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Explaining the Bernie Boom: At Minneapolis rally, many talk of an alternative to Hillary Clinton

MinnPost photo by Kristoffer Tigue
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders addressing the crowd at a Sunday rally in Minneapolis.

Six years ago, John Frasz found himself in a jam.

A truck driver, Frasz was legally obligated to drive no more than 11 hours per day for safety reasons. When he refused to take a delivery that would have meant exceeding that limit, his employer fired him. After searching for work unsuccessfully for nearly two years, Frasz began collecting Social Security early, as a last resort. “Here I am without an income and I’m thinking I’m going to have to live in my car,” he said.

On Sunday morning, Frasz was one of several thousand people who filled the Minneapolis American Indian Center to listen to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speak about his plans to seek the Democratic nomination to be president. 

A vocal defender of Social Security

Frasz went to the event because Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has been a vocal defender of Social Security for years, which is how the senator had come to his attention.

“We have people stashing money in the Bahamas, and in order to save the economy you want to cut my Social Security?” Frasz asked. “You want to cut Medicare from people?”

Sanders, whose platform focuses on wealth inequality, education disparities and the environment, drew a mixed if enthusiastic crowd to the American Indian Center Sunday morning, with people cheering fervently, waving signs and chanting the candidate’s name.

Some of those who showed up, like Franz, are already dedicated supporters, though plenty of others were curious but undecided. Many – whether they were already in Sanders’ camp or not — said they had come out because they believed the senator would make a better candidate than the current Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton.

“Bernie has issues for the common people because he’s a common man,” said Diana Steben, a Sanders volunteer.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ speech in Minneapolis on Sunday, courtesy of the UpTake.

Opposes TPP

Steben also agrees with Sanders’ opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed international trade agreement that many Sanders supporters believe would send American jobs overseas.

University of Minnesota graduate Jacob Herbers was one of those who is undecided, but said that Sanders seems like a good choice since he seems less influenced than others by lobbyists and corporations. And considering Hillary Clinton, he said, Sanders has “less baggage and is more likely to attract independent voters.”

John Frasz
MinnPost photo by Kristoffer Tigue
John Frasz: “We have people stashing money in the Bahamas, and in order to save the economy you want to cut my Social Security?”

Justin Tyler Andrews, who’s attending Philadelphia’s Temple University next fall, said his biggest concern is the country’s economic inequality — one of Sanders’ key talking points. Andrews hopes that, if elected, Sanders will reverse the Citizens United ruling, he said, which he believes gives too much political power to corporations and those with the most money.

Russell Forrest said he was attracted to Sanders’ stance on free college tuition. Forrest has four sons, he said, but after a stroke left him partially paralyzed and a run of bad luck left him homeless, he couldn’t afford paying for their college. “My sons, they want to go to school. Let them pay for my boys’ education,” he said. “I always think of my boys first.”

Andrews said he believed the country is heading in a bad direction, with increasing wealth inequality, continuing racial and gender inequality and rising college tuition, but that there’s hope in Sanders’ radical solutions.

“He’s offering to overturn Citizens United. … He’s offering free college tuition, and he’s offering for an actual universal health-care system,” he said. “If Bernie fails to get the Democratic nomination but still runs for president, I will still campaign for him.”

Russell Forrest
MinnPost photo by Kristoffer Tigue
Russell Forrest: “My sons, they want to go to school. Let them pay for my boys’ education.”

Comments (77)

  1. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 06/01/2015 - 10:18 am.

    There’s always someone…..

    wanting something for nothing. Mr. Forrest, my father had four children and we all paid for our own education. I paid for my children’s education as well.

    • Submitted by Nathan Fisher on 06/01/2015 - 02:15 pm.

      so your children

      got something for nothing? Even worse, you taught them the values of the mooching class?

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/01/2015 - 02:15 pm.

      Do you realize how fortunate you are that you could?

