Bernie: Keep Fighting On

Drawing By Nathaniel St. Clair

Senator Sanders. Sorry to hear about your heart surgery but it will make you stronger. We can’t let your opponents seize on this and imply that it proves something about your age or your heart. You have more heart than most of the dead-people-walking Democratic pretenders. A stent is a commonly used procedure to open up blocked arteries. Last year, 1 million people had this procedure and came out much stronger. While I have challenged many of your policies and even your worldview your strong heart has never been up for debate.

Many of us in the movement appreciate that you have pushed the U.S. political discussion to the left and have had the courage to bring socialism into the public debate in a country moving towards fascism. You have forced issues of economic justice into a Democratic Party long dominated by center-right neoliberals, including Joe Biden. You have challenged Wall Street’s and monopoly capitalism’s lethal consolidation and have earned their ire. You have had the guts to lead when others did not dare to challenge the unbearable and unelectable Hillary Clinton. Had she and the DNC not sabotaged your campaign—and yes, drove away your supporters as well as Blacks, Latinos, and women—there is a good chance you would have won the nomination and Donald Trump would not be president.

I strongly disagree with your statements condemning duly elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. You cannot condemn him and the leaders of other nations without helping Donald Trump’s and many Democratic hawk’s plans to overthrow the Venezuelan government. I hope you grasp the seriousness of that mistake and come back fighting for the right of self-determination of all people in the world, a policy of U.S. non-intervention in the internal affairs of other nations, and an end to the U.S. war against the world.

I don’t agree with your view of Scandinavian and Canadian socialism. Inside a world empire, we need an anti-racist, anti-colonial, climate justice socialism.

I know it is painful that some of Elizabeth Warren’s supporters are positioning her as a “kinder and gentler Bernie.”When the U.C. System moved to overturn the hiring of my friend Rudy Acuña, the father of Chicano studies (I suggest you read his Occupied America a History of Chicanos) another leading scholar observed, “In the world, there are the piñata breakers and the piñata takers. The revolutionaries do all the work to build and bust the piñata and others hang around to pick up all the goodies.” You have been a good piñata breaker to radically challenge the Democratic Party and you have earned the respect of many for that role.

So, get well. Do not rush back to prove to people you are fit as a fiddle. This is as we say a wakeup call. Another week or 10 days will not hurt. Just rest up, meditate, use this as a chance to regroup, and go back out to fight. You and Elizabeth Warren offer some hope and may the best person win. Keep up your civil and constructive alliance and competition. We need you in the race, so slow down, and then speed up.

With more solidarity than you can understand from people who want to challenge some of your views but respect what you have achieved. Keep learning and get better,


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Eric Mann is a veteran of the Congress of Racial Equality, Students for a Democratic Society, and the United Auto Workers and the author of Katrina’s Legacy: White Racism and Black Reconstruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He can be reached at eric@voicesfromthefrontlines.com

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