Principles

“Our principles do not change. Justice is always justice; freedom is always freedom. Great principles are constant. And so what they call the ‘old way’ is nothing more than principles. And they say you can’t go back to the old ways — which means you can’t go back to justice, you can’t go back to equality, you can’t go back to what is right and what is wrong. Principles are how you exist above and beyond the emotions that you feel, to control and have discipline of one’s self. Self-discipline, not people making you behave, but the discipline where you don’t need police. That is how our people lived. There were no police. There were no jails. There were basic laws — you don’t lie and steal. Tell the truth. Be strong. Look out for your brother. Look out for the ones just underneath you. Look out for the elders. Use your strength on behalf of the nation, on behalf of the people. Conduct yourself in a proper manner.”
— Oren Lyons; Faith Keeper; Onondaga Nation
In a healthy society, the children are recognized as channeling the potential for human goodness, and the youth for demanding social justice. My generation — which experienced childhood in the 1950s and ‘60s — came of age in an era that included the struggle for civil rights; the ant-war effort; the women’s liberation movement; and the environmental movement. Also, not coincidentally, some of the greatest musicians and artists ever.

Many of us still hold the same great principles that we struggled for then. Thus, we were pleased when Senator Bernie Sanders entered the Democratic Party’s presidential primary. We have been impressed by the strength of the Sanders Revolution. There has been a re-awakening among many of old friends and associates from our generation. They are coming out of their “retirement” from social-political activism, and re-joining those of us who have never stopped the Good Fight.

We are encouraged by today’s youth, who have been an essential force in Bernie’s campaign. Indeed, history will record that in the 2016 presidential campaign, that Sanders was the only candidate who had significant support from college students. For they are demanding social justice, and based upon each of the numerous candidates who entered the race, only Bernie Sanders stands for the principles they respect and value.

As we enter the month of May, the Hillary Clinton campaign and its supporters will make increasingly more demands that Sanders suspend his campaign, and that his supports get in line behind their candidate. And, in the political sense, that is what usually happens after a tough primary. But this isn’t a business-as-usual primary contest — nor is it over.

Several Clinton advocates have “offered” what they mistake for a middle ground: perhaps Bernie could simply stop speaking about the vast differences in principles between himself and Hillary. That, of course, is the exact reason why it is unlikely that those who support Bernie Sanders would have great difficulty in doing.

Politics, the Clinton campaign reminds us, is the art of compromise. That is true, yet should never be used as justifying a person’s compromising their own principles. There are definitely a lot of good people who sincerely support Hillary Clinton; they believe that she is the most qualified and capable candidate in 2016. But there are many others — including in high positions within the campaign — who have no sense of shame when they compromise the principles they once held. They are clearly insulted by the fact that the Sanders Revolution is based upon our highest principles, and that we are not willing to compromise our selves’ — or our children and grandchildren’s future.

It is all too clear that the Clinton campaign — including the candidate — will have to address this issue at some point in an honest, even principled manner. Unfortunately, thus far, they have been invested in the worn and weak “you’re using right-wing talking points” bit. Pathetic. We aren’t concerned with the rabid right’s principles; hopefully, we all agree that they are corrupt. Still, we are very concerned about the business-as-usual lack of principles we see from the Clinton campaign.

“Business-as-usual” isn’t in play here. It’s not in the Sanders Revolution’s play book. It’s not an option. We will continue to move forward, right on into the Democratic National Convention. And beyond. Come election day, we will vote our consciences. Then we will continue the revolutionary movement, as the principled wing of the Democratic Party. We will continue to coordinate and cooperate with the progressive Democratic Left — those that in business-as-usual circumstances could be taken for granted by the Democratic Party elites.

These elites have believed that, like progressive members of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Left had nowhere else to go. Surprise, surprise.

Peace,
Patrick R. McElligott

Advertisements

Locus of Control

“What you think, you become.”
— Gandhi
In social psychology, there is a theory about people’s confidence in themselves, and how they, as individuals, deal with issues in their lives. Things such as “family of origin,” education, and employment status are taken into account. It seeks to measure what is known as the individual’s “locus of control” is.

