Friday, February 12, 2016

From Clean for Gene To Learn From Bern

Note from Karen:

Peter Smith, a friend from Buffalo, sent me this piece he wrote for Artvoice, an independent weekly.

 
(Originally published by ArtVoice. Reprinted with permission.)

Can "Clean For Gene" Become "Learn From Bern?"


By Peter Smith


Once upon a time I introduced Senator Gene McCarthy to an audience of students at Dartmouth during the 1968 primary season. The largest auditorium at the College was packed to overflowing – the stage was full of people as well as all the seats and aisles. When “Gene” came on stage the audience exploded.

Fifty years later another insurgent is challenging the establishment of the Democratic Party. In 1968 McCarthy did not win in New Hampshire, but President Johnson decided not to seek another term. In 2016, the question is whether a former first lady will, amazingly, end up without the Dems’ nomination just as LBJ did?

One of the most important unknowables right now is whether young and enthusiastic supporters of the “insurgent” can face a few facts and become a more cohesive political force. “Clean for Gene” was all about asking young men and women in 1968 to shed their counter-culture characteristics and go canvassing in clothes that would not wrong-foot them when they called on regular folks. They did so.

The equivalent today is surely to persuade young supporters of Bernie Sanders to get serious. I have been watching politics for a long time, and I cannot recall ever seeing the number 86 beside a % except in totalitarian countries; but 86 is the percentage of under-25 voters Sanders won in the Iowa caucuses on February First.  Imho that is stunning.

What “getting serious” means is doing something more than “liking” this or that on Facebook, or following a trend on Twitter. A few days ago there was a very important and totally relevant Op-Ed in the New York Times. In it, Tom Friedman gave a young Egyptian the opportunity to share with a wide audience his experience with using social media as a political tool.  

The nub of the matter is that while social media launched the “Arab Spring” and played decisive roles in the overthrow of Mubarek in Egypt and other authoritarian rulers elsewhere in the Middle East, the role of FB and the others in creating a new regime – anywhere – was very limited indeed, if not totally absent. Young Americans, engaged in politics for the first time in their lives in 2016 must learn a lesson from that history if they are to help the revolution Sanders proposes to lead.

The fact that - I am told – Sanders supporters are posting horrendous words about Hillary Clinton has to mean that his young backers have to ”Learn from Bern!”

The first thing is to learn patience. The first thing is to learn consistency. The first thing is to learn civility. The first thing to learn is channeling passion. The first thing to learn is persistence.  A great many “First Things to Learn;” all of them are options. Different people will find some lessons easy, and they can act on their new knowledge immediately. But all of them will need to learn all of them if Bernie’s work is to prosper and succeed.

If he wins the Democratic nomination he will win the presidency. And a large percentage of the 1% will have to figure out how to respond. I am sure I am one of millions who are looking forward to finding out what they make of it all.

***

  (Peter Smith was the director of the arts center at Dartmouth when he introduced Gene McCarthy. Before that, he had been a member of the founding administration at UC Santa Cruz; after Dartmouth, he worked at Columbia University. He has lived in the Buffalo area since 2002.)

26 comments:

Pearl said...

Hillary Clinton's Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsement approved by board awash in lobbyists http://interc.pt/1QaMJlb by @lhfang



I am repeating this important article since I thought it was printed but disappeared. Black Caucus PAC is not the regular Black Caucus membership.

Bernie Broad said...

Great story, Peter Smith!

Although I am not convinced that the Bernie Bros are even a tenth as rude as the Hillarians claim, I agree that a few lessons in "charm offensive" are probably in order for some of his supporters. And this doesn't mean curbing their enthusiasm by any stretch, or even getting haircuts like back in the day.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the online Bernie Bros may even be a creation of the diseased minds of Karl Rove and right-wing Hillarian David Brock. With every campaign season comes an invasion of sock and meat puppets from the Dept of Dirty Tricks.

annenigma said...

I tend to agree with Bernie that we have to create our own rules. The whole point is to bring about a paradigm shift, a change in the pattern, outlook, and structure of everything.

I'm sorry, but I trust the younger generation, not the older one who screwed things up, to find the right way to do this, on their own terms, for their own future. What 'worked' in the past has taken us on a downhill slide for over 30 years.

The critical difference between the recent past and now is that this isn't about one candidate or his campaign. It's a Political Revolution and it spans the political divide. The Establishment hasn't woken up to that. They've never seen it before in their lifetimes so they don't recognize it, nor do they want to see it, since they are enjoying the beauty and bounty of their comfortable bubble.

