by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
January 28, 2016
BERNIE SANDERS: THE LIBERAL ESTABLISHMENT'S WORST NIGHTMARE
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The parishioners of the Church of the Most Holy Conventional Wisdom are in a full-blown panic.
We see it in the conservative pig-pile in the latest issue of National Review against Donald Trump, warning of the destruction of the Republican Party as we know it if Trump wins the GOP presidential nomination.
We see it in the liberal pig-pile against Bernie Sanders on the op-ed pages and cable "news" shows, warning that Bernie Sanders has no chance whatsoever of becoming president and that he could destroy the Democratic Party if he wins the nomination.
We see it in Davos, where Sanders was being blamed for the ongoing meltdown of the global financial markets by the financial elites, and warned of ruin if his economic ideas are adopted.
And we see it in the possibility of former New York City mayor and Wall Street billionaire Michael Bloomberg mounting an independent presidential campaign to capture the votes of the "sensible center" who are disgusted with the "extremism" of Trump and Sanders.
It's hard to believe, at this juncture of the presidential campaign, that people are surprised why Sanders has so much support.
However, like the people who are running Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, those invested in the conventional wisdom and the status quo usually don't see change until the moment it rolls over them. They tend to lump Sanders and Trump together as opposite sides of the same coin of dissatisfaction with politics as usual.
But one big difference is that Sanders is taking on the right targets.
"We are taking on the political establishment, we're taking on the economic establishment, the financial interests in this country, and we're taking on the corporate establishment," Sanders said on Meet The Press on Jan. 24. "That is what is unique about this race. That, in fact, we are trying to make a political revolution bring millions of people into the political process that Washington and all of these politicians have significantly turned their backs on."
That revolution could reshape American politics. Consider that "none of the above" has garnered 40 to 50 percent of the vote in every presidential election since 1960. In nearly every election since then, more voters chose to stay home than ultimately supported the winning candidate.
Trump thinks he has a lock on that vote. But look at his rallies, and you see the base of the Republican party - old, white people fearful of change, fearful of the future, fearful of people who are different from them.
Look at Sanders' rallies, and you see people of all ages and backgrounds. They, like many Trump supporters, feel that politics as usual have failed. But, instead of merely lashing out, Sanders' supporters are embracing a simple agenda - wresting control of our democracy from the wealthy and the corporations and returning it to the common man and woman.
The tut-tutting of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman - who last week wrote that "transformative rhetoric" doesn't create change, only "political pragmatism" - and "accepting half loaves as being better than none - forgets one thing. It has been impossible to get even a half-loaf of change against foes who want the whole loaf and begrudge the few crumbs that fall to everyone else.
Look at the great social and political movements of the past century, and you will see that once you get a majority of the American people mobilized and energized behind a cause, change happens. Bernie Sanders is riding a wave of discontent that has been decades in the making.
Look at the major planks of the Sanders platform - health care for all, free public college, breaking up the big banks, raising the minimum wage, and a foreign policy that doesn't involve perpetual war, and you realize that it isn't all that radical. It only seems radical after 35 years of having conservative orthodoxy rammed down our throats by the wealthy and the corporations who have benefited from it.
I've watched Sanders in action as my congressman and senator for the past 25 years. He has served Vermont well and keeps getting re-elected because he is honest, principled, and genuinely concerned with the welfare of all Vermonters.
The rest of America has a chance to hear what we in Vermont have been hearing for years, and they seem to like what they're hearing.
In my lifetime, I've been waiting for a presidential candidate like Bernie Sanders, and I firmly believe his time has come. He can bring back the disaffected, the disgusted, the disheartened who've give up on the political process. He can ignite the political revolution this nation needs.
And that's why the establishment is scared.
AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and has been an award-winning journalist in New England for more than 35 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.