By Norman Solomon
Along with being where all blood goes, the heart is an enduring metaphor. As Bernie Sanders recovers from a heart attack, now might be a good time to consider some literal and symbolic meanings.
Bernie immediately used his heart trouble to advance a central mission. From the hospital, he tweeted: “I’m fortunate to have good healthcare and great doctors and nurses helping me to recover. None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!”
That’s the kind of being “on message” we so badly need. It’s fully consistent with Bernie’s campaign and his public life. (“Not me. Us.”) He has never been a glad-hander or much of a showman. He’s always been much more interested in ending people’s pain than proclaiming that he feels it.
About 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to dialogue with Bernie during an “in conversation with” event in San Francisco, where several hundred people filled the room. Before we went on stage, there was a gathering in a makeshift green room that raised a small amount of money for his senatorial campaign coffers. “I’ve never been good at raising money,” he told me.
I thought about that comment when the news broke a few days ago that the Bernie 2020 campaign raised a whopping $25.3 million during the last quarter, with donations averaging just $18. Bernie never went after money. It went after him; from the grassroots.
From the middle of this decade onward, as the popularity of Bernie and his political agenda has grown, so has the hostility from corporate media. The actual Bernie campaign is in sharp contrast with cable TV coverage as well as press narratives.
The campaign looks set to fully resume soon. When Bernie left the hospital on Friday, NBC News quoted the chief of cardiology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Ehtisham Mahmud, who said that the three-day length of hospitalization indicates the senator “probably had a small heart attack”—and “they require really a very short recovery time.”
So, from all indications, Bernie will soon be back on the campaign trail—once again hammering on grim realities that are evaded or excused by the political and media establishment, like the fact that just three individuals (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates) have as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire U.S. population.
Last month, in an interview about his proposal to greatly increase taxes on the extremely rich, Bernie said: “What we are trying to do is demand and implement a policy which significantly reduces income and wealth inequality in America by telling the wealthiest families in this country they cannot have so much wealth.” Such concentrations of wealth—and the political power that goes with it—are antithetical to genuine democracy.
For his entire adult life, Bernie Sanders has been part of social movements intent on challenging such profit-mad industries as corporate healthcare, financial services, mass incarceration, and the military-industrial complex that cause so much opulence for the few and so much suffering for the many. The enormous inequalities of wealth and power are systemic and ruthless—with devastating effects on vast numbers of people.
That’s where the heart as metaphor is apt. Bernie has a huge and eternally healthy heart, filled with the lifeblood of empathy and dedication. In essence, that’s what the Bernie 2020 campaign is all about. As he has been the first to say, it’s not about him, it’s about us. How much compassion and commitment can we find in our hearts?
Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and “Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State.” He is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
Can’t wait to see Bernie kick butt at the upcoming debate.
Can’t wait to see Bernie kick butt at the upcoming debate.
Noel DeLorre says
Just don’t ask Bernie to pay his staffers his recommended minimum wage without cutting back on their hours… “do as liberals say, and not as they practice.”
PS. His staffers are unionized and doing just fine
Kelly Ann A Markowitz says
They are the only campaign to have a ratified contract, including healthcare benefits.
Elizabeth Warren’s staffers are unionized. Bernie Sander’s staff are pressured into working unpaid overtime. It’s one way he and the corporations he rails against go about skirting the law when it comes to employment contracts and rights. And both warren and Sander’s campaign have been beset with complaints about harassment by campaign managers against subordinates.
Donald Trump Supporter says
Some nice sentiments, but Bernie is a ruthless communist who would gladly send the ‘oligarchs’ and anyone else who stands in the way of his ‘socialist revolution’ to the firing squads or Siberia. Wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to ‘socialism’ it is can only truly be implemented by violence and coercion. The pointy headed academics and journalists who promote it are amazed when they are the first one the ruthless reformers send to the gulag. Capitalism is not the best form of society… but believe me it beats socialism by many miles… Still have your Che t-shirt, I wonder?
So silly… Spreading FUD… Fear, uncertainty and doubt
Do your homework to understand what Bernie is proposing… it ain’t communist, it ain’t socialism.its democratic socialism and that’s a huge difference. The capitalism we have today needs to have some controls because what we are living has killed the middle class.
