First, there is the fascist candidate, whose name I will not pronounce given the amount of free publicity it has already received, sometimes even on purpose to divert attention from more important matters or more status-quo defying candidates. A “curtain of smoke”, as we call it in Spain. He represents the politics of fear and division, an inwards-looking reaction to challenges arising from brutal, profit-seeking globalization. In Europe we know a bit about this hypocrisy too. To our unbearable shame, our “politicians” have signed an agreement with Turkey to close our borders to any potential refugee coming from war-torn countries like Syria, and seeking nothing but the possibility of a dignified life, and a sip of human warmth. And we pretend to be leaders in guaranteeing and enabling human rights? Thanks god, we, the people, take matters in our own hands when our governments fail us, and organize, and give a hand to those in need, as they did or will do for us.
Sorry, I lost focus. I was talking about the US primaries. I believe I already mentioned the abomination, right? So let’s get to the bones of the subject now. In America, all votes are winner-takes-it-all contests between two candidates, of opposing parties or within the same one. By the way, to make things simpler, there are only two parties in the US … or not, hold on, there is also the independents and even the green party, but nobody knows, or cares, about those I guess. It’s a primary in this case, meaning the fight is internal, and should be, in principle, a straightforward choice between two different personalities embracing the same dogmas -the party’s-, in a more or less radical manner. In old-fashioned jargon, we have the Republicans on the one side, or “right” wing; and the Democrats on the other, also called “liberals” or “left-wingers”. And that is the end of the story. Or at least of the “official story” that they want us to know. Hmm you have noticed already, haven’t you? The clever use of “they” and “us”. Let me apologize in advance, there is no conspiracy-style, detective story here.
I was saying. Yeah. Zoom in the “Democratic” party (that is if the New York Times and Washington Post allow you) and you will find what you are looking for. The Battle. The Real one. Masked as a piece-of-cake, triumphant stroll to the nomination for Hillary Wall-Street, sorry Rodham, Clinton, over the other guy (damn, I can’t find his name in the papers, anybody?); the 2016 US democratic primary election embodies better than anything else the titanic clash, of opposing futures, we are all part of. One that will shape, want it or not, the lives of numerous generations to come, with reverberations probably extending over thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, years. My dear friends, we are not talking about democrats vs republicans or right vs left. None of those simplistic, obsolete terms define the current state of reality. But let me suggest another set of terms that does: how about the top 1% vs the other 99%? Elites vs common folks. People vs corporations. Super PACs vs citizens. The Oil & Gas Industry vs our children. So do you know what I am talking about now? I guess so, thanks to some remaining relatively independent media and the god-blessed internet, we have all heard and seen the Occupy movement’s messages, or the Indignados’, the Arab Springers’, the Syntagma’s, the Nuit Debout’s…. We have even participated in these awe-inspiring uprisings, and felt the power of reclaiming our rights, together. I was personally involved in Spain’s “Indignados” back in 2011, and I’ll tell you what, it was the most eye-opening experience of my entire life, the “awakening of our collective conscience”, we called it. We, the People, read the constitutions of many free countries.
The context is set. Two people on behalf of antagonistic forces rally for votes, and for a lot more. Miss Clinton hosts a $2,700 a-plate fundraiser for the very wealthy. Bernie Sanders (finally, it came to me!) listens to the reflection of his own words, now ours, from the massive crowd that has gathered near the tiny Brooklyn apartment were he was born and raised. Hillary makes a “non-releasable”, $ 250K speech for her Wall Street friends, and big-bill donors; dismissing a young Greenpeace activist with an “I’m so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me!”, when questioned on her ties to the oil industry. Bernie rallies with union workers and strikers, much as he has done his whole life, dating back to the civil rights march, right behind Dr. King. He smiles at a little bird (Birdie!) joining his campaign podium for a precious second (“a symbol for world peace”, he brilliantly improvises). And yet, miraculously, the Bernie campaign out-funds Hillary’s for the third straight month. More than 1.5 million individual donations averaging $30 a piece from ordinary folks making extraordinary efforts to contribute, to feel part of a movement that resonates deeply in their hearts. I remember Hillary saying something like “we don’t need to change hearts, we need to change legislation.” No, Hillary, what we need to change is actually people’s hearts, and then everything else will come as a result.
Follow the money, they say, and you will find all answers. Unfortunately, a true statement in many cases. Hillary, and the Clinton Foundation by the way, has raised millions of dollars from Wall Street corporations, including human-rights “champion” pharmaceuticals, and environment “stalwart” Petroleum companies. She is nothing but a mere puppet of special interests and powerful lobbies. They dictate her policies, line by line, seeking nothing but their only benefit, at the expense of everybody else’s. One cannot govern for the many when it is the few that pay your bills. It is as simple as that. The only government of, for and by the people, is a people-funded government. Tell me who is your employer and I’ll tell you what you believe in. Look at that embarrassing republican congressman -part of the Environment Commission by the way- denying climate change in the House of “Representatives”, with a snow ball in his hands, in plain winter in Washington. This guy’s and his whole party’s pockets are filled with dirty oil money. And they will deny climate change, and science, and overwhelming evidence, until it floods their own towns and threatens their own families. But we can’t and we won’t wait until that happens.
