The Politics of Vision

Voter turnout in the November election was the lowest since 1942. Many folks have given up on the political establishment. The know that Citizens United baptized the privilege and power of the billionaire class.

Very few candidates stood up against the pejorative, demagogic ad campaigns that painted progressive candidates with a red brush. Most campaign ads focused on what the candidate opposed. Very few put forward what they stood for, as well as against.

But what if…. What if a candidate answered the question “What do you stand for?” very clearly? Something like this:

YES to raising the minimum wage.

YES to a massive jobs program rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

YES to transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels.

YES to pay equity for women workers. YES to overturning Citizens United.

NO to cuts in Social Security.

NO to cuts in Medicaid.

NO to converting Medicare into a voucher program.

NO to new trade legislation that sends our jobs overseas and hammers our middle-class workers.

NO to cuts to nutrition programs, education, or environmental protection.”

Someone did say this. Senator Bernie Sanders, (I), Vermont. How does America’s only socialist Senator from the small state of Vermont manage to get elected? How does it happen that conservative Vermont farmers and small business owners support him?

His “Yes” means “YES” and his “No” means “NO”. He is honest. He has a message. He doesn’t fudge the way Mitch McConnell’s Democratic opponent did in Kentucky when she re-made herself to sound tougher than Sen. McConnell on immigration enforcement.

Clarity of message is everything. So is honesty. Boldness. “Where there is no vision the people perish” [Proverbs 29:18]. Where there is (a good) vision, the people follow and thrive.

Traditional American values were not up for debate in 2014. Disgust was the issue. Anger was the issue. Distrust was the issue. Cynicism took over. Between now and 2016 we can expect more of the same. But there is also a national debate brewing about the vision.

“Write the vision and make it plain, so he may run who reads it.” [Habakkuk 2:2]

Thanks you, Bernie Sanders, for writing yours so clearly. I look forward to hearing others’ plain Yeses and No’s, such that might inspire us to run to the polls next time.


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