“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.
Patrick R. McElligott