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The Rise of Sanders Claus 

Let’s preempt the Right on one of their go to tropes:

Here comes Sanders Claus, here comes Sanders Claus
Left down Sanders Claus Lane
Eugene and Franklin, Rosa and Martin
Pulling on the reins 

Bells are ringing, children singing
The public is merry and bright
Phone your neighbors and donate now
‘Cause Sanders Claus shines the light 

Here comes Sanders Claus, here comes Sanders Claus
Left down Sanders Claus Lane
Fair trade, equal pay, tax the rich
Living wage, racial justice, climate save

Imagine Peace and call out loud
Oh, what a beautiful sight
So jump to work and rock the vote
‘Cause Sanders Claus shines the light 

Here comes Sanders Claus, here comes Sanders Claus
Riding down Social Good Lane
He really cares if you’re rich or poor, oh
He won’t tax you quite the same

Sanders’ goal a great democracy
The peoples’ will to prevail

So fill your hearts with popular cheer
‘Cause Sanders Claus must not fail

Well, here comes Sanders Claus, here comes Sanders Claus
Riding down Sanders Claus Lane
Workers’ rights, humane immigration
education, health care for all
Meaningful democracy on the rise

Human rights the goal
Forego war for diplomacy
And check that gun budget cold

Yes, Sanders Claus comes this year
Oh, Sanders Claus comes this year!

Well that didn’t take long. From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy the Presidency in 5 years. Or so it might go. Bernie Sanders is the Occupy Wall Street candidate for President. In the approximate. (See Fran Shor for a closer look at Sanders and OWS.)

Sanders’ planks approximate Occupy demands. Some missing Sanders planks leave gaping holes that threaten the rest, including debt cancellation and ending armed conquest and imperialism. However, Sanders’ electoral opponents compare badly, both the Democrats and the Republicans. (The more progressive Green Party candidate Jill Stein has been disappeared by the corporate order.)

Yes, some of Sanders’ international and domestic policies and votes can sometimes seem only slighly to the left of Ghengis Khan. That has got to be changed. But the fact remains: Sanders’ opponents both the Ds and the Rs are all generally worse or far worse.

While most, much, virtually all progressive effort and time may be better spent working largely or entirely outside of the Sanders campaign because of the homefront1limitations, what would be better for social movements to engage, critique, and oppose over the next 4 to 8 years: a Sanders, Clinton, or Trump administration?

Pull on the reins and who knows? Social and political action and expression might move farther Left down Sanders Claus Lane than anyone could possibly conceive. It already has. A number of progressive authors (along with almost everyone across the political spectrum) gave Sanders’ Presidential bid no chance. Things have changed.

The Bernie Sanders campaign with its slate of limited yet uplifting and empowering socially responsible proposals and ideals now has a real chance to wield considerable power, to Occupy the Presidency, in a sense. Occupy Wall Street was beaten back and yet has achieved real and enduring victories. So too might the Sanders campaign with its now real chance to win the office.

I’ve always found it amazing that right wing criticism often mocks victorious candidates marginally to their left for running and winning as “Santa Claus.” Santa Claus after all, not a terrible brand or horrible idea historically – Saint Nick! – and still going strong, especially compared to its opposite, Brand Grinch. How about those Grinch song lyrics?: “You’re a mean one,” Mr. Trump! “You really are a heel” … “You’re a monster,” Mr. Cruz! “Your heart’s an empty hole” … “You’re a foul one,” Mr. Rubio! “You have termites in your smile” … “You’re a rotter,” Ms. Clinton! “You’re the [Queen] of sinful sots” … “You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch!”

Who else would oppose Santa Claus but the Grinch and the owner/ruler rich that run the country? How is the Peoples’ Santa Claus a bad thing? Especially when the Peoples’ Sanders Claus seems much more real than the recent victorious though mostly phony Santas. Those so-called Santas won the popular vote for President in each election of nearly the last 3 decades except for one, when a jokesy Ho, Ho, Ho Bush barely defeated John Grinch-face Kerry. What is the biggest gift that President Claus carries in his bag? The Peoples’ own demands, returned to the people as an act of justice, liberty, and equality. It’s in that direction.

Yes, the so-called socialist Sanders Claus is far too much of a capitalist with a big problem with guns at home and abroad, but at least he’s not one of the even more lethal gaggle of odious Grinches he’s running against. For what it’s worth, he’s ahead of them all in far more ways than one. He’s the Peoples’ choice on much policy, and increasingly so in the polls. And Bernie Sanders shows the most moments of being open to positive change. All Presidents are bad, speaking locally at least. Sanders should be one of the least bad Presidents in recent memory. It’s speculation at this point, but he might even break the mold to progressive ends, as opposed to Trump merely breaking the mold ironically.

At this point, it seems Sanders has a better chance of defeating Clinton than any Republican candidate has of defeating Trump. Why? Would seem because Clinton is perceived to be a Phony (accurately) – like all the (“Loser”) Republican candidates (accurately) – unlike Sanders (accurately). Why so much public support for a Phony like Trump? As a blatant demagogue, he is clearly the least fake, most real Republican candidate, since the (“Loser”) Republicans are pretending to NOT be demagogues and total shills for Wall Street when everyone knows the real score. Conversely, Trump flouts both his demagoguery and his extreme wealth, both of which make him appear new and independent.

Not only is Trump the most seemingly upfront Republican (in mostly horrible ways but consider the essential equivalency of the others), he also explicitly reserves the right to change in the future, unlike the other Republicans. Both Trump and Sanders are novel candidates, real novels, in being at least an order of magnitude less Phony than their current competitors. Like ’em or hate ’em, love ’em or fear ’em, Trump and Sanders are comparatively real and thus come across as both less insulting and less stupid than the rest; comparatively speaking they are real and bright and in these admired ways less contemptible (Sanders literally, Trump ironically), which allows them to implicitly and explicitly gut their intra-party opponents, and consequently allows them to appear powerful. They are powerful. Sanders and Trump now engender hope and change. They have the advantage of playing to their strengths, Trump as a real demagogue, Sanders as a real progressive – in a deeply paradoxical US culture – both competing against what is obvious to many and most: the Phonies, an increasingly moronic and venal and vile Fakery (behind which the One Percent hides, as much as any nuclear-armed bankster Gargantua can stage manage).

Regardless, candidates need to be more than popular and novel and potent and real, they need to be able to marshal funds and have campaign competence, and both Trump and Sanders seem real about that too.

Especially indirectly, the Occupy Wall Street movement has contributed great rhetorical and social influence and credibility to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, which has become part of a reciprocating cycle to social change.

Is the Sanders’ campaign currently draining precious resources and efforts from other social change efforts, and if so does the drain go beyond anything an ongoing or successful Sanders’ candidacy can offset? Or is the charge flowing in the other direction?

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