      I am increasingly annoyed at the all-too-common right-wing attitude: “I didn’t have any problems with this, so no one should. I did it, so everyone should be able to. I’m where I am because I made good decisions, but all those other people made bad decisions. I have what I deserve, and you have so little because you don’t deserve any more.”

      Maybe you associate only with extremely fortunate people. I associate with all kinds of people, and I know several who did everything right, who were law-abiding, productive people until their employer went bankrupt or their job was off-shored or they suffered a serious illness and were terminated. If it happened when they were over 50, it became almost impossible to find a full-time job. One friend who lost her job at age 55 after having been employed steadily since the age of 22 once phoned me and said, “Let’s go out to (a well-known pastry shop in Portland) to celebrate my 1,000th (yes, 1000th) job application.”

      None of these applications yielded more than temporary or part-time jobs, even though she was willing to relocate. She described what seemed like clear examples of age discrimination: phone interviews that sounded promising and positive, only to be replaced by a cold, dismissive attitude when the potential employer saw that she was older. She sold her house–which she had little equity in, having bought it only recently–and emptied her savings, and hung on by her fingernails till she qualified for a greatly reduced Social Security benefit at age 62. She continues to try for every job that she is remotely qualified for and occasionally picks up temporary jobs, but at 70, she is definitely poor–and will probably slug anyone who gets snippy about her use of SNAP benefits.

  2. Submitted by jody rooney on 06/01/2015 - 10:25 am.

    Anyone would be better than Hilary Clinton

    The democrats should look long and hard at other candidates without as much baggage as Ms. Clinton.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/01/2015 - 10:43 am.

    The Clintons

    Hillary is a cautious choice. But she is a compromised candidate, morally and otherwise. She is the candidate of the best we can do. We do understand that by electing Hillary Clinton, we won’t make things better, merely slow the pace at which things get worse.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/01/2015 - 10:47 am.

    The politics of envy

    will always draw a large crowd in Minnesota.

    By the way … ““We have people stashing money in the Bahamas, and in order to save the economy you want to cut my Social Security?” Frasz asked. “You want to cut Medicare from people?”

    It also requires that misinformed people be allowed to remain ignorant. Didn’t anyone at that gathering, including the reporter, say anything to disabuse this guy of the notion that anyone is going to cut his social security? Or Medicare? I didn’t think so.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/01/2015 - 12:16 pm.

      Cutting Social Security is certainly on the table. Jeb Bush talked about it this weekend, and Chris Christie has talked about it in the past.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/01/2015 - 02:23 pm.

        Raising the retirement age to 67 or 70

        for people who are now 40 isn’t cutting their social security.

        • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/01/2015 - 10:51 pm.

          And if there are no employers who want a 69-year-old,

          what then?

          • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/08/2015 - 08:01 am.

            There are employers today

            who won’t hire 55 year olds. What do they do?

            • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/08/2015 - 03:12 pm.

              What do they do?

              They sell their houses (if they have one to sell, and if they have enough equity in it to make it worthwhile), they sell their cars, they drain their 401(k)s, even though there’s a tax surcharge for doing so; they take any part-time job they can find, they go on SNAP, they STRUGGLE every single day after a certain point, hanging on by their fingernails till they qualify for Social Security at age 62.

              This is based on observing five of my friends who went through this. One of them brainstormed with me for self-employment, but all she could get were occasionally free-lance gigs worth about $2000 a year in the business where her skills lay.

              If these friends didn’t qualify for SS at age 62, I think some of them would have committed suicide, worn out by having to worry about survival every single day.

              That’s reality, as opposed to right-wing economic theory.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/08/2015 - 05:46 pm.

                Continual Learning

                The question I have is did these people stay young at heart and continually update their skills, ideas and knowledge?

                I agree that no one wants to hire an out of date low energy candidate who has been relying on their tenure to stay employed and well paid. I disagree that older people with relevant talent and skills would have a hard time finding reasonable employment.

                Of course they likely will need to swallow some pride and accept a lower income that is aligned with their skill set and capability. The incomes for many people rise too fast if they stay with a company for a long time. (ie Peter Principle)

        • Submitted by Margaret Houlehan on 06/02/2015 - 08:33 pm.