These measures range from “internal” to “external” — with most people being somewhere in between. An internal locus of control means one believes that he/she can exercise a large degree of control in their life. An external one indicates the person views themselves as victims of circumstance.

While this is measured on the individual level, it has an impact upon groups …..including nations. It influences elections. Think about the two Democratic and three republican candidates currently running for president. Four of the five candidates talk about what they are going to do for you, people like you, and the country. And Bernie Sanders talks about what you and I need to do, and what he can do with us.

Thus, four candidates are hoping to appeal to voters’ external locus of control. Bernie is speaking to the internal locus of control. Four candidates are saying, “Trust me — I’ll do it for you,” while Bernie is saying, “Trust yourself. And we can do this.”

There are many differences between the supporters of each of the candidates. This is perhaps more true today, than at any time since April of 1968. Eventually that year, one of the most corrupt politicians in our nation’s history was elected president. The “young lions” of that era have become the elder statesmen that still have far too much influence in both the Democratic and republican party.

We need to quit looking for someone from the establishment to “save” us. They couldn’t, even if they wanted to — and that’s an open question. We need to depend upon ourselves. That is one of the best things about this Bernie Sanders campaign: he is asking each of us to step up to the plate. And so far, the Sanders campaign reflects the absolute power of the grass roots. That’s where real democracy is found — in the grass roots.

That includes your contribution. And mine. And those of all the people attending Bernie’s rallies, contributing a few bucks to his campaign, canvassing for him, and voting for him in their state’s primary. And it includes those groups that are joining together, breaking bread with people from other groups, and placing the common good first.

Just as there is a “shadow government” behind what is visible in Washington, DC, there is a shadow movement connected to, but independent of, the Sanders’s campaign. It is comprised of groups and individuals across the country, and our supporters from other lands. We do not have the economic advantages of those who work for Wall Street. We do not cling to the weapons of the violent, or shackles of the psychological prisoners. We do not engage them on the battle fields they choose. For we are insurgents.

No, we love the Natural World, and appreciate our role within it. We understand that human beings can exercise a wholesome influence that insures social justice, and enhances the quality of human life. It requires that enough people become dedicated to increasing activism within our various communities. It demands that we bring forth our best effort. And we are seeing that.

Keep on fighting that Good Fight!
Patrick R. McElligott

Friday Morning at 9 O’clock

“The future depends upon what you do today.”
— Gandhi
Three days after the New York State presidential primary, any discouragement that Bernie Sanders’s supporters felt should have lifted. Yes, Hillary won more votes and delegates. And yes, the system was compromised by voting “irregularities.” Yet, when we review the outcome — and the process that led to it — the Sanders Revolution is gaining strength.

Let’s start by looking at Hillary’s history in the state. After deciding to run for the US Senate, Clinton bought a home here in 1999. In 2000, she ran for the seat being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Initially, it was believed her opponent would be Rudy Giuliani; after he dropped out, Ricky Lazio became the republican candidate. Hillary won the contest with 55% of the votes cast.

Six years later, Clinton ran for re-election. Once again, the republican front-runner, Jeannine Pirro, would drop out; the republicans then went with sacrificial goat John Spencer. Hillary set a state record by not only winning 67% to 31%, but by carrying 58 of the state’s 62 counties.

But that wasn’t the only record Hillary set in 2006. Her campaign had spent over $36 million in what was by definition a one-sided contest. More, two months after her victory, Hillary transferred the left-over $10 million she had, to her upcoming 2008 presidential campaign.

In the 2008 New York presidential primary, Clinton beat Obama, 57% to 40%. More, she won 61 of New York State’s 62 counties.

