Cartoon of Bernie Sanders

There’s a monumental shift happening in U.S. politics today, whether people like it or not. While the majority of Americans have been waiting for it for years – even decades – there are many others who remain vehemently opposed to the change. These types of people have opposed each other throughout our country’s history, especially whenever a major social shift like this takes place. These battles have been fought with words, weapons and feet in the street, whether it was during the Revolutionary or Civil War, the Gilded Age or the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement or the counterculture revolution that followed. It’s a dichotomy that can only be described as “uniquely American.”

Whenever these important democratic shifts take place, the side that typically drives the change is led by leaders and activists commonly known as “populists,” people who think that public policies should benefit the majority of people. You could even say they’re “People people.” Yes, the people who fought the British or worked to free the slaves or ensured basic human rights for all Americans were millions and millions of people joining together to support an idea that’s time had come.

Of course, the minority of people who are typically opposed to these changes are the powerful rich folks who control society, commonly known as “oligarchs.” Whether they were part of the British aristocracy, the wealthy Southern plantation class, the powerful industrialists or racist segregationists, these people usually have immense financial wellbeing on the line. So anyone in charge or at the top of such a system naturally wants to maintain the status quo – and will likely spend plenty of capital to do so. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have any allies, as even billionaires sometimes have to call on their millionaire friends to help them fight their fight. The good news is that every time these sides have faced each other in the past, the majority eventually prevails, because the 99 percent is always more powerful than the one percent.

Today, we face yet another pivotal change in the nation’s politics as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is poised to become the Democratic nominee for president in 2020. Unlike so many other “cult of personality” Democratic candidates in the recent past, Sanders isn’t just making his campaign about him – he’s also building a working class movement. It’s a movement that could possibly be as large as the ones that ended slavery or protected the rights of working people. It’s a movement fueled by a righteousness that once embodied leaders like Frederick Douglass and Eugene Debs. With Sanders’ growing swath of young, diverse and progressive supporters, he’s bringing enthusiastic activists into the political process and creating a new generation of congressional leadership. His movement is solidified for years to come.

So naturally, the oligarchs who currently control our country are getting nervous. They’ve tried to smear Sanders for months, if not years. Sanders’ ideas have been deemed as “dangerous” and he’s been called “unelectable,” but now it’s looking like those labels need to be updated. The oligarchy sent out their million-dollar media hounds to attack Sanders with negative articles, but the stories only made him look more like an underdog. They spent money on opposition research and negative ads, but those only helped Sanders raise more funds from small donors. When they finally sent in a couple of billionaires to take on Sanders for the Democratic nomination, they only made him look more presidential. Now the oligarchy and Washington establishment have started to unleash everything else in their outdated arsenal, saying Sanders is the candidate that “Putin wants” and Russia is helping his candidacy. He’s a Commie.

While it’s all as pathetic as it sounds, it does prove that the oligarchs are truly terrified. What Sanders’ movement is fighting for is on par with what the abolitionists fought for in the 1800s and what labor unions and civil rights groups fought for in the 1900s. Sanders’ policies would completely restructure the Washington political system and how it benefits the wealthy people behind it. Whether you agree or disagree with all of Sanders’ ideas, you can’t deny that he’s making some very powerful people very worried – and they’re running out of ideas on how to stop his movement.

Perhaps it would be good for the oligarchs on both sides to stop and study this movement Sanders is building, instead of trying to completely destroy it. That way these rich folks could understand why this major shift is once again happening in America and why it’s so popular this time around. After all, if Sanders is able to unite so many people from so many different backgrounds, then populists can prove to oligarchs that a better society is indeed needed.  

Then we can do again what we’ve already done so many times before.

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