          Oh, OK

          Only that those of us just under 55 (I am 54) will get scrued. Allrighty, then.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/01/2015 - 01:58 pm.

      Not the politics of envy

      If someone offered to split a sandwich with you and took the meat, the lettuce, the tomato, and the soft part of the bread and left you only with the crusts, you wouldn’t be “envying” that person. You’d be righteously indignant!

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/01/2015 - 02:22 pm.

        If I earned a loaf of bread

        and you didn’t, do you deserve half? If I don’t give it to you are you going to say I’m selfish?

        • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 06/01/2015 - 03:16 pm.

          How do we define earning?

          First we have to understand what “earning” means. Take the Walton family of Walmart fame. Their combined wealth is $174.6 billion. ( None of them earned that money. They inherited it; they radically underpaid workers; they relied on public subsidies to cover basic needs for its underpaid workers. In other words, we can find examples within the current system of capitalism in which obscene wealth accumulation happens, not because of hard work or inventiveness or good business smarts, but because of accident of birth, through what we could arguably call legalized wage theft, and more. In a more enlightened economic system the Walmart family’s fortune wouldn’t have had a chance in the first place to accumulate.

          Are stockholders in Exxon earning their dividends? Arguably not, since Exxon underpays employees and is engaging in business and political activities that are passing on enormous carbon costs to future generations.

          Does someone like Romney earn his millions when he buys a company, lays off workers, breaks the company up and sells it off? Not according to my values he hasn’t. He’s simply employing currently legal methods to exploit others.

          With few exceptions billionaires never earn their wealth—they may earn _some_ of it. But mostly they take it from others through legalized means bolstered through economic ideological fictions. Is there even one billionaire who acquired his wealth without breaking the law, underpaying workers, abusing workers, causing environmental destruction, etc?

        • Submitted by jason myron on 06/01/2015 - 08:45 pm.

          Well, I do seem to recall

          a parable in the bible using that metaphor and answering both of those question, Dennis.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/01/2015 - 02:25 pm.

        Not quite how it works

        To make your analogy more apt, you would have made the sandwich for the other person, and they would take it all, telling you it must be your choice to go hungry.

  5. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/01/2015 - 10:54 am.

    What’s next

    What I would like to know is how the campaigns are shaping up. I hear all about debate planning on the Republican side, but nothing on the Democratic side. Are we going to have debates? And if not, what’s the alternative?

  6. Submitted by Judy Gibson on 06/01/2015 - 11:18 am.

    I Love Bernie Sanders

    I was feeling kind of ho-hum with the 2016 election. Hillary is OK and I will vote for her. But when I found out Bernie Sanders was running, a candidate whose agenda has nothing in it I don’t agree with (in other words I agree with everything), I jumped on the bandwagon and went to this rally. My husband and I were amazed a the huge number of people standing in line all around several blocks and switching back and forth around the park. This writer said several thousands – I would say many thousands. Now, what do you suppose all those people liked about Bernie. He is unapologetic about his views — very far left — and gives all of us over here in the same place a little bit of hope.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 06/01/2015 - 03:44 pm.

      and my hope is

      that Sanders reminds Clinton that being a liberal is why we want her to win. Something that Obama forgot along the way.

    • Submitted by Margaret Houlehan on 06/02/2015 - 08:37 pm.

      I love Bernie, too,

      but….if we do not give him a decent Congress (meaning get the TPers out, as well as the Blue Dogs) , he will be no more successful than Obama has been. I know Obama had good intentions when he was elected, but no on anticipated the backlash from McTurtle, Boehner, et al.

  7. Submitted by Terry Hayes on 06/01/2015 - 12:33 pm.

    Bernie is what we need to save America.

    Why aren’t there more politicians willing to stand up for ordinary people against the wealthy few who own and operate our country? It’s called oligarchy, rightwing sheep. Look it up. And it’s not democracy.

