By Manifesto Joe
At 74 going on 75, he's too old to run for president. He's a rumpled old senator from a small state, and the only avowed socialist in the Congress since Ron Dellums retired. He's an unremarkable speaker with a heavy New York accent. And he's unlikely to win the Democratic nomination for president even if he does well in forthcoming primaries, because the party machinery (soft delegates) has pretty much decided that Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee.
So why is Bernie Sanders doing this well? It's simple.
The recovery from The Great Recession didn't reach us all. The two groups that are suffering still are the Twentysomethings saddled with steep college debt and no jobs to pay for it, and the Fiftysomethings and Sixtysomethings who have too much experience and gray hair to be marketable. When Bernie talks about billionaires hiding their wealth, about big banks and megacorporations that take and take, and just keep on taking, the old fart is the only one talking the talk. And for those who aren't sure how they are going to make the next mortgage payment or make enough as a barista to keep from defaulting on the loans, well ... those people are listening.
The leak now known as the Panama Papers is only where the story begins. America's super-rich have been finding offshore tax havens for decades, and more names will surface. A 2014 Senate subcommittee report estimated that $150 billion a year in U.S. tax revenue disappears at offshore havens. Bernie is the only presidential candidate talking about this thievery; he's addressing an issue that nobody else, including Hillary, is talking about. The explanation for this is probably simple -- Bernie isn't getting money from any of the fatcats he's attacking. All the other candidates, including Hillary, are. Bernie's money is mostly coming from the hard-earned paychecks of "little" people.
The biggest reservation I have about the Sanders candidacy is that, even if Bernie were by some miracle to win, he would be unable to act on his rhetoric. "Our lawyers can beat up your lawyers," is likely what Bernie would hear if he were in a position to challenge the big banks. This is perhaps subversive talk, but I think it's going to require a Second American Revolution, i.e. violence, to right the wrongs that have surfaced in recent decades. The super-rich are simply not going to give up all that money and all those privileges without a fight. And they have the means to win a lot of battles.
But there's a long war coming, and the Sanders candidacy and its unexpected success is only an opening salvo. Capitalism as we know it is headed for a crisis -- this economic system simply can't automate and offshore jobs at the current rate and still have a population that can afford to buy the goods that the system is capable of producing. "Say's Law" is bullshit; supply does not always create its own demand. Our society is about to learn this; and sadly, it's probably going to be the hard way.
In any case, as lackluster a politician as he is, Bernie's the only presidential candidate this year who's really talking the talk. With Hillary, Americans are likely to just get Bill Clinton redux. That's better than nothing; but with disaster looming, it's probably just postponement of the inevitable explosion.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.