare Socialist, must be sobbing on His throne.
Next, he stands up for thinking big. He starts to trash television as not transmitting any relevant information. He’s like a new chief for a vegetarian restaurant who creates one fantastic meat dish after the other. The White Working Class may never read a book (including his), may watch TV all the time, but they should follow a smartass who says that it’s all fake news and worthless? Yes, there is a lot of wasting time and junk on many channels, and it would be wise to throw away this devilish device, but if you say it like this, you don’t only chuck the honest reporting that is going on, but also the affordable entertainment it gives and with it the tired Working Class who’s watching it. It gives them most of their information and much needed joy and relaxation. They don’t like reading and they are drained at the end of the day.
Now he goes on to say that asking the right questions is more important than having the right answers. True as that may be, that is not what most people learned in school. High philosophy is nice, but this is again a foolproof way to lose most of your working-class viewers. Why doesn’t he speak in examples, instead of in lofty principles? In passing, he trashes Trump, but many in the White Working Class identify with him – he too is a hands-on man, watches TV and he talks to them, literally and figuratively. Why does he need to be negative on Trump? Why not stick to the issues? O, that’s why he mentioned him “only” parenthetically? Yet another shove in distancing the workers.
Now he starts talking about the grotesque income inequality. Why can’t he say: we need more money for the workers? But it gets worse – still (unbelievably). He goes on saying that more than an economic subject it’s a moral issue. That will be a fat concern for the ones who cannot finish the month or have no roof over their head, I say in irony. He just lifted a prime concern for the White Working Class from their frame of mind over to the realm of Ethics. So sad.
Now he’s finally giving an example. Six (he stresses six by saying it again and holding up five fingers – you must see it to believe it) wealthiest people on earth own as much as the poorest half of the world. Again he lost the White workers. As we see from Trump’s popularity, they don’t mind rich people. They only want their fair share. For whatever reason, he focuses on the global economy. Even his own fancy crowd is selfish (see above) – what does he expect from the US poor? They like “America first.” I won’t blame them. Does he not know that millions in the US are poor, don’t have enough money for food, housing, healthcare? He must know, but he has a defect in his awareness. He wants the US to set an example in uprooting world hunger, but he can’t spend a sentence on the US’ own poor? Again he thinks that he’s doing the poor a favor but again he’s turning them away from him. He seems to never miss a chance to miss a chance. Maybe he’s a pawn of Trump?
(If he now wants to plead for the global situation, it would have been instructive and in order not only to mention the flooding in Texas and Louisiana (20 people dead) but also the flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal (1200 people dead, 3,5 million people lost their homes there) but he doesn’t. His point’s maybe mainly abstract philosophical.)
He now throws in a word trashing US military expenditure. Once again, he seems unaware that many White Working Class workers work and worked in the military. What’s wrong with this guy?
After a whopping 20 minutes of shameful neglect, he says that he’s going to discus US poverty, which “we discuss much too little” – the royal we? But no worry, he’s continuing his disastrous analysis. He’s talking about the widening wealth gap. Lots of numbers. Thunderous applause. Why can’t he talk to people who don’t know how to spell wealth? Why can’t he talk about jobs and salaries? About housing and job safety? About schooling and help to quit addictions? He’s really so much removed? He must be. Now he mentions the poor and homeless veterans – no applause. It’s a token remark on forgotten Americans.
Trump Won, Didn’t He?
Now he’s going to “explain” why Trump won the election. Hold on to your chairs. Is he going to undo all the above? No worry. He goes into semantics – word games. Trump didn’t win the election; Clinton lost the election. How deep. Standing ovation! Really. But not so deep. The Left have always been bad losers. This is understandable. They know what’s at stake, so they are deeply hurt when their good intentions get blocked. Unfortunately, they don’t always bring the best alternatives. Bernie should have said: we lost because we overlooked the White Working Class – and Trump didn’t. We promise to do better from now on. Yet, he didn’t. Once more, a chance missed – I’m not keeping score anymore.
He going to explain this loss – may G-d help. When he went around the country for the 2016 elections, he saw PEOPLE (it must have been a first that he pronounces it like that) in pain and despair. He can never forget the images. Where has he been the first seven decades of his life? He grew up poor (with PEOPLE) but seems to have forgotten all of it.
Trump saw this poverty and reacted to that – but with lies. And the underpaid are angry and should be angry because the system has failed them. He could not add: part of that system is the political system which never saw you, myself top on the list? It’s just been “the system”? Where were the politicians? Where was Bernie Sanders all those years?
