November 19, 2015

#FeelTheBern on #socialism, #BlackLivesMatter, even foreign policy

Bernie Sanders knocked it out of the park, at least in terms of Democrats, in his "socialism" speech at Georgetown today.

Several brief points, mainly taking from stuff I tweeted during the speech.

First, he hearkened back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, not just 1933 or 1937, but the FDR in the middle of war, who still looked to greater economic equality (if but haltingly for minorities) in his 1944 State of the Union address.

He then transitioned to Lyndon Baines Johnson and Medicare. This was good, which then led to a pivot to calling for a "Medicare for all" single-payer national health care system.

However, if Bernie wants to really go for the long bomb, he could have thrown deeper.

First, I still contend that the only good way to control costs in American health care, a single payer system isn't enough. Medicare being tight on reimbursement rates might help, but it might not be enough. I still say we need to look at nationalizing chunks of the hospital/clinic/doctor health care provider system.

(Update, Nov. 24: I have now written a broader blog post specifically defending corporate socialism, which Sanders did himself back in his salad days.)

Second, he didn't touch all of LBJ's Great Society. That's despite quoting Martin Luther King Jr.:

"This country has socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor."
Let's remember that LBJ riffed on this in relation to African-Americans.

More, far more, than the New Deal, the Great Society was focused on racial as well as socioeconomic issues. Hence LBJ at Howard University’s 1965 commencement:
You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: 'now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.' You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, "you are free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe you have been completely fair... This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.

Heck, LBJ might even had said #BlackLivesMatter today, per this from 1968 and riots:
When you put your foot on a man's neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what's he going to do? He's going to knock your block off.
More of his Great Society and other quotes are at Wikiquote.

But, this must be balanced with socioeconomic concerns, too, both in the ivied towers of the Ivy League and the crumbling curbs of Main Street.

Speaking of, while he did make more than one allusion to unionism, I wish he had spoken more directly about the issue. Unfortunately, many unions, like the oily SEIU, have already lined up to endorse Clinton. And, per Sanders and social democracy, the American non-parliamentary two-party system is part of why Democrats co-opt unions without having a Labor or Social Democratic party.

On the other hand, organized labor could withhold endorsements before we get further into the primary system. And, just one — a truly liberal one like the Longshoremen — maybe could do a Greens endorsement in the general.

But, Sanders did touch on other issues today, even if family and maternity leave doesn't help the underclass if it's not paid leave.

He did note that climate change is a moral issue.

And, he did touch on foreign policy. Including calling a racist spade a spade, from Donald Trump or whomever.

No, he did more than that.

He covered foreign policy in far more depth than at the second Democratic debate, and did well.

Arbenz. Mossadegh. And many others the CIA overthrew all got mentioned. Vis-a-vis the GOP's Benghazi fixation, let's remember what Benghazi was — a spook shack.

He then called out Gulf oil states for not accepting refugees from their own corner of the world. Saudi Arabia has a tent city that can hold up to 1 million people and is only used for pilgrims at the hajj. It sits empty as I type. He also said the Gulf states need to join in the fight against Daesh. Related to that, he forswore an endless "War on Terror."

And, wingnuts will call him "earnest" or whatever while doing their own pontificating, but he focused on the moral angle of many of these issues.

Finally, in a lighter vein, and throwing Hillary Clinton under the bus, he said he wasn't running because it was his "turn." More seriously, besides the bright lines he continues to draw with her over things like Wall Street regulation, he threw her under the bus on the War on Drugs, calling for a lot less incarceration, especially on things like minor drug crimes. Given that Clinton gets significant campaign funds from private prison companies, this is important.

For a few more text pullouts, see Mother Jones. And, the NYT gave him a respectable read — on its First Draft blog. Let's see how the main page plays it. And, a Paul Krugman. Or others.

"Others" including a "real socialist" like Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who is not yet highly impressed by Sanders.

And, per PDiddle in comments below, I'm at least some sort of semi-pacifist myself. And, I have blogged extensively about Bernie sucking too much at the military teat. PD's got more on his take at his blog. And, Sanders' website has full speech text.

Too bad he already co-opted himself by (on paper, at least) forswearing a third-party run.


PDiddie said...

The pull-quote I thought you would mention would be his "I'm not a pacifist".

In my advance yesterday morning -- before much mention in the press was made, and as you know there was no live coverage, even though they gave Hillary ample time in her 'jihadist" diatribe earlier in the day -- I expected some hawkishness.

Ultimately that's my dealbreaker. I am a pacifist, and to coin an oxymoron, I am a militant pacifist. 'There will be peace in our time, or I'll blow your fucking brains out' kind.

Gadfly said...

I thought about that as a pull quote. Or, beyond the MLK, doing an actual pull quote of his "coups" comment.

I am probably at least halfway to your neighborhood myself, too.

That said, for next week, since I've already talked more than once about seeing the need for a British NHS, I'm tackling this whole fear of corporate socialism nonsense. (Bernie, in his salad days, was one himself.)