Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders is the story of Sander’s run for president, and the detailed unpacking of his policy positions that couldn’t possibly have been conveyed through the 8 second sound bites the media wanted from him at the time. It’s a real shame too, because there’s not a lot in here for a rational person (i.e., someone not drunk on their party’s koolade) to outright disagree with.
If you followed Sander’s campaign, Our Revolution is full of interesting anecdotes casting events from the trail in more complete light. His feelings about his treatment by the media. His personal experience preparing for debates that didn’t go as planned, and how he dealt with his nerves. His endorsement of Clinton. From this side of Reddit, a lot of assumptions and theories about Bernie and his intentions were equivocated into the truth. But the reality was more nuanced and significantly more human. The endorsement in particular, which so many of his supporters were angry about, and I myself was disappointed by, make much much more sense when you read the scope and scale of Bernie’s vision. Although he doesn’t explicitly say it, his campaign for the presidency, at least in this election cycle, may very well have been creating a national platform and setting up a mechanism to spread awareness of our corrupt political system more effectively.
It’s not a short book, so it’s a bit hard to imagine how he wrote it in just the few months between dropping out of the race and election day, which came just a week before the book’s release. Perhaps some of it was already written. Bernie is prolific in a variety of ways, and perhaps writing is one of them. But, given that at least parts of the book were written during that short window of time, any discussion of the hacks on the DNC and the subsequent leaks, were conspicuously missing.
Likewise, so was any mention of the fact that Trump won. Perhaps it’s my bias, or my sensitivity to bias, but much of the book reads as though he is very much expecting Clinton to win. In fact, he probably was. Almost everyone was. That can be forgiven on account of the book’s release date, but the historical significance of what happened in this election warranted some words. Our Revolution, partly auto-biographical, partly how-to manual, partly historical, was really about detailing why, and how, Sander’s calls for revolution cannot end with his campaign. It’s a call for people to keep fighting for an equitable country for all Americans. As a reader in a world where Trump was just elected, this was the context I craved but was not given. Frequently I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah Bernie, with any other administration… but what about this one? Is it different?”
I’m hoping that Bernie keeps writing. And especially, that he shows us how to combat an administration that will try to undermine the very fabric citizens have used for forever to hold their government accountable. But in the mean time, this is an excellent book. American’s of all political stripes should read it. Not necessarily to agree, or to disagree, but to discover that there are politicians who’s primary concerns are policies they believe will benefit everyone. That doesn’t mean we agree with all those policies, but we live in a world where virtually no politicians have real policy opinions and real reasons for holding those opinions. Bernie Sanders is not a flawless person, and his policy ideas are not necessarily the best, but they come from thoughtful reflection on philosophy, research and science. They’re defensible, and held by someone who is honest and not corrupt. Regardless of party affiliation, that is what our country needs to be healthy.
Our country will work best when we have politicians of diverse opinion, who have wrestled with each other’s ideas, and the ideas of their constituents and formed opinions based on their integrity. Not politicians who are paid (directly or indirectly) to have the opinion they have, and wrestle with each other to distract their constituents. One of my favorite sections of the book describes this very well. Our media reports on the game of politics, the gossip, instead of the policy of politics. Flip on any news channel, and the political coverage will be about who said what about who, instead of what those two are actually arguing about. As if the gossip within the beltway has any bearing on the day to day life of someone wondering where all the jobs went.
I’m hoping more people will drop their party in coming years and will start to think like citizens. If you can keep an open mind about reading a book by a socialist, this is a good start. Progress, now, is not about changing opinions or getting some big-government handout, or even stopping some big government handout. It’s about basing those opinions and policies on our own thoughts and research, not just the Republican or Democratic membership card.