By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — Stop asking, will ya?
Yes, I’ve accepted the sad fact that Bernie Sanders will not be president of the United States.
Some of that is on him, I must admit. He was fantastic with laying out the broad strokes of all that ails our ailing nation, he had a hard time when quizzed on the minutiae.
What a pity.
The details were there. They just could not be captured in a sound bite on the debate stage or even in an interview with Rachel Maddow.
And saying “go to the website,” while helpful for we the diligent few, amounts to bad optics.
In both 2015-16, and again in 2019-20, Sanders was grilled on how he was going to pay for his ambitious plans to level the playing field and he could never quite get a piece of that hittable curve ball.
And here we are. It took a pandemic on the level of the Black Plague and the 1918 Spanish Flu (even though Spain had nothing to do with it) to prove him right.
Locked up in our homes like the “Man in the Iron Mask,” with the economy at a standstill – an irony of all ironies, since your president (not mine) is like a savant who only sees life in dollars and cents without any common sense – the House and Senate voted on a stimulus package in an attempt to do an end run around a pending depression.
The price tag? Try $2 trillion.
For all those who asked Sanders how he was going to pay for it, guess what? You just did.
And at an amount well above his wildest dreams of free college tuition, health care and combat against climate change.
You can argue that it took a so-called act of God – coronavirus — to create the need for the elected leaders, grudgingly in a troubling number of cases, to meet the need in a one-time payment.
Sanders, and backers like myself, will respond that the human crisis was always there. It was just always neatly tucked away, out of view, while the mainstream media didn’t venture too far from the center lane to unearth the underlying issues that made us more prone to a scourge. It was a storm without a name.
People were dying of hunger, because of lack of health care and going broke just to keep roof over their heads.
The coronavirus is easy to talk about in its own narrow context, but not in a broader one. People are going to work, defying orders, because they have no choice. They have preexisting conditions, weakening their immune systems, making them more susceptible. This are issues all in Sanders’ longstanding, and unwavering, wheelhouse.
They are most vulnerable, and the most vulnerable now to the threat of a spread of the virus. It might interest some of you to note that, while I still get e-mails from the Sanders campaign, they are no longer asking for donations to it.
Instead, they are asking for donations to several organizations seeking to help working families, whether it is restaurant workers or Amazon workers or those who won’t be able to make their next month’s rent.
That’s what he has been all about for decades, and that’s what he is all about today. How and why he didn’t receive more black support (other than from, maybe, those in the middle class) and from seniors will keep historians occupied for decades.
I can’t help but mention that polls suggested Sanders might have fared better in the 2016 general election than did Hillary Clinton, who was more palatable for dyed in the wool Democrats but not enough with swayable people in the street.
What would that have meant now? It would have not have stopped the coronavirus, and no one should suggest anyone would, but a less archaic and nearly criminal healthcare system would have been in place to provide resistance.
Proactive testing — like in Iceland or Germany – would have happened sooner. People would have been able to shelter in place by late February or early March without fear of surviving, as a President Sanders (or Clinton, to be fair) would not have been in a state of denial.
But, while reality has now endorsed Bernie Sanders for president after all, he was a victim of his own inability to full articulate what he wanted to implement.
We – the so-called Bernie Bros. – always got it, but doubters needed more and never got enough candy in their trick-or-trick bags to wipe the masked smirks off their faces.
When they cried socialism – conveniently dropping “Democratic” from in front of it – he should have said “Nordic Model.” Instead, he repeatedly just copped to the charge and threw himself at the mercy of the court of common opinion.
And he never realized that the term “Medicare for All” scared the bleep out of too many people, especially seniors. He should have just said “universal health care” and left it at that.
As I age – I just reached a new demographic of “55 and over” – I have come to reach the conclusion that your legacy is all you have.
It equates to the fairy tale of ascending to heaven, just as a negative legacy equates to going to hell and no legacy to speak of equates to purgatory.
And Bernie Sanders, when history is written, will have a legacy that will prove him to have been a man a good decade ahead of his time. He will go down as the father of the modern progressive movement that may save this country from itself.
And one day, when someone like Alexendaria Ocasio-Cortez becomes president, his name will be fondly evoked.
Because of his age, he may or may not be alive to see it.
Let’s hope that we are.