There Can Be No Progressive Agenda Until There’s Democracy In America

The main thing Bernie Sanders taught people is that they aren’t alone. For all the statistics and figures he’d rattle off during his epic arm-waving speeches, he wasn’t really telling Americans anything they didn’t already know from their own experience. For most folks, what set him apart from all the others was that he was the first one to step into the spotlight and validate that experience. For many, many Americans, Bernie’s was the first authoritative voice they’d heard that didn’t avoid the reality of America’s situation or try to gaslight them into thinking that nothing’s wrong.

He used the word “oligarchy” on national television for crying out loud. No one else was doing that. When nobody else would talk about it, Bernie was out there describing the actual experience real Americans were having in terms of their country. The experience of struggling to keep their heads above water in a system that was stacked against them at the expense of the very many for the benefit of the very few. Bernie became a superstar for compassionately saying what you’re not allowed to say in mainstream politics. He made it clear that, Yes, those things are real problems; no, they aren’t your fault, and yes, it is possible to fix them.

That was what truly set Bernie apart. Not his socialist ideas, not his progressive platform; that stuff was all secondary to what truly awakened our hearts. Which worked out fine because it turned out that progressive idealism doesn’t mean jack in a country that doesn’t even have a functioning democratic system. In the end, Bernie’s greatest gift to us wasn’t his spiel about Scandinavian governments or his delightful pronunciation of the word “billionaires,” it was his showing us our own powerlessness to elect someone like him.

Face it America; what good is it to know what policies you would like to vote for if your country’s just going to rig the election and install whomever they want anyway? What good is your knowledge of successful universal healthcare implementations if politicians have the ability to instruct the media to select their own opposition? What use is it to support any political ideology at all if the people whose job it is to implement them have a “public position” and a “private position?” What good is your vote if you’re forbidden from knowing what you’re voting for? What good is a political opinion when our government is lying to us, and the media is helping them?

We’re clear on this, right? As long as every agenda that interferes with the will of the oligarchs gets subverted, silenced, and sabotaged, your vote is a joke. Until we have democracy and government transparency, our progressive agenda is a joke.

In America right now, it doesn’t matter if you’re liberal or conservative, socialist or libertarian, Democrat or Republican because the nation isn’t divided between left and right, it’s divided between top and bottom. It’s such a reprehensible deceit, the way basement dwellers on the left side of the political spectrum have been turned against the impoverished victims of the Wal-Mart economy on the right side and how we’re now all battling each other for survival while the aristocrats watch and laugh like something out of the Hunger Games movies.

This is absurd, and it needs to stop. We need to start forming ranks along the lines as they actually exist, not as the media propaganda machine has drawn them. The oppressed need to be fighting the oppressors and those who enable their oppression, not each other. This means the basement dwellers and the deplorables need to set aside their ideological differences, which don’t make one whit of difference until democracy is restored anyway and fight the real enemy together.

And if this is a problem for you, you need to get over yourself. If you’re not willing to collaborate with the right to restore democracy, then stop pretending you care about democracy, because you don’t. You just want to become the new monolithic political force and have democracy subverted for your benefit. If you’re not willing to fight alongside people of differing ideologies than yourself to restore the will of the people, then stop complaining about the rigged elections, because you have no interest in giving the people back their voice. You want to silence their voices and replace them with your own. You’re an expression of the disease, not the cure, and if your ilk succeeds in wresting power from the neoliberals, your perverse tribe will just become the new mob of oppressive dominators.

I’m not alone in this call, by the way. You progressives remember a guy named Ralph Nader? He was one of the first to call American power dynamics what they are in this country, and he’s intensely brilliant. He’s been calling for the left and the right to unite against corporatism for a while now, and he makes a great case for it which is worth looking into if you have the time. Here’s a cool interview with Yes! from last year featuring Nader and a conservative named Daniel McCarthy, if you’re curious.

Progressives and conservatives don’t agree about a lot of things, but right now that really doesn’t matter, and it never will matter until we get Americans their votes back. The one thing we all do agree on is that it isn’t okay for rigged elections and media propaganda to be used to prop up a corporatist plutocracy, which is perfect because right now that’s the one thing that does matter. We can all collaborate with the shared goals of winning the media war against government propaganda and protecting and uplifting whistleblowers while pushing for government transparency and an end to election manipulation, so that, one day, we can all enjoy the luxury of having a meaningful debate about our respective political ideologies.

I look forward to the day when we can all scream at each other about who’s right and wrong and point at the left path and the right path as the better way to go, but we can’t scream if we haven’t got voices, and we can’t see the path if we haven’t got eyes. Our votes are our voices, and government transparency is our eyes. Let’s take them back. They’re ours. Nobody had any business taking them from us in the first place.

They don’t get to have a “public position” and a “private position” with how they intend to spend our tax dollars, our resources, our ecosystem, and the lives of our military personnel. No. That’s not a thing.

They will turn on the lights and let us see what we’re voting for, and they will let our votes count. They’ll have to. As soon as we become united, we’ll be too powerful to stop.

[Featured Image by John Minchillo/ AP Images]