Individual Rights Exclusivism: Bernie Sanders


“We have to come to the clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”  Franklin Roosevelt, 1944.

At “Lunch with Southern Ladies” a friend asked with a smirk on her face if I were going to campaign for Bernie Sanders in 2020.  I didn’t expect it from her, the smirk, especially in front of five other women.  But, that’s when you smirk isn’t it, when you feel you are in sympathetic company, when there are other people there to buffer it.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t see the smirk before.  It reminded me of the smirks so frequently on the faces of commentators on the Cable News Channels when they mention Bernie Sanders.  (Not that they do that very often.  Recently, the strategy has been just to not mention him at all, as if he were not running.)

It was another example of how the attitudes and narratives pumped out on television filter down to the population.  The non-stop campaign of vilification, disrespect, condescension, derision and neglect of Sanders has had its effect.

The culmination of this recently was when an educated attorney, a former prosecutor, Mimi Rocah, commented on MSNBC that Bernie Sanders made her “skin crawl.”  She’s still, by the way, on the network.  Were she male, and had she said this about any other candidate she would no longer be on television.

I did not explain to my Southern Ladies friend why I am supporting, campaigning for, voting for Bernie Sanders, but if I were going to, I would recommend she read an article that was in the Nation Magazine by George Grandin.

Grandin talks about how fundamental to the ideology of the modern conservative movement is the notion that only individual rights have any standing.  Social rights – to health care, education, clean environment are dangerous.  The ideal society in their minds, and the one for which they tirelessly war, is one in which individuals, pursuing their own self-interest will somehow, miraculously, provide a society that functions in the interests of us all.  Anyone with a kindergarten education who thinks knows this is bull shit.  It was bullshit when the first settlers came here and destroyed the indigenous population and it’s bullshit now.

But, those committed to individual rights pit them in opposition to social rights and despise the notion of social rights in general.  They try to destroy any talk of, thought of, example of or advocacy of social rights as legitimate.  This is one of the reasons they have fought so hard against the ACA.

Grandin calls it individual rights exclusivism.  As he maintains, Sanders is the only candidate fighting against the exclusion of social rights from the discussion.  This and the fact that Sanders is the only candidate with a real class analysis is why I will vote for him.


Just a note: Today, Sanders is the only candidate talking about the fires in the Amazon and the destruction of the environment and the economy that will result from the rise to power of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.  Cable News doesn’t even cover international news anymore.


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