    So-called conservatives who blubber about everyone wanting a free ride have no clue what’s actually going on. It’s very frightening and very sad. Every working person, right or left, knows what we’re up against. Everything costs more and more, and we are earning less and less. If you live in a mansion in North Oaks, and don’t have to work for the money you make in the stock market, you probably don’t have a real good idea of how the majority of people in this country are struggling. We need more like Bernie Sanders.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/01/2015 - 02:26 pm.

      When the masses can vote themselves a share

      of the national treasury because they’re in the majority, that’s not democracy either, that’s mob rule.

      • Submitted by Ken Bearman on 06/01/2015 - 02:46 pm.

        So plutocracy is better?

        Apparently Mr. Tester prefers the way it is now, when money is speech, the rich pretty much buy and own the Congress, and the Congress ensures the rich continue to prosper.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/01/2015 - 03:36 pm.

        I’m afraid it is

        If the masses vote and pass policy because they are in the majority, that is the essence of democracy.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/01/2015 - 09:32 pm.

        DT Curious?

        As we are both X-Navy: This side got a GI Bill for College, “Fundamentally free” or an investment by our uncle Sam? As a guess, the additional federal tax revenue from our Uncle Sam’s investment, or free education on this sides behalf since ~ 1983 has been estimate $350,000 (~ 1/2 of what this side estimates would have been paid W/O that degree conservative estimate).

        From the other side good deal or bad deal for both sides?

        To the other comment: Is there not a relationship between tax rates and that the wealthy have brokered a political deal that allows them a slice of nearly everyone’s pay check? Or we over pay because they underpay? Or, they are the only ones playing fair and us common folks are all envious and cheating? If so, campaign contributions by the wealthy are to keep the game fair? EPA rules should not be so strict, the commons, air, water, land belongs to those that can afford it?

        Not necessarily complaining about this sides tax bill, higher taxes means must be making ok dough.
        Just curious.

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/02/2015 - 08:36 am.

          Your GI Bill money

          was a reward for your service. I don’t know what you got, but I got $644 a semester. If other people want the government to pay their tuition they should go put on a uniform.

          The purpose of taxation is to pay for the cost of government. An income tax with exemptions, deductions and varying rates is a tool that’s used by politicians to reward their friends and punish their enemies. If you’re concerned about the rich manipulating the system, then the best solution is to eliminate the income tax entirely and go with a national sales tax.

          It can’t be used as a tool by the politicians with exemptions and deductions and the rich will always pay more (if that’s your concern) because they’ll always spend more than the rest of us.

  8. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 06/01/2015 - 01:09 pm.

    radical educational reform is needed

    Ah yes, the constituency that wants “something for nothing.” It’s an easy thing to say, and if one doesn’t think much beyond that point one is apt to think that that statement means something, that you’re standing on some kind of important work ethic principle. Further reflection however reveals complexities that don’t submit to such soundbites.

    We should have free higher education. Why?

