Jean Barker

The impossible is possible

2016-01-25 08:35

Jean Barker

I remember reading, in 2006, in a left-wing US publication that Obama wasn’t a viable presidential candidate because a) he was black … er, still is and b) that his name rhymed with “Osama”. Well, the jury was in by the end of 2008.

Yes, Congress has made the once-handsome young president turn grey and tired, but he’s changed America, and he’s a hard act to follow.

Cue Bernie Sanders, who the same people again say “has no chance”. He barely launched his campaign, compared to the celebrity candidates. No elevator rides and racist diatribes like Trump. No fake down-to-earth visits to a cheap restaurant like Hilary. No family video. Just a “Hey, I am running, and now I have to get back to work”.

It still seemed like Hilary Clinton was the only viable candidate on the Democratic side, but that was months ago, when we still took the Bush guy seriously on the GOP ticket.

Now, it turns out that Bernie’s screw-you to the political playing field is working even better than Trump’s antics. The New Hampshire Poll, as well as this historically accurate mock election predicts that Bernie will win not only the Democratic nomination, but also the presidency.

This is despite the fact that the American media still routinely dismiss Bernie as too old, too left wing, and too unpolished. This is also despite the fact that they still give far more coverage, no matter their political leanings, to the hideous (but entertaining) Trump and Ben “’ludes” Carson campaigns.

Meanwhile Cruz, with his typical fake family values shtick, and Clinton, with her experience and millions, just spell more of the same old same old in voters’ eyes.

Why is this happening?

Gambling with votes?

I’m reading a book at the moment, called The Confidence Game. One truth I learned reading it, is that the more desperate people are, emotionally, financially or otherwise, the easier they are to con. This makes sense. I made most of my stupidest decisions when sad. As a South African, I see my own political leaders playing on fears and desperation, as Zuma does, to win votes.

The American economy may have recovered from the recession, but the American people have not. The income gap is worse than it was in 2002.  The American people are desperate to keep their famous dream, and successful candidates must address this desperation.

The two most promising candidates, in my view, are both trying to.

Trump is doing just what Zuma does, but in the USA. He’s blaming certain ethnic groups. He’s inciting hate and mocking kindness. He’s appealing to the entitlement of the US working class, of all races, who want to blame more recent immigrants for taking jobs they refuse to.

Bernie, meanwhile, is calling for serious social democratic measures that protect people from poverty. It’s unheard of, and nobody knows quite how he’ll make his ideas become law in the face of congressional strikes, but it seems to be appeal to those who want to change the status quo a different way.

Bernie’s supporters have been called naïve to think he’ll win. But I wonder if they really are. The people who plan to vote for Bernie may be doing small stuff… but there are a lot of them.

Aside from eating gluten free and single-handedly propping up the US market for organic baby kale, Bernie fans organise viewings of the democratic debates in bars. They post about stuff on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They paint pro-Bernie graffiti in public places and erect Bernie for President signs on busy roads. They risk losing great future wealth for the greater good...If this is what “naïve” means, I’ll remain open.

Overall, 2016 seems like a very emotional election. It feels like it’s meant to be about America re-defining itself, and reaching for something greater than war, or the empty promises that extremist capitalism supplied and reneged on.

The 99% are still struggling with the after effect of what the banks that Hilary Clinton refuses to break up did.

Meanwhile, the 15% lunatic vote still believe the rich guy will be their friend, when, in reality, they’re just lining up outside Club Trump, while he lounges in the VIP section.

In this crazy world, Bernie Sanders, who once seemed impossible, and who probably still thinks Willie Nelson re-issues are the latest thing in music, might just make it all the way to the White House.


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