This is the roughly 3,000 words I have written in response to the whole Bern or Bust movement… I was thinking of covering the entire primary campaign and then include everything that has been said or published about the movement after he dropped out… I started this before Trump showed us all who is and when I thought that the Bern or Bust movement could actually cost the Democrats the White House in November but now I’m almost certain that Clinton will destroy trump in the General election so I haven’t put anymore effort into this writing because I think it would be a waste of time. I’m sharing this to try to get opinions on whether or not I should continue it or not… thanks for taking the time to read it and thank you for any thoughts you might have for me.
Bernie Sanders, the junior Independent Senator from the state of Vermont announced on May 26th, 2015 that he would be running for president under the Democratic ticket. And as he proudly says on his website “Not Paid For By Billionaires”. And he has kept his word on that by funding his campaign through mostly small individual contributors. But what has he done to the Democratic Party? (Have to wait until after the election to answer this) First let’s begin with how he became the national news story that he is today.
It was a beautiful spring day in Burlington, Vermont on a May, 26. It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon with a temperature of 77 degrees. Bernie Sanders had gathered many of his supporters to Waterfront Park and he had a beautiful backdrop of Lake Champlain as he officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party Nomination to be the President of the United States. His speech that he gave would be drilled into the heads to anyone who watched politics closely as his campaign continued. He announced that he was starting a “political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally” mentioning the billionaire class 5 times by name in his roughly 38 minute speech. He also outlined his wanting to establish a single payer healthcare for all system here in this country. He also proclaimed how he would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He said he wants to make every public university tuition free. He said that climate change needed to be addressed. He also proclaimed that he would appoint a judge to the Supreme Court only if they agreed to overturn Citizens United which protects campaign donations as free speech. Another major policy stance he took in this campaign announcement was how he was going to implement $1 trillion dollars over five years to pay for the rebuilding of America’s failing physical infrastructure. He again reiterated his plans to demolish Wall Street and stop them from “gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out.” Following that statement up with “If a bank is too big to fail… it’s too big to exist.” He showed his position on foreign policy also which did not come as a surprise to anyone who has been up to date with American politics, making sure to mention his no vote for the disastrous war in Iraq. He would point this vote out constantly on the campaign trail.
Now the first instance of the use of the hashtag #bernorbust on Twitter can be attributed to Andy Ribaudo, a Seattle college student and Iraq War veteran who runs the Seattle College Students for Bernie Sanders Facebook page which has over 2,800 people who Like the page. It was used in a Tweet that he posted of a photo of himself wearing a “Bernie Sanders for President” tee shirt with the caption “Today’s the big day! w/@BernieSanders in Seatlle. Whose all going to be there? #FeelTheBern #Bernie2016 #Bernorbust” and it was retweeted by one person. He was referring to a town hall/rally that Sanders was putting on to discuss how to get big money out of politics, deal with obscene wealth and income inequality, combat climate change and make college more affordable. It took place at the Alaska Airlines Arena. He first spoke to the 3,000 people who could not fit in the arena at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion outside of the arena before going inside to give a stump speech to the 12,000 people who gathered there. His speech contained the following, mostly due to the fact that earlier that day he was interrupted by members from the Black Lives Matter movement as he gave a speech at the Westlake Center, “Too many young lives are being destroyed by the so-called ‘War on Drugs’. Too many lives are being destroyed by our system of incarceration. No President will fight harder to end the stain of racism and reform our criminal justice system. Period.” He also talked about “family values” which would include 12 weeks paid family leave after giving birth. He also was adamant about placing concrete differences between him and the Republicans who were running for the same office as he was. “They (Republicans) believe that women in America should not have the right to control their own bodies,” Sanders howled. “They believe that women in America should not have the right to buy the contraceptives they need.” He also put forth his goal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour saying “You did it here in Seattle, we can do it for the rest of the country.” And so he gave basically the same talking points he had been saying to packed rooms in Madison and Minneapolis, New Orleans and Phoenix. But Andy Ribaudo wasn’t at any of those rallies. He was at this Seattle one yelling and cheering along with the other 14,999 people who were there. He said he created the hashtag from the Revolt Against Plutocracy organization who has over 94,000 pledged to write in Bernie Sanders on the ballot in the general election. This grassroots organization was started by five people, all of them authors or columnist or self-proclaimed “political revolutionaries” , so although Andy Ribaudo was the first person to use the hashtag on Twitter he was inspired by the five people who are the organizers for Revolt Against Plutocracy
Now looking into Revolt Against Plutocracy has revealed who really started the “Bern or Bust” movement. It was created by a group of like-minded individuals who really consider themselves “political revolutionaries” but they are mostly writers and professors who were born a little too late to really be involved with the political revolutions of the 1950’s and 1960’s; the civil rights movement, the antiwar protests of Vietnam and of course the infamous Weathermen. They now are seeking to start their own revolutionary movement against the wealthy and the powerholders in DC. Their website states as their agenda three points of contention that they want to empathize; campaign finance reform by a Constitutional Amendment overturning the Citizens United v FEC, Buckley v Valeo, and McCutcheon v FEC as well as a campaign finance system reform independent of the Amendment, and higher taxes on the wealthy that they describe as “the top income and investment interest holders”. Since these are the only things that they believe in of course they don’t care if our country elects a right wing President, as long as it eventually completes the goals that they have outlined.