    1. Completing a bachelor’s, master’s, PhD or professional program already requires work—you’ve already paid for it with your personal sacrifice in getting it done. There’s nothing free about the degree in terms of one’s time commitment and foregone opportunities.
    2. In terms of pure self-interest, no one benefits from having to pay tuition at a university.
    3. You as a student may be paying for your university education, but the companies and organizations that hire you afterwards are not. They’re getting a free ride on your personal and financial sacrifice, and so is the rest of society. We all depend on an educated workforce to make and do things. When you call for every student to bear a large cost for their education, you’re simultaneously declaring that ‘I depend on the skills and talents and education that others have (doctors, e.g.), but I don’t want to pay my fair share in ensuring that we have an educated society, one from which I benefit’.
    4. Our expensive higher education system deters people from attending. If this is the case, and it is, you can’t also make generalizations about the United States being a ‘land of opportunity’, nor can you say and be consistent that you support ‘equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome’. Take your pick—free or affordable education, or a society that doesn’t reflect opportunity but opportunity based on wealth.
    5. We can easily afford it. A modest transactional tax on Wall Street would cover this cost and the vast majority of the population would notice nothing in terms of their income.
    6. People have a right to an education.
    7. Due to high costs and/or fear of not being able to pay back their student loans, many students give up pursuing their true interests and instead get degrees in things they believe will most directly lead to jobs that help them pay off their loans. This is problematic for several reasons. 1) When education is too tightly tied to the money system the diversity of people, ideas, talents and skills suffers. We need engineers to build things and solve problems, but also art history majors to keep visual literacy alive, and be advocates for aesthetic values, imagination and the arts. We need business majors (alas), but also philosophy majors, because hell knows we don’t have enough critical thinkers in society nor enough people capable of engaging in deep, rational and structured reflections on basic questions of human life. 2) When people are denied the opportunity to pursue their true interests, it’s a limitation on their freedom—their freedom to pursue their own interests, and also greater possibilities for growth. 3) When students feel compelled to choose a degree out of money-related fears, they may very well choose programs for which they might not have as much aptitude. And when your interests and aptitudes are not in alignment with your chosen work, you may not perform as well, your life satisfaction may be less, etc.
    8. There are more costs associated with paying for education it than not paying for it. As anyone knows who has a high load of student loan debt and isn’t being paid a lot in their job, if they have one, you put off buying a car, you don’t even think about buying a house, you’re afraid to start a business because you can’t afford to miss a loan payment, and you’re trapped for potentially years in work that you don’t like.

    Among the people I know who have outstanding student loan debt, one is in his 30s and owes around $80,000. Another in her 20s, ~$60,000. And one friend in her early 50s owes over $150,000. No one benefits from this state of affairs. It’s ludicrous and unsustainable, and calls for radical reform.

  9. Submitted by Jim Camery on 06/01/2015 - 01:48 pm.

    Yes, it was thousands

    I was number 2056 and had to sit in the overflow seating outside. Quite a few people gave up and pulled out of the line because he actually started on time (rare for a political event) and they were still in line. And yes, he’s unapologetic about making sure that the wealthiest country in the history of history can free up the money that even middle-rate countries seem to be able to spend on education and retirement.

    • Submitted by Margaret Houlehan on 06/02/2015 - 08:42 pm.

      Jim, I was there

      as well. Thankfully, I got there early and got a seat….and a bagel. And the bagel was free! See, Bernie wants to give away “free stuff”!

  10. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 06/01/2015 - 03:14 pm.

    Greed is good?

    Politics of greed or politics on envy? Do Americans really begrudge that people have made a lot of money by their honest effort? I don’t think so. Of course, those people should be happy to pay their taxes like everyone else, because they made their wealth because they live here – those who cheat the government by tax evasion are no patriots. However, if it people who got rich by cheating the system or living off inherited wealth, they really have no right to feel superior to anyone else.

    Where the rubber meets the road is poor children. If you think we should cut taxes for the rich and for highly profitable companies by taking away the little that poor children have, because of the accident of birth, you aren’t only a conservative – you are a GOP (greedy old person) who somehow lost your heart somewhere along the way.

    Is this a land of opportunity, or is it a playground for the rich who get the jollies by heaping abuse on the poor? Being poor, so many things can go wrong for children, and they don’t have any rich Daddy to bail them out like the George W. Bush or Teddy Kennedy’s of the world. What percentage of the rich in our society made their wealth from scratch, as opposed to having been born to it. How many so-called job creators are actually job destroyers? Wise up, America.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/01/2015 - 09:36 pm.

      OK Joel

      You get comment of the day award “GOP greedy old people”
      As Bill and Ted would say “Most Excellent Dude!”

    • Submitted by Margaret Houlehan on 06/02/2015 - 08:45 pm.

      Thank you, Joel

      But, in his defense, and that of his family, Kennedy recognized he was privileged, and fought for the middle class and for universal health care. Whatever their shortcomings were in their personal lives, all of the Kennedy men championed those who were not so well-born.

  11. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 06/01/2015 - 04:11 pm.

