No Child Left Behind has given us Bernie Sanders

Practical – and unsolicited – insight from a father and grandpa wanting to keep the revolution alive

By Michael M. Barrick

Update, July 11, 2016: Readers, please disregard my advise in Lesson 4. It is this simple: Hillary just won’t do. An inspiring campaign slogan is not, “The F.B.I. Director says I am incompetent and dangerous, but at least I’m not under indictment!” If this requires further explanation, do an internet search on Richard Nixon and Watergate. Or Ronald Reagan and Iran-Contra. Or Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

Bernie Sanders has shown respect to young people and their concerns, and that is why they so enthusiastically support him. But that’s not the whole story. As is always the case, timing is everything in politics. Bernie’s rise has coincided with the coming of age of the No Child Left Behind generation.

10278-Round-NCLB-Logo (1)Millennials, subjected to an ill-conceived reliance upon standardized testing that stifles the individuality of the human, will not – now that they’ve escaped from the system – allow themselves to be pawns again.

So, though Bernie’s campaign may soon be ending, the revolution his candidacy sparked will not.

First though, the revolution must overcome the disappointment felt by Bernie’s supporters. Otherwise, they will drop out of the movement to end the injustices caused by crony capitalism just as they did from school, whether literally or figuratively.

So, it being Father’s Day, I am exercising my personal privilege as a father and grandfather to offer a brief civics lesson, because my millennial children and friends know they didn’t learn it in school because they were too damn busy taking pointless tests (with apologies to the many extraordinary teachers we all know).

In any event…

Lesson 1: Politics is the art of compromise. If that bothers your idealistic sensibilities, remember…

Lesson 2: Politics is war without bullets (usually). So, if we are not willing to compromise – to seek to understand before seeking to be understood – then violence is the inevitable outcome.

Lesson 3: Hence, we who are part of that revolution to return control of our government to the people – who refuse to take our “Feel the Bern” bumper stickers off of our cars just yet – must accept that the revolution will advance only in baby steps for now. It will advance – but it is essential that it do so peacefully.

Lesson 4: We can’t abandon the ballot box. The fact is that Bernie’s not going to be on the ballot in November, barring something totally unexpected. So, the question is, of those on the ballot, who will advance the revolution, or at least not destroy it? Hillary. I know Gary Johnson is tempting; like Samantha Bee I agree with every other thing Libertarians believe. Ultimately, though, Libertarian philosophy is not good for the most vulnerable among us, and that is not in keeping with our national character. In addition, there are thousands of capable local candidates who are willing to advance the revolution. Elect them now, and in a few years, they will be advancing in rank and influence.

Lesson 5: Our republic allows free association. So, be civically engaged. Join a social/environmental justice group or use your art to make your statement. Volunteer for a campaign, learn about politics and put you name on the ballot the next time around.

In short, as the bumper sticker says, “Be the change you want to see.” You might want to start with the politicians that created and sustain that education system that screwed you over.

Bernie Sanders© The Lenoir Voice, 2016

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