by Ted Rall
Seven Stories Press
I was raised by parents who found politics fascinating. They volunteered for John Kennedy, and my father worked for, and became friends with Max Cleland during the 1970s. Max was a frequent guest to our house, and because of all these influences, I have followed politics – and voted Democrat- all my life. But I have never been so enthused by another candidate as I have been with Bernie Sanders.
The 2016 Presidential election is one, as they say, for the ages- and we ain’t done yet. A year and a half ago, it seemed to be all but decided- a contest between two political dynasties, Bush v. Clinton, with Hillary ascending to her rightful place as the first female president after vanquishing poor Jeb back to Florida. And then Donald Trump happened. I won’t spend much time on him- he is either the greatest performance artist we’ve ever seen, playing us with his clownish running for office or he’s a dangerous demagogue ala George Wallace or Huey Long. Either way, he’s hastening the inevitable demise of the Republican party. Bring popcorn.
Thankfully, our choices don’t have to be between two power-mad centrists, and another election of “voting for the lesser evil” with the dramatic rise of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. His appeal – largely among younger voters and those of us tired of corporate politics foisted on us by the corrosive culture of the 24/7 cable news swamp and social media, which has turned vast segments of our citizens into Twittering idiots- has shaken the establishment of Washington to its core (as has Trump, but for different reasons), to the point that it’s no longer a foolish notion to think that Sanders has a definite chance of winning the nomination, and so doing, the Presidency.
Toward this goal we have Bernie, a graphic novel from one of Americas most valuable voices, political cartoonist Ted Rall. Rall, author of books such as After We Kill You, We’ll Welcome You Back as Honored Guests (2014) and Snowden from last year, chronicles the rise of the unlikely candidate, a socialist from Brooklyn, by placing Sanders in context. Rall’s point that the Democratic party is just another branch of the war machine/corporate power structure, having long ago jettisoned any “liberals” from their ranks, leaving only apologists for the 1% as being viable choices, per the Democratic National Committee and the propagandists on cable news. Sanders bucks that false option, with his lifetime of public service and common sense way of looking at our current, miserable state. This book is an easy to read, inexpensive look at “The Bern”, and one that can be shared with those on the fence about what is the defining election of our time. While Rall doesn’t approve of everything Bernie has done- he points out that Sanders voted for the war in Afghanistan, for example- he provides a clear contrast between the Democratic socialism of Sanders and the 1% pandering of Hillary- not to mention the sheer lunacy of the right, built on con artists and theocrats hell-bent on continuing the dumbing down of America that started with Bush and Reagan.
Now one book, or another rally isn’t going to make the difference- but together, they will combine to offer a legitimate alternative to the establishment “choices”, and hopefully open the eyes of the those who feel removed and forgotten, the shrinking middle class and the newly poor, and give them a voice. Bernie Sanders might not win- the odds (and the 1% money) are against him- but if he raises issues that actually matter to people- and in doing so brings the youth (and those of us embittered cynics that long ago gave up, even with Obama) into the fold, then he has done us all a great service. And so has Ted Rall with Bernie. But whatever your viewpoint, vote.