It's the Political and Economic Establishment, Stupid

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It's the Political and Economic Establishment, Stupid

Candidate for the Democratic nomination, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally at the Colorado Convention Center on February 13, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo: Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

So, the most recent tactic is to attack Bernie Sanders' platform as a one-issue campaign in a multi-issue nation.  Well, that's an interesting argument given one of the most powerful messages from the recent political past that claimed boldly, "It's the economy, stupid."  The argument was offered by political strategist James Carville in 1992 during Bill Clinton's campaign for the White House.  Over the years, the phrase has been altered to fit a variety of issues by a variety of candidates, but it was a clear, concise way for the 1992 campaign to target the issue that was so critical to so many voters.

Fast forward 24 years to 2016, and some are faulting Bernie Sanders for his focus on the massive influence of money on our democracy and the political process overall.  Well, that is beyond interesting unless you dig in and really examine the influence the political and economic establishment and the money behind that establishment has exerted on every single area that touches every single American.  Single-issue focus on protecting and enhancing wealth for a very few by the rich and powerful has deeply damaged us, and it is simply a sign of the power of that message being expressed clearly and openly by Bernie Sanders that is resonating with so many millions of people.  

Here's the list of issues I heard Bernie Sanders address at the Denver Convention Center on Saturday night:  crumbling infrastructure, climate change, youth unemployment, mass incarceration, Medicare for all healthcare, campaign finance reform, tuition-free public education grades K-16, Social Security, poverty, income inequality, income equity, a woman's right to control her own body, and more.  Was there one single thread running through his firebrand speech?  Of course.  And that single thread is the tie that binds people to Bernie's campaign.  Enough is enough.  It's time for a political revolution, and anything short of that will not bring about the changes that must occur if we are to reclaim our government for all of us.

As I gazed around the crowd seated around me and across the sea of nearly 20,000 people gather to listen to Bernie's message, I was blown away by the young people and their joy in hearing someone actually express what they already know.  The system is rigged in favor of a sort of political and financial royalty of which they will never be a part.  The single-issue candidacy criticism is another ridiculous argument against the populist message that is rolling in waves throughout this nation, thanks to Bernie Sanders.  Young people around me were high-fiving me and stomping their approval to the points Bernie made that tied us back to the central theme that resonates through this campaign and permeates our democracy—the system is rigged in favor of the monied interests and not in favor of the people.

Perhaps he has done it before, but Bernie also called those gathered in Denver to recall the words of Abraham Lincoln when he spoke during his Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, saying our government should ever be, "Of the people, by the people and for the people."  The crowd joined Bernie in a sort of simultaneously loud, strong and reverent way as he said those words.  It was one of the most moving moments I can recall in my half-century of following politics and candidates.  Shared voices in a "huge" audience sharing a dream long held as the single issue we treasure across the generations.  Our political and economic system has been corrupted by the influence of big money.  And now it's about to be transformed by the only power strong enough to over come that singularly-focused lobby group.  The transformational power of the people is being awakened and asserted by Bernie's campaign.

Single issue?  Naw.  Single focus?  Maybe closer to the truth is that you distill that focus down to the reality people are confronting.  Big money has been is control long enough.  This nation needs a political and economic revolution.  And only the establishment pushing back would argue that is really a single-issue campaign.  The establishment gets it all too well.  Money buys their influence and money secures their power.  And now we the people are fighting back.  Finally.  With clear, single-minded focus.  Enough is enough.  Bernie is staying on point.  And it is our point: It's the political and economic establishment, stupid.

Donna Smith

Donna Smith
Donna Smith is the executive director of Progressive Democrats of America.  PDA's mission is to strengthen the voice of progressive ideas inside and outside the Democratic Party by using "inside/outside" and "grassroots fusion" models of working both in the Democratic Party as well as working with other progressive organizations both inside and outside the Party.

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