Thus, going into the 2016 primary season, it was evident that it would be very difficult to defeat Clinton in New York. Regardless of if she remained highly popular with the voting public, her associates on Wall Street would be heavily invested in promoting her campaign. The fact that Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs were paying her a quarter of a million dollars for appearances behind closed doors suggests how close their working relationship has become.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has never been in the Wall Street social circle. The economic elite has never liked Bernie, any more than they liked the people of the Occupy movement. When Senator Sanders entered the race a year ago, the corporate media attempted to portray him as a nutty, socialist character, who posed no threat to the establishment’s candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Fortunately, the word “socialism” no longer scares that many people. Most thinking adults grasp that Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, public libraries, public schools, and city streets and rural highways are all socialist programs. Still, to some people, the mere word conjures up images of the Soviet Union and “Red” China, Fidel and Che.

In most instances, these are aging men who came of age during this nation’s “red scare.” And, truth be told, things such as the Cuban Missile Crises were scary. It’s interesting to note that had the president been either of the two that preceded John F. Kennedy, or the two that followed, there would have been a nuclear war that would have drastically changed human history. Without question, there are times when having the right person in office is important. Like JFK, there are the right people for certain times, as well as a few who would be right at any time. Likewise, there are wrong people for any time, and there are people who are wrong for certain times. And Bernie is the right politician, right now.

Today’s current situation may not appear as “dangerous” as the Cuban Missile Crisis on the surface ….but the combination of global climate change, a weak economy, and a gross failure in leadership adds up to a very perilous time in our nation’s history. Rather, it is a time that demands a different type of leadership than the establishment provides for.

Bernie Sanders is 100% correct when he states that we need a revolution to resolve these problems. The Sanders campaign has done an extraordinary service, in helping to organize the many different groups and individuals in our country that need to present a united front. Although we are a non-violent force, I like to think of Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman’s teaching that alone, we are like individual fingers that our enemy can easily break; together, we form a powerful fist that is capable of protecting all of our rights.

How powerful? The results of this week’s primary is an accurate measure: in less than a year, a candidate who was initially not given any chance won the vast majority of the counties in our state. Clinton won Wall Street, and continues to have the support of the cocktail party liberals. The accomplishment of the Sanders‘s campaign is real power..

Yes, I certainly wish Bernie had won all of New York State. But no, I am not discouraged by the outcome. Our opposition is pretending that the struggle is over, of course, but we should not expect that they would suddenly start telling the truth. For the Clinton campaign is rooted in the establishment, and serves as an advocate for business-as-usual. It places Wall Streets greed over your and my needs.

This revolution is a long and hard struggle for change. Our opposition will fight tooth and nail against social justice. But we won’t give up …..in fact, we are just warming up.

Keep on fighting the Good Fight.
Patrick R. McElligott

Monday Campaigning

Today, along with Derek Prindle and Jim Zurn, I put in a few hours of going door-to-door in the city of Oneonta, New York, to campaign for Bernie Sanders. In the past few weeks, the three of us have formed a good team, and pounded the pavement from Binghamton to Oneonta ….and many towns and villages in between.

Oneonta is perhaps second to only Ithaca as far as being an island of liberal-progressive culture in the conservative sea of upstate New York. It has two good colleges — Hartwick and SUCO — which enrich the area. Zurn and I have been attending progressive political meetings and rallies in Oneonta for four decades now. I’ve spoken at both colleges a number of times over these years.

In Binghamton, we had focused on a neighborhood comprised of low-income families, and college students. The response we got was overwhelmingly pro-Bernie Sanders. Today, we canvassed in a middle class neighborhood, and received pretty much the same response. In total, only three people said they were going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Two of the three were college students, canvassing the same neighborhood for Clinton. They were very friendly, and the five of us had a pleasant conversation on the sidewalk. We all agreed that we will need to identify common ground after the Democratic National Convention. The worst potential outcome, we know, would be having Ted Cruz somehow elected as president.

There was a single Donald Trump supporter. Perhaps coincidentally, he was a very angry white man. His rage was so great, that he was incapable of articulating anything beyond shouting, “Donald Trump!,” and glaring at us in disgust. We thanked him for his input, and moved on. This is not to suggest that all Trump supporters are thus limited.

If the republican establishment is able to keep Trump from gaining the nomination, my son Corey points out, a lot of his supporters would vote for Bernie, if he is our nominee. But none of them would vote for Hillary, if she is given the nomination. For within both of these political parties, there are growing tensions between the establishment and a growing segment of registered voters.