Bernie Sander is leading a historical battle against near impossible odds for the second time in our nation's history. The money and power behind the British Empire didn't give up when it lost it's control and ownership of the colonies. It's been insinuating itself into our democratic republic ever since then through the banking and political system, one Supreme Court case at a time, going back centuries. The capitalist American Empire is just the new and improved British Empire, and London is still the financial capital of the world.

But who won the last Revolution? The people did. But as most adults know, if something is valuable, you have to work continuously to protect it from being stolen. If you think it is secure, you'll be complacent until/unless you realize it's been subverted, overtaken, and corrupted for the benefit of a powerful few. The people clearly know what's going on now, thanks to the Occupy movement. The general public heard their message and took it to heart, even if the Establishment didn't.

In my travels since the era of Occupy, I've made a point of discovering people's political attitudes. I found that people from both sides of the political aisle, and in between, have for years been outraged and fed up with the entire system. They know it's corrupt and rigged and they want that gone. Compared to their sentiments, Bernie sounds reasonable and moderate, despite the scary labels.

It sickens them to see their children saddled with debt and under/unemployed, crippling their chances of ever having a comfortable, secure life. That's personal. It makes a deep impact when they hear that rare person of truth and integrity finally saying out loud what they're only thinking. Not only that but he's asking us all to actively work together to help change it. What other candidate has ever asked for anything other than our money and votes? None. Only Bernie. That's what makes it a Political Revolution. Hillary doesn't want, ask, or expect our involvement should she be elected. We assumed Obama did until he burst our bubble by throwing us under the bus because we were in the way of his true agenda, false prophet that he was.

Not surprisingly, the only ones who seem satisfied with the status quo are those who are financially comfortable and value their own economic security over the Common Good. They're the ones who advocate small, incremental changes, patience, politeness, even ENDURANCE. That's a particularly rich one.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

-Frederick Douglass, 1817-1895

annenigma said...

Hillary couldn't name one women she admired. When asked to name two people, she named two MEN!

Feminist Hillary seems to only have women in her consciousness when it comes to money, votes, and endorsements. She didn't name Madeleine Albright, Golda Meir, or even Eleanor Roosevelt whom she channeled with the help of psychic Jean Huston.

Pearl said...

Andy; Thank you for calling my attention to Karen's paragraph about the Black Caucus information. I was reading so many articles and columns while ill that I missed it. A very important point about Hillary's supporters. Sorry it involved black members of the establishment

Pearl said...


Young blacks more open to Bernie Sanders' White House bid http://reut.rs/241f9SM via @Reuters

Karen Garcia said...

Fyi: I removed Andy's comment because I miss stuff all the time myself, esp when I comment on Times stories at the crack of dawn and I helpfully include links that were, in fact, already helpfully included in the exact article I was commenting on. D'oh!

I am very "mindful" (god, do I ever hate that neoliberal word) that the political "discourse"(another one that should be banned) is more fraught than usual. I just got my head chewed off the other day for having chewed someone's head off for having chewed my head off over a grammar faux pas I had allegedly committed at one point in the dark ages of my misbegotten blogging career.

All that being said, Henry Kissinger-bashing is definitely fair game, despite what the supercilious NYT hacks dictate to us lowly plebes.

Pearl said...

Karen: I don't know how you keep your head screwed on with all the "discourse" that is pouring in and manage to write sane columns. I often send in articles that seem important and may be missed for that reason and appreciate others doing the same to try and keep track of everything. There are always articles in some corner that reveal something important connected to the larger biased ones that balance out the truth. Of course these important snippets of information are deliberately 'hidden' for obvious reasons or found in newspapers from other countries or our progressive press.

Good to get such an important article from Peter Smith who always had his head screwed on tightly. Thank you Peter.

Bill Sprague said...

This is brilliant and I am really glad to read someone "tell it like it is". If the young'uns are going to do it then they have to partake of some of the firsts that Smith enumerates. It's not all about thumbing up or down on social media, as Mr. Smith says, among other things. And it's not about voting for Hellary just because her gender happens to be female (any more than it was about Obama being a black man, right?) It's NOT a contest about "firsts"(first black man as President, 1st female as President...) Thanks, Karen, for passing this through.

Meredith NYC said...

