Bernie made a very brief, very wise statement about the election of Donald Trump.

He has a way with words, and with clarity of thinking.

Bernie,

  • who ran so competitively against Hillary for the Democratic nomination,
  • and who – we now have abundant evidence – was cheated out of the nomination,
  • and who many have for months believed would have pretty easily beat Donald Trump in Tuesday’s election,
The church in this country, those who claim to be believers in – that is, followers of – Jesus of Nazareth, had better make clear – to ourselves, and to everyone watching – which side we are on when it comes to hate and violence.
put it down in only two short paragraphs. I have added some bolding, made it into outlines, and will add a few comments.

BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 9 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Wednesday after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States:

Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired

  • of establishment economics,
  • establishment politics
  • and the establishment media.

People are tired

  • of working longer hours for lower wages,
  • of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries,
  • of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes
  • and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids

– all while the very rich become much richer.

Or as I read someone else, explaining it to key people on Wall Street, people out there (here) are really hurting, the powerful and insulated are unaware of it, and the “people out there” just want someone to do a cannonball into the pool to break up the calm smugness, indifference, and exploitation.  Although many of them might have preferred a different cannonball, they went with what was available.

It seems the cannoball has landed! The happy, self-impressed, clueless sunbathers are now scurrying around in shock and shouting at one another.

Bernie goes on:

To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.
To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.

This paragraph says two very important things, and I completely agree with both.

1. We must work with what we’ve got – and that’s Donald Trump.

And to whatever extent Mr. Trump will be open to support or cooperation from those of us who live by a different set of values, then to that extent he – or his actions – are open to being influenced by that different set of values.  “We” have to be there.

After all, who won the Republican primary – against some who are more radical and dangerous? Who in fact won the election? And that was with much of his own party’s establishment against him. He will not likely feel much obligation to them.

It seems to me there is real possibility of that. He would not be President-elect were he a complete idiot. Obama mocked him to his face. Hillary described him as practically the Devil. Bernie said the most important thing was to keep him away from the Oval Office. But now he is President-elect. Perhaps he knows a thing or two about strategy.

And he presumably cares a bit about providing some level of stability for the business climate. Maybe that presents an opening. It certainly needs to be explored.

Senator Sanders’ history shows him to be a man capable of effective negotiation and political strategy in very unlikely situations, and he has a long-standing reputation as an honest man. I am glad he is already committed to that approach in this, yet another, difficult situation. I hope he can get Trump’s ear.

2. We must deliberately and strongly resisit Trump “If and When”.

Senator Sanders’ history shows him to be a man capable of effective negotiation and political strategy in very unlikely situations, and he has a long-standing reputation as an honest man. I am glad he is already committed to that approach in this, yet another, difficult situation. I hope he can get Trump’s ear.
If and when he pursues or supports “racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies” we all must “vigorously oppose him.”

I still have a little trouble on this. Bernie did, after all, actively campaign for Mrs. Clinton, whom he clearly saw as a great and active danger to “the lives of working families in this country”. I guess I feel a little like Charlie Brown dealing with Lucy and the football. Still, I am very thankful for the statement, and find Bernie credible in making it.

I will go further. I at this moment find it possible to have a little hope even that Trump is not the idiot, or devil, nor such a panderer to the extreme right, as he appeared during the primary, and as Hillary and her agents constantly described him. After all, who won the Republican primary – against some who are more radical and dangerous? Who in fact won the election? And that was with much of his own party’s establishment against him.  He will not likely feel much obligation to them.

Perhaps more important, I see strong forces at work for good in our country,

forces we can mention but not really measure or define. There are vast numbers of individuals in opposition –
not only to the general high-level dangerous powers-that-be (e.g. the Democratic / Clinton establishment, long-term Republican duplicity, bullying and intransigence, Wall Street and oil company malfeasance, etc.),
but also, on the ground level, many are working against the city-neighborhood-street-level hatred and abuse that are showing toward all kinds of minorities – racial, religious, gender, economic down-and-outers, etc.

There ARE people all over this country who are doing what they see and understand and are able to do, to resist the hate and violence that have been part of our history and are part of our human nature. It seems to me those good people are actually stronger in this second decade of the 2000’s than at any time in my lifetime (which stretches back to the last days of World War II !). Some of them are in positions of power; some are quite visible even without any formal positions of power; and many of them (most of us) are “just ordinary people.” But this matters. We change the flavor; and now and then we can actually change the flow.

Robert Kennedy is supposed to have said, and it sounds very much like him:

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself;
but each of us can work to change
a small portion of events.

We have to stand with those being insulted and assaulted,

to whatever extent that is happening – and stand between them and their attackers.  The church in this country, those who claim to be believers in – that is, followers of – Jesus of Nazareth, had better make clear – to ourselves, and to everyone watching – which side we are on when it comes to hate and violence.

Trump needs to find ways to calm some of the dangerous emotional fires that flared at his rallies, and are flaring around the country right now.

If he does not, Sanders is right. We must “vigorously oppose him” and those evil-doers who believe they are doing his will, or have his approval.


Here is the statement on Sanders’ Senate web page.

Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media,” Sanders said. “People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids – all while the very rich become much richer.

To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him,” the senator added. “To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.


Here’s an article with a few relevant quotes from Martin Luther King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

Here is a sample:

… it is immoral to urge an individual to withdraw his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest precipitates violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

Of course there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians who were willing to face hungry lions …