Somehow, the establishment failed to see this coming: even a year ago, they were promoting another Bush vs. Clinton contest, as if they were Don King, promoting an Ali vs. Frazier super fight. And more and more, the public began to recognize that they were dealing with the Dons and Kings of an elite establishment. But then, Jeb Bush displayed the regality of an inbred poodle, and provided us with the most pathetic presidential campaign in our nation’s history. (“Please clap.”)

What really stood out to all three of us today was the excitement and optimism of the Bernie Sanders supporters. Many of them were of our age group, and we all agreed that we are experiencing the same passions as when Senator Robert F. Kennedy ran in 1968. It has been our generation’s dream for many decades. We are happy that we are alive to see it, and to be part of the Sanders Revolution.

We are teachers and carpenters, social workers and attorneys, parents and grandparents. We are invested in making this country a better place for our children and grandchildren. We are men and women; black, brown, red, yellow, and white; we inhabit cities and towns, villages and “the sticks.” We are invested in making this country a better place for our children and grandchildren. And we are putting our minds together, and focusing on the concepts of social justice. That is power. That is real power, that money cannot buy.

There is something in the air in upstate New York. The three of us kept saying it to each other as we progressed. And numerous people we spoke with noted the same thing. Many of us have children in college, and we are expecting a good student turn-out tomorrow. When all the votes are counted, I will not be surprised if Bernie has pulled off an upset.

Sunday Evening

On Tuesday, April 19, many of us will be participating in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary in New York State. The choices are, of course, well-known to potential voters: Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton. Although Clinton is, as the establishment’s choice, expected to win by double-digits, for the past week, the political climate in NYS is making a Sanders’s upset victory increasingly possible.

Minister Malcolm X used to teach that if one places a sparkling clean glass of water next to a glass of toxic sludge, one could trust a thirsty public to make the correct choice. At the Sanders’s rally in Binghamton, NY, last Monday, film-maker Josh Fox — of “Gasland” fame — would open for Bernie. Josh carried a bottle of toxic sludge with him. It required no explanation for the crowd, many of whom who are environmental activists in New York and Pennsylvania.

When Bernie followed Josh on stage, he carried a sparkling clean bottle of water. Bernie spoke about the environment, and the climate-change crisis. Sanders is against both “fracking,” and the proposed pipelines that will crisscross the land. Bernie talked about the Native American understanding that human beings are part of the natural world. A few hours later, Senator Sanders was meeting with the Onondaga Nation’s Chief Oren Lyons, one of the most highly-respected Faith Keepers of the Haudenosaunee.

Bernie represents the sparkling clean glass of water. Now, let’s take a brief look at his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

It’s not enough to express indignation at the conditions in Flint, Michigan, where the water supply has been poisoned by lead …..when communities and neighborhoods across the nation face similar poisoned water crises. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was an advocate of the “Natural Gas Initiative,” and promoted fracking in thirty countries around the globe. As a presidential candidate, she has financial relationships with the lobbyists of energy corporations.

Liberals and progressives who are registered with the Democratic Party get to exercise their right to vote on Tuesday. We also carry real responsibilities on that day. We can bring about the biggest primary victory for Bernie Sanders on the 19th. Many of our family, friends, and closest associates in the struggle for social justice are not registered with the party. We’re voting for them. Lots of people are too young to vote. We’re voting for their future. And still others are casting their vote for Hillary Clinton, for a variety of reasons that, no matter how sincere, are contaminated by that glass of toxic sludge. We are voting for their best interest, too.

If each one of us makes sure that one other person will get out and vote for Bernie, we will insure our victory. If we triple our numbers, we will effectively end the Democratic Party’s presidential primary. There is nothing that we will do in the next 24 to 36 hours that is more important for the long-term benefit of our society.

As Jimi Hendrix sand, “With the power of soul, anything is possible; with the power of you, we can do anything we want to do.”

Keep on fighting The Good Fight!

Peace,
Patrick R. McElligott