Call me old-fashioned, but I still think that when you say you want a revolution, it means you intend to actually do something. It means you plan to work, to organize, to get together with other people to make things happen. You organize in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the city. You build coalitions, you form alliances, you spend time and effort and bring forth concrete proposals and plans. You build from the ground up. Yes, I’m old-fashioned, and that’s how they did it in the old days. It’s how the trade unions started, and how we ended up with weekends and benefits and child labor laws. The civil rights act of 1965 did not happen because people voted for Lyndon Johnson. Lyndon Johnson all on his own was never going to do a thing like that. Ah, the old days.
It’s different today. All we have to do now is vote for Bernie Sanders and he will make it all happen. He will break up the banks and take all the billionaires’ money and give everybody free unlimited health care and education. It’s double rainbow wonderful and all we have to do is vote. And tell our friends to vote and #feelthebern. Never mind that Bernie Sanders has NO effective allies in government anywhere, that he has never done a damn thing for any other Democrat, that there is no chance in hell that anything he’s proposing would ever get anywhere in the real world. Oh no, he’s got a political revolution in the making, a political revolution that will be made exactly like a viral video or a number one single – it’ll just happen! It’ll be like Adele, it’ll be viewed a billion times on YouTube, it’ll be tweeted and re-tweeted and liked on Facebook and just like that – a revolution!
Wouldn’t it be nice? But where is the innocent child to point out that this socialist would-be emperor has no clothes? You might say, well, look at Donald Trump, this year anything can happen, it’s not like any other year, but a Republican controlled congress actually exists right now and could really do terrible things with a president of their own, and right when they seem on the verge of self-destruction with a parade of horrible loser candidates, do we really need the Democrats to rush in and get there first, all because they’ve fallen under the spell of an enchanter shouting out a string of magic words?
It’s a pretty cloth, a lovely garment, a finely tailored cloak he weaves, but it’s nothing underneath. Voting for this guy is nothing more than following Taylor Swift on Instagram, and in this day and age when three hundred million users is just not good enough (eh, Twitter?) it doesn’t matter how much you like the sound of the words, because it’s just another hit single, and we’ll move on after that to the next big thing. America loves a winner. What it doesn’t love is getting off its fat ass and making shit happen.
(In the past generation the closest thing to a revolution in America has been from the right, which has organized and won elections on the local and state level and proceeded to roll back women’s rights, undermine workers and do away with health and safety regulations, leading directly to crises like lead poisoning, while the left, to be fair, did manage to camp out for a few weeks one summer on Wall Street)