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Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space

There’s a Yiddish term for what has happened to the Sanders campaign and its policy positions. It’s called being schtupped. It’s the kind of word that explains itself simply by paying attention to  how it’s pronounced. Indeed, not sufficiently vigilant of the rock group the Who’s warning of not being fooled again, we were indeed fooled again and fooled again exponentially.

The drafting committed of the Democratic National Committee, meeting in St. Louis, voted against Sanders representatives on the policy platform concerning the “Trans-Pacific Partnership, fracking, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine” (“Betraying Progressives, DNC Platform Backs Fracking, TPP, and Israel Occupation,” Common Dreams, June 25, 2016). The article continues, “At the same time proposals to support a carbon tax, Single Payer healthcare, and a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation were also disregarded.”

The DNC platform committee did propose, and that’s the key word here since none of these positions are binding, to abolish the death penalty and to break up big banks. There also seemed to be some movement toward the $15 minimum wage “promise,” and away from their original rejection of the somewhat similar proposal.

What’s happening to the Sanders campaign with its hundreds of thousands of supporters and campaign workers and its millions of voters is reminiscent of an incident that took place during the campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy for president in 1968. The McCarthy campaign had some parallels to the Sanders campaign it how both campaigns were generally ignored, marginalized, and devoured by the elite. I clearly remember leaving a campaign rally in a huge movie theater in Providence, R.I., when a professor from a nearby elite university verbally accosted a fellow family member, who was a prominent worker in the McCarthy campaign, and accused McCarthy of leading a kiddie crusade. I believe his derisive words were “You and your kiddie crusade!” All these many decades later it was the young who formed the base of the Sanders campaign in states where the senator won his primary election battles: Another “kiddie crusade.”

The 1968 and 2016 presidential elections are much different in terms of candidates, eras, and issues, but the similarities remain. The result of both elections, however, will be that a warmonger is installed in the office of president of the United States.

The Democratic Party has made its final transformation from the party of the New Deal and Great Society to the party of the fabulously wealthy elite. The concerns of those with student debt, those with jobs that don’t pay the bills, those who know that the environment will tank, perhaps in their very lifetimes, and those who have been traumatized by war all realize that this past primary season has been a dog and pony show and the “contest” is now between a dyed-in-the-wool fascist and a shill of the military-industrial complex and other giant corporations and financial interests.

The Democrats, like Obama, may use egalitarian rhetoric, but those at the middle and the bottom of the economic and social systems can expect more of the same from a Clinton presidency. There may be slightly more widow dressing, but that will be accompanied at the cost of more war and more economic and social belt tightening and produce some of the next batch of both political and religious extremists both here and abroad. Russia and China will be marginalized, punished, and pushed, and there may be some very, very dangerous push backs from those nations.

The Sanders campaign grew up in the ultraconservative political, economic, and social climate in which we all now live. The protest movement during the Vietnam war also existed within the shell of the larger conservative society. It had, however, to its advantage a critical mass of young people who were willing to take risks to bring about change and peace. That movement, however, for peace was relatively short lived.

Joe Hill said “Don’t Mourn–Organize!”, or words very close to those. There are candidates in 2016 who could take back the Congress, or who are running for other offices across the country at all levels of government as leftists and progressives. “Don’t Mourn–Organize!”

And in the realm of no comment that could possibly match the chutzpah of the person posting  an email to employees of one community college in the State University of New York system, I include this email that I recently received. I understand the grief that a person feels when losing a parent, but I believe that grief, and a person’s specific religious convictions, must not spill over into the constitutional boundary of the separation between church and state.

A couple of days ago my mother left her “earthen vessel” and flew to Jesus.  She was…  Though I’ll miss her, I am so happy for her!  She is finally seeing Jesus face to face and is beginning her eternal life in the very direct presence of God, the One with whom she already had a wonderful life-long relationship.  I and my… siblings rejoice for her, while thanking God for having given us such a terrific mother.

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Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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