Finally he’s giving many examples of poverty. Suddenly he’s speaking reality. Next he accuses the Democratic Party of turning its back to them. Remember, Bernie is not a Democrat – he’s an Independent. This is probably going to be his brightest moment. Next up is again him saying that this poverty is bad enough but worse is that billionaires are buying the elections. That is worse than having no money to sustain one’s family? Ah, he’s talking about himself losing the elections. I’m sure that for him that’s worse than others’ hunger.
Now he’s saying that elections can only be won by someone talking about the concerns of the Working Class (he says it more denigrating, but let’s overlook that and focus on his intention). He could have credited Trump for that insight, but he doesn’t.
Goals and Change
Now he starts educating. How does [positive economic] change take place? Not from the top but rather when the grassroots start moving. He means: once the workers begin to demand improvement. He announces to discuss illustrations of this but they turn out supposedly examples of his ideas that are picked up and empowered by the people.
He pleads for doubling the minimum wage to end the possibility of being working poor. Who works 40 hours a week should not be lacking. That’s all he says about that. Next on his wish list: it is absurd that women get less money than men for the same work. Next: invest in restoring infrastructure which creates an enormous amount of jobs. Never mind that’s what Trump’s saying all along. But he says he got idea first and “Trump people” are now agreeing with him. But we know that Trump himself is already trying to pass legislation to get this done – it sounds, sorry to say, dishonest to omit this.
Now he starts pleading for free higher education for the ability for every child to reach a well-paying Middle Class job. He totally overlooks the dignity and pride of a Working Class job well-done. Why should blue-collar work (expert carpentry) pay less than intellectual work (being a bookkeeper)? And he’s a Socialist? Sounds pretty Capitalist to me.
He wants to finance this by taxing Wall-Street speculation (ovation – there seem no investors in the audience). Everyone for themselves. Next: Healthcare is a human right. We must end the disgrace that when you’re rich you can get the best healthcare in the world (a bit more modesty would be appreciated) but if you’re Working Class you may not be able to get to the doctor when you should (no applause).
The Democratic Party needs to stand up against Big Money, including the fossil fuel lobby. They are lying about climate change being a hoax like the tobacco industry denied harm fifty years ago, just for short-term profit. Making energy green will create many jobs. Bernie finally made a series of good points, but not before putting down Trump as “out of his mind” (which term insults people branded insane by the psychiatric elite). He seems to think that speaking in earnest is enough. He doesn’t need the White Working Class – he just needs to feel for them. Just like Trump, who doesn’t need to be politically correct, as long as he (declares that he) “likes” women, Blacks, Jews, the uneducated, people in general. (When Trump said to the uneducated: We are the elites, the media took that as a joke. Have they then never heard of: there is nobility in labor?)
Trump and his friends are just sowing discord to rake in more profit. Demagogues always do so. Therefore we should unite. He names many examples (straight and gay, undocumented immigrants, prisoners) but the glaring omission in solidarity (again) is: between the Working Class, Middle Class and Upper-Middle Class. What’s wrong with this Socialist?
Most people are decent. He found out when he was campaigning for the presidency. (Better late than never.) We need to not allow demagogues to divide us. We need a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of the working families. And we need to be proud of this country and stand up against the people who try to divide us and “who have the power, who have the money and who have the media.” They have the media? Donald Trump doesn’t think so. Neither do I. Who have the power, the money and the media? The Jews? Doesn’t sound kosher to me. Brr.
May I end with a general observation of a weak point often with Left-wing politicians? He’s angry. He talks from rage. Learn from Trump. Speak with confidence, calmness, resolve, delight, optimism, hope, friendliness and maximally indignation. Workers have enough anger – they don’t need yours on top of it. There’s no need to show your anger to “prove” you’re on their side. Speak their language, not their despair.
Fancy words and ideas, Bernie, but you bark up the wrong tree. In fact you pee against it. This must stop. If he’s the best alternative to Trump, he isn’t one. Foresight is 2020.
If I need to summarize this 60-minute speech in under ten words, I would call it: How not to learn from Trump and his victory.
I apologize for giving a caricature of the White Working Class throughout this piece, but hey, I had to make a contrast with its almost total eclipse by the speaker. I know that some love reading, are Lefties, etc.
I did not address his anti-Zionist stand – very painful but true, because in this address he did not mention it. It is a point of great concern to me, though. He’s an enemy of the Jewish State, and doesn’t know it. As long as he doesn’t repent from that, Jews and their friends can only hope and pray that he won’t become US president – which would be a pity for backward Capitalist America. But so far, no prayers are needed.
PS: Maybe we can end on a positive note. If Bernie is right, that change come through people at the bottom, not at the top, demanding it, then maybe we should hope that enough people will come up to Bernie and respectfully but urgently ask him to start talking to the White Working Class as if they are important people (which they are) and start listening to Jewish Palestinians as if they are reasonable people (which they are). Lording it over others is not going to bring the changes that are needed.