Pearl...
thanks for citing the black caucus Pac endorsement of Hillary....i just saw Democracy Now cite this and show pic of Lee Fang who wrote about it. I want to read his piece. I didn't know there was a separate PAC in the Black Caucus and that it is diverse politically.

Democracy Now with Amy Goodman just had a debate between Black Caucus member Democrat Gregory Meeks, defending Hillary and Jeffrey Sachs, economist at Columbia, re his recent op ed criticizing Clinton on big money and foreign policy record.

Meredith NYC said...

Madelein Albright has a Times op ed today explaining her mean remarks about women who don't support Clinton. Here's a prize comment from Scott W--
" Hillary refused to support the woman candidate for governor, Zephyr Teachout, in the 2014 NY Primary. Hillary endorsed Cuomo and did not worry a wit about not having the first female governor. Never heard anyone complain that Hillary's endorsement of Cuomo was a ticket to Hell."
Bingo.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I am of two minds:

Liberals have been taking the high road since Jimmy Carter and I can't say it has done us a lot of good. All we seem to do is lose ground. The right wing establishment tells us we are being rude when we call it like it is and call them out on their lies. Yes, we are angry! And yes, we want change to come quickly. Incremental change is an expression that really translates to: sit there and wait while we give the other side time to regroup and come up with a counter plan.

However, I DO think that, sadly, many, many voters can be swayed by things like "good manners." Look at the backlash against Al Gore for rolling his eyes at Bush Jr for referring to the statistics Gore was citing as "fuzzy math." I too found the term fuzzy math to be disparaging, but all people were talking about was the eye roll.

It has bothered me how gentlemanly Bernie Sanders has been, always speaking about Hillary with respect considering how dirty her campaign has been. But it seems that the underdog, must always seem nicer and more sincere than the person considered to have more power.

My take on Hillary supporters is they are either Democrats who are quite well off financially ...hence they really don't want change ... or are Democrats who always vote Democratic in elections out of habit or long tradition. Hillarians seem to be offended that there are people in their own party who want to rock the boat. I expect there are Bernie supporters who ARE rude to them . . . This is probably because after 8 years of sellout Obama it is hard to believe there are still people out there that think more of the same is going to bring about a different result. It S exasperating, I must admit

When people in Australia ask me why I am supporting such an old man, a socialist, a nobody, I tell them that Bernie Sanders is the only person running for president who is addressing the issues that concern me most: corruption in politics, lack of universal health care, the TPP, the lack of jobs due to offshoring factories, the decimating of environmental standards, the buying of politicians and the corrupt, pro corporate decisions made by our Supreme Court.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

This is an interesting article sent to me by a friend as to why Bernie won't win . . . basically, he has to take the gloves off when dealing with Hillary and whoever runs on the Republican ticket. I thought it made good sense and is a nice foil for this post, which I also found interesting, http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/10/why-bernie-still-wont-win/

Valerie said...

Sorry, I linked the wrong Counterpunch article. The above is about the Superdelegate problem. The one I meant to send was this one: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/05/when-chivalry-fails-st-bernard-and-the-machine/

Anonymous said...

Great observation from Scott W. via Meredith.

Wanted to drop off this from The Intercept:

https://theintercept.com/2016/02/12/henry-kissingers-war-crimes-are-central-to-the-divide-between-hillary-clinton-and-bernie-sanders/

Includes a link to Greg Grandin's (author of the best-selling and beautifully written book "The Empire of Necessity") must-read article in The Nation.

As one of those non-baby-boomers who's not supposed to know or care about Kissinger, not only does it enrage me that Hillary seems to think of him as an elder statesman, but it thrills me that Bernie has brought this up and did a terrific job of explaining what was so desperately, murderously wrong with Kissinger. And he did it in a way that everyone can understand.

Mark Portier said...

Hand-Wringers Overheard Throughout US History

1770: “You guys, I get 'no taxation without representation,' I really do. It’s a cool slogan. But does anybody think a few colonists can take on the frickin’ King of England?"

1859: "I mean, I like Lincoln and everything? But he seems pretty out of the mainstream right now. Obviously, I’d rather not have slavery and stuff but I don’t know if such a radical candidate is the way to go.”

1871: “I love her to death but I wish Susan B. Anthony would try to work within the system we already have. Give it a chance. Fighting your way into the polling place makes people uncomfortable. Some things take time, is all I’m saying."

1932: “Geez, that FDR is pretty strident in his rhetoric, isn’t he! No doubt the depression is serious stuff with lots of peeps hurting, but he wants to do so much so soon. Sorry, I’m not feeling it.”