Darnce Ritchey says
Bernie Sanders is a confessed socialist/communist/atheist who spent his honeymoon in Russia. His enemies are Christians, Taxpayers, and American Patriots. He is an enemy of the American family and the American Constitutional Republic.
Where do you come up with this stuff??? He is not a communist or a socialist. He is a democratic socialist… understand the difference…
No one cares more about America’s working families than Bernie .
No one cares more for our veterans than Bernie.
No one is more christian in his beliefs than Bernie.
wrong… listen to his last clarification when he was explaining the difference between himself and Elizabeth Warren
Hogwash. Of course he has “good healthcare and great doctors.” And PRIVATE insurance. What he doesn’t tell you is that if he had been under his socialist plan, he would have waited weeks for treatment. And yes, let’s tell “the wealthiest families in this country they cannot have so much wealth.” Well, Bern, it’s actually none of your business how much money someone has. All that we deserve is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not free tuition, free health care, free abortions, free housing, free blah blah blah. There is no such thing as free, snowflakes. Someone is paying for it – and it is NEVER a politician. You deserve Life (enjoy it) Liberty (preserve it) and the pursuit of happiness (WORK FOR IT).
Brian, Sad that America, the richest country in the world, is so self centered… everyone doesn’t have the great opportunities you had/have. Private health insurance is for profit so the healthcare we now get in USA is mediocre and overly expensive. Healthcare for all would solve so many problems.
PS. did you know that the USA is the ONLY country where people go bankrupt from medical bills?
Mary Fusco says
Medicare for all, you do realize that in other countries that have healthcare for all, you are taxed up the ying yang , which means lower take home pay and the government in essence is managing your medical funds. You must be working to receive this care. There are stipulations for everyone. Unlike, the US, those who are capable of working and do not, will not have medical coverage. Nothing like medicaid. The grass always looks greener and nothing is free. BTW, the only people that go bankrupt are those who pay their bills. The rest are on a free ride. Nothing is perfect. I agree, a lot of the healthcare in this country is mediocre and I speak from experience. What is to say that it is any better elsewhere?
Something you might like to check out is Bernie’s plan, it spells out what you would get and what you would pay. Yes, people will pay so,etching but a lot less than today’s private insurance schemes.
PS Did YOU know that people from those “Universal Healthcare countries” flock to the US for their healthcare needs when the healthcare in their own countries are less than adequate or Johnny-on-the-spot?
There IS no “perfect” healthcare system. What we need to do is focus on what will best serve the needs of the American people, especially givn the fact that our demographic is getting older while the tax paying base will increasingly not be.
They certainly don’t flock here anymore… in the good old days, before Ronnie Reagan started the USA on the for profit healthcare path, we had medical services that were the envy of the world. This is no longer the case. We rank 19th in worldwide studies of healthcare quality and cost. Very very sad
Traveling Rep says
According to some of us here Canada and all the western counties with ‘one-payer’ health insurance are communist.
Traveling Rep says
If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…
Yeah, DARN Social Security and Medicare, eh? Public schools & colleges, everybody’s roads, those darn hospitals and free libraries! If corporatist ‘conservatives’ get their way, everyone would have to pay 500 times the price just to get all those things. They’ve already set us on the road to ruin – and the 100 year anniversary of the Great Depression, ALSO caused by a republican majority in Congress and the Presidency for decades, is happening. All the signs are showing how bad it will be for us all economically by sticking with ‘republican’ people-hating politicians.
Yeah right! Why isn’t Bernie advocating for the same identical medical coverage that he and other congress members have. If my wife and I had the same coverage as they do I’d be ecstatic with the quality of healthcare I was receiving also. Plus he is just another left wing wealthy hypocrite that is always preaching “do as I say not as I do”.
Oh, you mean the Congressional health care they receive, and Trump receives? How about this – pay $600 a year in more taxes for Medicare for All, save $6,000 a year back into your own pocket not having pay monthly premiums and deductibles. Sounds BETTER to me! Same healthcare, if not better.