Victor Tiffany is the first member of the group Revolt Against Plutocracy that is mentioned in their About us page, so that leads me to believe he was the founder of it. His resume includes stints at The Amendment Gazette and The Syracuse Progressive Examiner. He earned a Master’s Degree in the Social Sciences from Binghamton University in 1984. He considered himself a Lincolnonian Republican until he switched his party affiliation to help Bernie Sander’s run for the White House. He now resides in Ithaca, New York and that is where he bases his political revolution from. His stint as a writer for the Syracuse Progressive Examiner could be summed up with one name, Glen Beck. He was a media critic for the newspaper and he focused all of his attention of the Fox News right wing pundit. He also ran a failed campaign for Congress in 1992. His real work as a political activist didn’t start until after the Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision which protected campaign donations by corporations as free speech. This is the only issue he fights for. The single issue he agrees with that Bernie Sanders has put forth; getting money out of politics became his life mission and he will do anything to accomplish this goal. He took a leave of absence from his job at The Amendment Gazette to focus solely on the Sander campaign and began writing for the Syracuse Progressive Examiner as a way to reach the most people as possible, writing his pro Bern or Bust articles.
Next is Patrick Walker, a new comer to political activism who spent most of adulthood out of politics but was awakened by the Bush Wars following the 9/11 Attacks. He came to the realization that you can ignore politics but it won’t ignore you. He became very focused on the anti-fracking movement in Pennsylvania during 2010 organizing a successful protest against Tom Ridge, a former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security who sold his connections that he made during that time to the gas industry and began investigating the protesters of the fracking taking place as “eco terrorists”. In fact it appears through my research that he only cares about climate change and this is why he supports Bernie Sanders. Even if the Bern or Bust movement will be disastrous for the environment… but it will be better than if pro-fracking Hillary Clinton were to win the White House. This is what he harps on in three articles that he wrote that have been pushed out by Victor through his position at the Examiner.
The next member of Revolt Against Plutocracy is Sabrina Giesler, a self-described “political revolutionary”. Unlike the two former members of the group she doesn’t appear to be an author or professor of any kind. A Google search of name only brings up a Facebook and LinkedIn page. According to her Facebook page which is filled with pro Bern or Bust posts and anti-Clinton posts she is from Cortez, Colorado. She also studied at Boise State University. She was also the Secretary for the Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Her bio on the Revolt Against Plutocracy page says she has been politically aware since the age of 12. Saying she marched for John Kerry in 2000, educating anyone who will listen to her about the environment, and simply promoting progressive ideas where they are normally not heard. Of course she moved from Colorado to Los Angeles after college before her stint as the Secretary for NORML of Wyoming so I’m not sure what she means by voicing progressive ideas where they are not normally heard when she has spent the majority of time working or living in very progressive states. Now as the mother of two children she has since resigned from her position in NORML but feels very passionately about her work for Revolt Against Plutocracy because she believes that her children’s futures are at stake in this election and that Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who will protect the environment and end the war on drugs, which has been a failure. So she is putting on her revolutionary boots and took the pledge to Bern or Bust and has been actively promoting others to do so as well through her social media outlets.
Up next is Charlie Hobbs, another self-described political revolutionary, who is also a college professor, earning a BA in Philosophy from West Georgia College and his MA and Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. As a researcher he has focused on American pragmatism focusing on the works of John Dewey, William James, and Charles Pierce. He has had his work published in 4 different academia publications. His work focused on pragmatism’s interconnections with Ancient Philosophy, its implications on death and dying and its influence on American anthropology. He has taught at Saint Mary’s College, Gonzaga University and Texas State University. Now that his academic accolades are out of the way let’s talk about his main focus when it comes to politics; that would be income inequality. He thinks by promoting the Bern or Bust movement that he will bring the top 1% to heel under a Sanders Administration. Of course neglecting the fact that all of his tax policies and his promise to increase the minimum wage to $15 a hour will never pass through a Congress that is right now in the hands of Republicans. He seems to be one of these intellectual liberals who are too busy studying and doing research and are oblivious to how things in the real world work. He thinks that as long as Bernie Sanders is elected that income inequality will become a thing of the past looked at the history books of the 22nd and 23rd century as something that couldn’t have possibly existed; much like how we look back on slavery and Jim Crow of the 18th and 19th century today. But at what cost? If he succeeds in his Bern or Bust pledge that has almost 100,000 signatures and nominates a President Donald Trump to serve as our POTUS I’m afraid that we won’t have a country in 2020 to nominate a new Progressive Party to the White House, which appears to be the Bern or Bust’s movement’s goal.