1966: “I can appreciate that he is an inspiring speaker who can attract big crowds. But how is Martin Luther King going to take all that poetic rhetoric and turn it into action? Please."

2012: “Hey look, I have lots of gay friends. I totally support them. But full-blown marriage? We have to be careful not to ask for too much. Civil unions are good enough."

annenigma said...

@Mark Portier

Exactly! Thanks for sharing. You made my day.

Mark Portier said...

Thanks, annenigma. Karen's columns -- and the comments here -- are a daily source of clarity for me.

Pearl said...


'Something smells:' Des Moines Register calls for audit of Iowa Dem caucus | Fox News | http://fxn.ws/20JFTEw

annenigma said...

If you want to enjoy a really good laugh today, read this.

'Trump v. Sanders: The First Debate'

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/trump-v-sanders-the-first-debate-213614

Meredith NYC said...

Mark Poitier. Thanks for your superb laff riot post--better than any nyt columnist.

Any comment on this would be appreciated.

After the Amer Revolution it was a prudent principle that only men of substantial property could be trusted to vote--- their stake in society protected them from manipulation, plus the masses lacked independence and judgment and they might vote to take away property.

Madison said-- " the first object of government is to protect personal property from confiscation. " (either by King George, or by the 'mob' of US citizens.)

Today the rw labels it as big govt intrusion into private property to have democratic standards of fair taxation, regulation and govt support of citizens' rights and opportunities.

Our politics protects the elites from 'taxation confiscation', thus enhancing the manipulation and influence by those with 'substantial property' (billions in corporate wealth) over govt policy.
So we've reverted back to the power imbalance BEFORE universal voting was allowed. We all vote, but don't influence our own govt.

The rw has convinced millions to vote for the party that aims to neutralize majority influence on policy making--to maintain our Freedoms!
Bernie Sanders should talk about this.

Are we fulfilling or contradicting original American ideals? Depends on when, and on the relative 'position of the observer' as Einstein might say. Or something.


annenigma said...

Hillary Clinton for Supreme Court! (consolation prize)

Jay–Ottawa said...

Here I was laughing my head off for one comment after another, and then .... and then the pitiful news that Clarence Thomas is now an orphan.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Obama's nomination of Hill to replace Nino must be seen as a colossal blunder further lightening Obama's weightless legacy. He'll can't tap her for the job. In the White House, Hill will be in a better position to protect (or pardon) Obama and his entourage from criminal proceedings that might follow in a Sanders administration.

Scalia from on high would of course be pleased to see Hill in his old chair. After all, she served as the "scalia" of the Obama cabinet. On the court she could fulfill a similar responsibility, replacing Scalia's steady hand on Clarence's shoulder as they further strengthen and enrich the strong and the rich. But that is not to be.

Just imagine Hillary's confirmation hearings. A senate free-for-all, with Republicans pointing out that Hill would be the fourth woman on the court. That's only a heart beat away from ending up with a court majority composed entirely of women. AR-15s and torches in the streets if we risk that. Easier to restrain Hill as the first woman in the WH than as part of an unprecedented, unpredictable estrogen majority on the court.

Here's what will happen. Obama in another stroke of genius will call Bernie back to the big oval for another supportive chat. He'll convince Bernie that the road to revolution is on the court. "As you can see from the past eight years, Bernie, my job is where effectiveness goes to die. Blame the founders with their damned "balance of powers" notions. They made this office toothless, which reality I've been able to hide behind my great big smile." And Bernie takes the bait.

The DNC will be delighted. Bernie's been sidelined. The excitable lefties will quiet down for fear of upsetting Bernie's new turn as a supreme.

And Hill? She will suppose she is once again the anointed riding the escalator to the top. Only one of the imbecilic clowns remains to be punched out in the general election. Of course, as the history books will later recount, she never saw that October surprise coming. Details forthcoming soon in the fall of 2016.

Anonymous said...

I believe you have to have a law degree or at least to have passed the bar.

Meredith NYC said...

Watch Democracy Now Feb 15 --video or see transcript. Intelligent realistic discussion panel on Scalia and the issues of replacing him and the possible nominees.

This discussion is so informative and intelligent compared to anything on any cable or broadcast news on this situation.

I can’t understand Justice Ginsburg being such close friends with Scalia over decades, whether they both enjoy opera or not. How could 2 people with such different views of basic, crucial matters be life long friends? Does anyone have any insight?