Despair is Not an Option

I heard Senator Sanders speak in Los Angeles this past March. He had my vote with his opening statement: “Despair is not an option.”

When he says those words at rallies across the country now, Sanders taps into an underground river of emotion felt by Americans across the political spectrum, a seething realization that our government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” has been replaced by a government “of a few of the people, by a few of the people, and for a few of the people.”

Incremental efforts have not been enough to stem the tide or thwart this overwhelming, well-planned and well- financed effort to de-democratize the United States. The Supreme Court hasn’t stemmed this tide; in fact, it has served it. The President hasn’t stemmed it either; in too many ways, he has served it. Today, for all intents and purposes, our government owes more allegiance to the corporatocracy – the rule of corporate interests – than it does to the people of the United States.

As Senator Sanders often says, people created this situation and people can change it. We the people spoke loudly in 1776, and we the people need to speak loudly once again. Today we need a second American Revolution, a non-violent overthrow of the same aristocratic nonsense we repudiated in order to become a nation in the first place.

We’re facing a homegrown version of the same pernicious archetype we dealt with over two hundred years ago — the idea that a few people are somehow divinely entitled to the major resources of the country, while everyone else must live off the crumbs that fall off the table after the aristocrats have feasted. When the major resources of our country are systematically delivered into the hands of a few, we have a big, big problem.

Corporatocracy is just another iteration of aristocracy, which was a bad idea in the past and is a bad idea now. The creation of wealth can be a good thing, if done ethically. The elevation of the rights of the wealthy above the rights of others, however, is inevitably bad.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “It is the general tendency of the rich to prey upon the poor.” Jefferson had a plan for dealing with that tendency, and thanks to him we do too. It’s called American democracy.

Thanks to that ideal, the power exists –frayed as it may be today – to rise up whenever undemocratic forces whittle away at the power of the people. We don’t lack the political power to turn back the tide of aristocratic forces now systematically dismantling our democratic freedoms; what too many of us do lack now is the energy to do it. Having invested so much hope in 2008 in a candidate who turned out in many ways to disappoint, it’s not easy to summon our internal forces for another big wave of revolutionary fervor. Nevertheless, we must try. Other generations did what needed to be done to preserve democracy; let’s not be the first generation to fall down on the job of changing America’s course when a course-correction is necessary.

Abolitionists didn’t succeed in the first round. Neither did the Suffragettes – or the Civil Rights movement, or the marriage equality movement. But they all persevered, and they all succeeded in time. We need to persevere now, because this is our time.

The de-democratization of the United States doesn’t just threaten one group. It threatens all of us. Bernie’s political agenda repudiates the new aristocracy. He can win this campaign, but only if we summon our internal as well as external powers to help make it happen.

The deepest obstruction to the revolutionary power we need for is not material so much as it is psychological. We need to take a stand against our own cynicism, lethargy, and distractedness. We need to repudiate any nagging sense that no matter what we do, it’s no use trying … that the game is fixed … that the billionaires will just keep buying candidates until the last nail has been put into the coffin of American democracy.

In Bernie Sanders we have an experienced, legitimate Presidential candidate who resists the multi-national corporate take-over of the United States, a candidate who insists that our government is here first to serve the people of the United States – not Wall Street, oil companies, chemical companies, defense contractors, Big Pharma, Big Ag or any other special interest.

We cannot legitimately say there is no one to represent our views. If we all show up and exercise our power as citizens, Senator Sanders can win the presidency in 2016.

(To be continued)

Marianne Williamson is an American spiritual teacher, author and lecturer. She has published ten books, including four New York Times number one bestsellers. She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area, and the co-founder of The Peace Alliance. She is also the force behind Sister Giant, a series of seminars and teaching sessions that provides women with the information and tools needed to be political candidates.

The views expressed here are those of the author.