Schartzman: Big picture America (column)
February 11, 2016
Were the Founding Fathers to be witnessing our current day electoral process, they'd be spinning in their graves.
Determined not to allow the country they were birthing to be subject to religious rule and persecution, they nonetheless created barriers and balances that would reflect ethical, biblically-grounded governance — for, they were aware of the laws against graft, bribery and corruption that the Hebrew Scriptures promulgated.
To see what is transpiring with American campaign finance rules, or lack thereof, and to witness the huge amounts of money that are flowing to and through Super Pacs to underwrite and support individual candidates — in essence, attempting to buy the next U.S. president would — no doubt have disturbed them to the point of revulsion.
I am no supporter of Bernie Sanders, but when, in his victory speech following the New Hampshire primaries last night, he cried out for a revolution in this country against the frauds perpetrated by Wall Street, against Super Pac money and against those who would limit the abilities of middle class Americans to participate in and attain the American dream, he struck a chord and a nerve in this country whose force is equaled only by the "Make America great again," nasty, anger-venting, xenophobic rantings of Donald Trump.
Those who might discount the power of the Sander's prescription for cleaning up American politics, policies and perversions would do well to stop and take note of the success he is achieving with his message. When he decries the fact that banks and Wall Street fabricated billions in rip-off mortgage packages without a single soul having to go to jail for perpetrating fraud and nearly wrecking the American economy, he gets a hearing and great assent from the masses. When he demands that America repudiates the economic obscenity that finds the top 1/10th of 1 percent today in America owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, he gets a hearing and assent from the masses. When he proposes to spread American largess in ways that controvert Social Darwinism and Ayn Rand thinking that claim that the richest deserve what they've got because they are the fittest, causing and then taking advantage of a corrupted capitalist system, he gets a hearing and assent from the masses.
Sanders strikes issues of integrity and honesty with which most middle class Americans resonate: they're languishing in jobs with stagnant wages, sliding toward dreadfully under-funded retirements and having kids whose college tuition costs are now or soon will drown their dreams in debilitating debt; a crumbling national infrastructure and a health-care system that still leaves millions without and millions more struggling to pay for what they get; and an immigration system so broken as to break the heart as families are ripped apart and cruelty reigns in place of compassion.
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Those who would believe that Sanders has no chance of winning the White House had best check their conceptions of Big Picture America. No one thought that "The Donald" would get this far. Sanders has issues as well as their answers.
One hundred billionaires may try to buy this next election, but, in the end, the one who gets elected will be the one with the greatest turn out and support and, of course, the most Electoral College votes … that is, as Sanders points out, unless those who are attempting to foist oligarchy on our nation try nefariously to steal the election from the rest of us.
Rabbi Joel R. Schwartzman lives in Dillon.
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