The battle we are in, fellows, is not a vote in the primaries. It is the age-old battle between the powerful and the powerless. The landlords and the slaves. The natives and the “conquistadores”. The global multi-nationals and the local small businesses. The few trying to satisfy their unquenchable greed, the many struggling to grant their kids a chance, and put food on their table. There is only two sides to the story: the establishment ready to maintain their status-quo of inherited privileges at all costs; and the rest of us demanding the restoration of the true “American” dream, or a world in which we all get a chance to fulfill our dreams, irrespectively of where we come from, the color of our skin, whom we love, or the wealth of our family. Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, Black Lives Matter, protecting the sacred lands of indigenous people, marching against globalization and “wild wild west” free trade agreements, opposing war, speaking out for gender equality and LGTB rights, banning fracking, demanding fair, living wages (Fight for 15!), halting oil exploration in the Arctic waters, protesting against voter suppression schemes, unjust criminal systems, privatization of water sources, evictions of people at risk for the sake of real estate “development” … All fights merge into one. What we are all fighting for is nothing but justice, equality, peace and a livable planet. What is at stake on April 19 is the very essence of human rights, and democracy, and dignity, our ancestors sacrificed their lives for. Do we want a democracy where one person does not equal one vote? Where the mainstream media distort facts and bend reality towards the interests of their donors? Where 62 individuals own as much wealth as 3.6 billion people? Where rising sea levels will force millions people across the globe to abandon large coastal cities in a few decades from now? Do we want to pass this kind of world on to our children? I don’t. We won’t.
Bernie is the leader we need for this task. He is the real thing, and embodies all that is good in us: commitment, integrity, humility. Since day one he has been fighting for us. Always on the right side of history, whereas ahead of his time or at unpopular times, but always sticking to his guiding principles. No wonder he has been endorsed and supported by all leading social and environmental activists of our days like Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, or the Pope (I love this Pope!) Bernie, you certainly have our back.
This election, this great candidate, this movement (It’s not me, it’s Us!), is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change course, to revert the current trend of increasing inequalities (the source of all problems), to take back our power. And, of course, to enjoy it all, cause there is nothing more rewarding than sharing, the key to happiness indeed, as the protagonist of “Into the Wild” discovered on his lonely deathbed (“Happiness is only real when shared”, were his diary’s final words). I’m personally just loving it while I write these lines, feel the energy (and the Bern!) and look forward to making my little contribution to this historic turning point. “Life is all about little moments”, the poet used to say. And this one I want to share it with all of you 😉
Wait a second. I mentioned something about “a place” before, right? There is no battle without battlefield, you might be thinking. Well, yes. There is a place in the history-in-the-making books. And that is New York. The Great State of New York. The center of all power structures, headquarters of major “liberal” institutions (“The Empire State of the Mind”), endorsing Hilary, and sharing the same “investors” in case you wondered. The center of all evil, greedy Wall Street yuppies speculating with food (yes, food!), evading taxes, and shielding their immoralities in Panama (heard about the Panama Papers?) All for the sake of a 3rd holiday house in Florida, and a long-as-january psychiatric bill to treat “depression” or “anxiety”. And yet, as a good friend of mine once told me, “right next to humanity’s worst, you will always find humanity’s best as well”. New York is also a sea of hope. It was right there, through the harbor Madame Liberty looks upon, that millions of immigrants arrived in the land of opportunity. It was in its streets that thousands of peaceful protesters showed the world that the wars in Vietnam and Iraq were nonsense, just like any other war or form of violence for that matter. That the largest environmental demonstration in history -the People’s Climate March– proved that we care, paving the way for the groundbreaking Paris Agreement. It was New York the first state to walk the talk and ban freaking fracking. New York is resistance. The empowering Occupy movement that took back public spaces (literally and mentally) for the common good. New York is resilience. The City that Never Sleeps, savagely brought to its knees on that fatal 9/11, came back stronger and more united, in its diversity, than ever; choosing love over fear in its response.
Next Tuesday, and for a good few months now, all these experienced and tireless activists (“activists we don’t quit, we just change strategies, until victory”) we are coming to New York, ready for the battle of our lives. We are flooding the City, and the whole State, with more than 1.5 million copies of a free publication telling the story as it truly unfolds (please donate to this crowd-funding campaign to make it happen!), and thus effectively counteracting the anti-Bernie bias of the establishment machinery. Yes. We are rallying. We are phone-banking, knocking on doors, getting out the votes, spreading good vibes, making the Political Revolution happen (did you know that the best things in life are “made” rather than “done”? Revolutions. Peace. Love 🙂
And I’ll tell you what. Never have I ever seen such enthusiasm, such engagement, such energy. Every time I read the little stories shared in comments on Facebook I shed a tear. First-time voters knocking on neighbors’ doors; hard-working people putting in long volunteering hours to call everybody they know; folks cutting their own hair to donate the little, but vital, bucks saved. Gosh, I’m crying now. Of joy. Of freedom. We are going to win this. We have already won indeed. For this growing movement has no stopping. Because we are many and they are few. And so long as we can break free from the tyranny of money, remind ourselves where we come from, and unite for what is universal in us, we will always prevail. “Because when we stand together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.” -Birdie.
New Yorkers, fellow humans, let’s do this!!! 😉
#WeThePeople #FeelTheBern #Bernie2016