The Realist says
It is unfortunate he wasn’t covered by socialized medicine. We could’ve made a sequel to the Weekend at Bernie’s movies. He would have finally provided some worth to our country as an entertainer/prop.
OK.. the author of this tripe owes me a new keyboard. I just spit out my coffee all over mine.
Yes Bernie’s millions paid for the great healthcare he received. Maybe he should have been rushed off to a county hospital and got in line with the rest of the people seeking free healthcare. He is just another do as I say not as I do politician. Everything is free why work for it. Take from those who create not only their own wealth but the wealth of others who they create jobs for.
@MedicareForAll – Don’t fret about going bankrupt from medical bills; if Sanders or Pocahontas should happen to win, the whole COUNTRY will go bankrupt. In 2011, Sanders published an editorial on his Senate website in which he stated “You are more likely to achieve the American Dream in Venezuela than you are in America.” Today, Venezuelans are digging in dumpsters for food. They have no food, medicine, or toilet paper. They are eating their household pets. Working for what you have is not “self-centered”. It is the American way. And yes, in this country, there IS opportunity for everyone. Some people just choose not to take advantage of it.
Bernie Sanders has “never been a glad-hander or much of a showman?” Oh, brother!
Gary R says
Bernie said, “What we are trying to do is demand and implement a policy which significantly reduces income and wealth inequality in America by telling the wealthiest families in this country they cannot have so much wealth.” Such concentrations of wealth—and the political power that goes with it—are antithetical to genuine democracy. BS! Bernie is a hypocrite. Why does he own three homes if he wants to reduce income and wealth inequality? Do as I say, but not as I do.
Bernie has done nothing in DC, 5 of the 7 Bill’s he sponsored where for renaming Post Offices. Yes he has co-sponsored other Bill’s but he has shown no initiative of his own. He talks a good game but hasn’t delivered, same old wants and needs but no way to pay for it?
Anyone who is “for” Medicare for all/Single payer, should come with me, ANYTIME, to the Local VA Clinic or even to the Regional HOSPITAL and see what goes on there. See how Vets are treated by some of the docs and employees, it is SAD. Please I would welcome it, and YOU would be APPALLED. I have FULL coverage care, yet I FOOT the bill for Private insurance cause the VA is a joke. I still have a tooth uncapped after 4 years, that has had to be “emergency” rebuilt twice, but maybe they can get me in in Dec for the capping. I have 100 percent dental FROM THE VA, BTW. I do not have Dental as that was lost when Obamacare came on line. Dental went with my Vision, and that is with Federal Employees BC/BS. I have also had to have 3 teeth extracted, cause, they “couldn’t fit me in”……..And If I were to go to the VA, which I have 100 percent care, THEY BILL MY PRIVATE INSURANCE, so I go to civilian care, at MY expense.
I ‘d be happy if I had the same “free ” health care Bernie has
It has now been announced that Bernie Sander’s daughter-in-law (married to Sander’s son, Levi) died unexpectedly this week from neuroendocrine cancer. She was only 46 but accomplished a lot working as a Neuro-Psychologist with the homeless and trauma victims of 9/11.
This must be a tough time for everyone who loved her, including Bernie Sanders. May her memory be a blessing.
Mr G says
He is a Communist ….. Our GREAT COUNTRY WILL NEVER ELECT A COMMIE….
Never Gonna Be POTUS BURNT OUT BURNIE….. GOD BLESS AMERICA
I have to laugh at the Trumpers who call Sanders a “commie.”
Talk about ignorance!
You have Trump in the White House who teams up with communist
countries to undermine and slander political opponents.
Who’s the commie here? Is that the American way?
Those who support Trump suffer from cognitive dissonance–pure and simple.
Simple like Trump–the serial Twitter babbler.
See y’all at the next white sale–bed sheets with eye-holes pre-cut
at half-price. Chinese-made MAGA hats free with every purchase.
Pence sure looks good as President now.
Elephant dung looks good as President now.
@A question for all the trumpholes
What is trump’s new rank in the armies of Russia, Turkey, and ISIS (now that his fellow dictators are murdering our former Kurdish ally, and freeing the ISIS prisoners the Kurds hold? And what do those dictators pay/blackmail him?