Why DON’T we rise up?

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has gotten me excited. He has progressives–and non-progressives, who see our country isn’t working in their economic self-interest–rallying around him like I’ve never seen before. As someone who’s been struggling post-recession to pull myself up by my bootstraps, Sanders appeals to me. By American standards, he’s way left of center–hell, left of left–proudly anti-establishment, and, as an added bonus, steadfast and authentic. BUT, although I find Bernie Sanders appealing as a politician, there’s another reason I’m excited: for the first time in my life, we’re on the verge of a social movement.

Bernie Sanders campaign slogan: "oligarchy response team"

I’ve been waiting for a movement like this since my early 20’s, way back when George W. was president. Not to undermine the quest for LGBTI rights–or the ongoing struggles for equality for women and people of color –but the only thing close to civil disobedience in my lifetime was Occupy Wall Street.

I was at the nation’s Capitol in 2003 when an estimated one-million people–yes, one-million–marched in peaceful protest of the Iraq war. I can’t explain how powerful it was to see that many people out on a frigid January day–people pushing strollers, elderly people, white people, people of color, teenagers–all marching in solidarity. By the end of the march, even with two pairs of socks on, my toes were near-frostbitten. Still,  it was 110% worth it.

“We did it,” my naive 23-year-old self thought. “They can’t possibly ignore this many of us. The U.S. will never invade Iraq.” Well, guess what? They did.

That was the beginning of my disillusionment, which burgeoned into the realization that protesting occasionally, signing dozens of e-petitions, then going home and hoping for change isn’t enough. We need disruption of our day-to-day lives to make real change happen. We need civil disobedience. We need to rise up, and Bernie Sanders’ candidacy seems to be the catalyst. Of course I want Bernie to win, but my biggest fear is that if he doesn’t we’ll lose our momentum. All of the catchphrases and hashtags associated with Bernie’s campaign–#PeoplePower, #NotMeUs, #WeAreBernie–get at this underlying message: We must come together en masse, or we have nothing.

Civil disobedience: The refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy, characterized by the employment of such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, and nonpayment of taxes.

Have we forgotten how to create change? Or have we become too complacent or apathetic?  According to this New York Times piece,

“Collective action on behalf of the poor requires a shared belief in the obligation of the state to secure the well-being of the citizenry. That belief has been undermined by what Beck calls the “insourcing” of risk, transferring obligations from the state to the individual. …

… ‘For decades, Americans and their government upheld a powerful set of ideals that combined a commitment to economic security with a faith in economic opportunity,’ Hacker writes. ‘Today that message is starkly different: You are on your own.’”

In essence, we believe that anyone not successful by financial standards should be blamed for his or her own lack of wealth. We’ve internalized the belief that we aren’t “in this together.” Sanders’ campaign is changing that. My fear isn’t that Bernie won’t be our next president–or even the Democratic nominee–but that this burgeoning movement will vanish, along with the hope that equality and economic security aren’t just specks in the distance.

According to Thomas P. Edsall’s op-ed,

“ … those bearing the most severe costs of inequality are irrelevant to the agenda-setters in both parties. … They are pushed to the periphery except for a brief moment on Election Day when one party wants their votes counted, and the other doesn’t.”

I’m ready to change that. Are you?




19 thoughts on “Why DON’T we rise up?

  1. We are on the same page here. We need to find ways to carry on “the Bern” even if the Bern doesn’t make it to the White House. Especially if The Dunce-ald does. I truly hope that Bernie’s tapped into something real and lasting, regardless of the outcome of this particular election.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Social change is difficult when a society has short term attention deficit. We are up in arms for a week, the tv news moves on and we follow. A person opposed to the establishment is a welcome change. Bernie isn’t likely to make changes even if he wins the presidency. But the message of open revolt will heard in two years with the house and senate races

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The best outcome is a long campaign where the Democratic Party actually has to draw in his platform. Whether through outright win, or the price to oppose him becomes too great. It’s crazy but the only change comes with him or, I’m serious, Trump. They are only outsiders. Trump is a moderate. Except in personality, he’s a get things done person. Congress has never, will never be a change agent. They are elected for life. They get raises ten times that of the seniors they cater to. College and school funding get cut when taxes are cut. Infrastructure gets cuts. Military never gets cut. Congresses cut never get cut.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, we need to demand a pay cut for congress people. If I were president that would be up there on my agenda. Or we should ALL get the pay/benefits that members of congress get. Imagine if all that money going to candidates’ campaigns went into citizens’ pockets? I can only dream.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Their healthcare is lifetime after one term. Their retirement is their full pay after six years for life. Now at $178,000 house members struggle to maintain a second residence. Feel bad until that automatic 3-4% raise comes. Senators get an extra $20K, so they are mostly ok. If you’re not a millionaire at first, you will be.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The same idiots like Ted Cruz or tea party are the same ones that push tax cuts but the budget never seen goes down. They move around money. The create jobs that don’t pay living wages or enough hours to gain benefits. They worked when full time was readily available. People who pay their campaigns tell them workers are too expensive.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’m blonde, but misspelling my own word is technically possible. Of course, only one other person would know. She’s Canadian anyway (can you trust a country with a dead leaf on their flag?)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Many people speak of uprisings. Of standing up. It seems like a good idea. The only problem is that there is no real, common agenda. Each person wants something different. When I think of rising up I think of the quote of Thomas Paine from “Rights of Man”:

    “When it can be said by any country in the world, my poor are happy, neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them, my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars, the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive, the rational world is my friend because I am the friend of happiness. When these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and government. Independence is my happiness, the world is my country and my religion is to do good.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great quote. I might recycle that in the future. As for what you said about the common agenda, I disagree. Sure, at different points in history there may not have been one, but look at the Great Depression. Masses of people living in poverty and unemployed led to a mass movement that increased workers’ rights and built a theretofore nonexistent social safety net.


  4. Here’s my suggestion: Make a list of the most predatory companies, organize mass boycotts and drive them out of business one by one. It wouldn’t be long before our culture of predatory capitalism started changing for the better.

    Liked by 1 person

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