Finally, there is Susanna Peterson another self-described political revolutionary. She claims that at age 12 she was canvassing door to door for candidates and at 14 she begged her parents to allow her to become a Freedom Rider, which she was unable to do. Instead she sold buttons door to door in order to fundraise for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC. So she does have her roots in a real movement that made a difference in this country which is the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Her first real attempt at organizing a protest though came many years later in Aitkin County, Minnesota when someone at the State house thought that this watershed wetland county would be a good place to build a hazardous waste dump. So Susanna and others formed “FRiends Of Green” or FROG and through their organization they convinced the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that this type of installation was not appropriate for the county. Her other claim to activist fame came in 2012 when the state of Minnesota proposed an Amendment to the State Constitution that would require all voters to present a photo ID at the polling place. She began volunteering full time at TakeAction Minnesota, a local progressive organization that was against this Amendment. Here she sold tee shirts, bumper stickers, organized door to door canvassing, recruited phone bankers and spoke at conventions against this proposed amendment. She succeeded in that goal. In fact through my research Susanna is the only person in Revolt Against Plutocracy that I respect. She was around during the real revolutions in this country, mainly the civil rights movement. So it comes to me as a shock that she would participate in something so dangerous as the Bern or Bust movement. Knowing what is at stake in this election, with an opening on the Supreme court and at least another two to three more potentially opening up in before 2020 she is willing to put all that on the line in order to further this “progressive” movement which if it succeeds will become the most regressive thing in American history. It seems as though the former members of this group have talked and convinced her into their way of thinking, even though it goes against everything she has fought so hard for. And to not take away anything from what she has done locally which is quite a lot. I mean defeating her state legislature twice is nothing to sneeze at but she hasn’t made a splash on the national stage and perhaps she sees this as a way to make a difference on the nation as a whole and not just in her local Minnesota County.
It comes as a shock to me that all of this information is available on Google and yet so many Bern or Bust people voice their distrust towards the mainstream media but have yet to do any research on the founders of their political movement to realize that they are being used by single issue activists in order to further their own plans for what they believe is the right direction for America and will do anything to further their cause. Even if that means electing a Republican President who will undo everything that President Obama has done in these last eight years. Because they think that the four years under a Republican will be enough for all Americans to realize that the progressive way of thinking is the only way of thinking. And perhaps destroy the two party political system that has been running this country for the whole 20th and 21st century.
Before the first Democratic Presidential Debate on October 13th, 2015 Sanders had amassed an impressive amount of money through individual contributors $26 million dollars since July of 2015 and through his money saving tactics such as flying coach to his campaign events and not conducting polls he at the time of October 1st, 2015 had amassed $26.5 million dollars in campaign contributions. This cemented his place in the Presidential Election as more than just a fringe candidate who would push Hillary Clinton to the left on issues.
It was the evening of October 13th, 2015 when the first Democratic Debate was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. It featured the five at the time candidates who were running for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffe. Since this book is focusing on Bernie Sanders I’m not going to go in depth with the other candidates but just know that they were there. And for the first debate it got pretty heated between the front runner Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders defended his self-attribution as being a Democratic Socialist saying that America is set up as “a casino capitalist process by which so few have so much”. To which Clinton responded that it would be a “big mistake” for America to turn its back on the economic system that has gave its place in the world. She then took this opportunity to question Senator Sanders on his policy related to gun control. When asked if she thinks he is tough enough on guns she responded with “I do not”. Senator Sanders then took the time to clarify his stance on gun control that he supports stricter background checks, an increase in mental health screenings and treatment as well as closing a loop hole which allows purchases of guns to be made at gun shows without passing a background check. Before the debate a national poll showed Clinton ahead by 50% and Sanders behind her with 23%. The debate which was held on CNN and moderated by Anderson Cooper was seen as a victory for Hillary Clinton, but according to a CNN poll Clinton was now ahead with 45% compared to Sanders who was at 28%; he gained 5 points in an instant overnight.
The next Democratic debate took place a month later on November 14, 2015
That is where I stopped writing…