    Yup all I hear from

    Republicans is give me good roads, police to protect me, courts to protect my investments and enforce my contracts, a fire department to protect my mansion and cut my taxes so I don’t have to pay for any of it. The wealthy are the biggest moochers of them all.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/01/2015 - 05:15 pm.

      Except for the police and fire departments

      all of those things are provided for in the Constitution. (Roads via the commerce clause, courts to protect my rights from those who would violate them.)

      We buy fire insurance because the government fire department only arrives after your property is destroyed, so they’re a luxury we don’t need, and many cities around the country actually have private police forces that do their job better than the bureaucratic, risk-averse government police departments we have now.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/01/2015 - 10:59 pm.

        I think you’d appreciate “the government fire department”

        if you or your family members were trapped inside a burning building.

        The husband of one of my cousins was a firefighter (now retired) for a municipal fire department. He pulled lots of people out of burning buildings and burning vehicles at risk to his own life and was even injured in the process, as witnessed by the scars on his arms.

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/02/2015 - 09:46 am.

          Did you know?

          Almost 70% of the fire fighters in the U.S. are volunteers and are not affiliated with local government.

          • Submitted by Pat Berg on 06/02/2015 - 11:54 am.

            That may have to change

            Volunteer fire fighters appear to be “aging out”:


            • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/02/2015 - 12:39 pm.

              That says it all about the devolution of this society

              “Volunteer firefighters are an aging breed, and the next generation doesn’t appear eager to answer the alarm.” Let the government take care of me.

              • Submitted by jason myron on 06/02/2015 - 06:57 pm.

                No, what it says about society

                is that the one constant in life is change. People have lives and the family dynamic has changed. More parents (dads) are choosing to be part of their kids lives by going to after school activities and spending time with them rather than hearing about it later while staying within a response radius.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/02/2015 - 01:25 pm.


            Many-if not most-volunteer fire departments are affiliated with the local governments of the communities they serve. “Volunteer” just means that they are not full-time employees. In some cities they are paid when they are called out.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/02/2015 - 09:03 am.

        “Private police forces”

        I would be interested to learn which cities are finding that private police forces are doing better. I would also like to know why being “risk-averse” is a bad thing for law enforcement.

        Incidentally, roads are authorized federally by the Post Office and national defense clauses. The courts are there to protect everyone’s rights, not just yours.

  12. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 06/01/2015 - 07:01 pm.

    What’s to “explain”?

    Dramatic wealth maldistribution, and the consequent consolidation of economic and political power and control of the social discourse, is responsible for our rapidly vanishing “democracy,” the death of a functioning media, the wreck that fossil-fuel dependence makes of our foreign and military policy, and our inability to even begin to take any sort of collective action on climate change or myriad other less existential threats. Ms Clinton will make some noises about this cause and effect, but won’t do anything more about it than any of the Republican candidates.

    Mr Sanders is an honest and committed man and will make a loud noise, with conviction. I don’t expect him to wrest the nomination from Clinton but this is a rare opportunity to pierce the protective veil so that actual and simple truths about cause and effect can be put forward to reach at least some heretofore passive or confused ears. And if Sanders against all expectation were to gain the nomination, he would be a stronger candidate than Clinton, whose ties to consolidated wealth easily serve to hobble her attempt to present herself as more concerned with the common good and the ordinary person than her Republican opponent. When Sanders’ positions are offered without being tied to ideological labels, they are widely and deeply popular with the public.

  13. Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/02/2015 - 03:45 am.

    35th Anniversary

    There will, no doubt, be many quiet, low-key gatherings of today’s staunch Republican Conservatives this November to celebrate, commemorate, and lift a glass to toast the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and the great demonstrable gains the Movement has made since He opened the door to all that He made possible.

    To His eloquently inspiring, tear producing description of the Shining City on the Hill, to his brilliant summary of the situation that let all True Americans know that their government (of the people, by the people, and for the people) is not the solution, but the problem, to his tax cuts for the wealthy and United States Treasury Credit Card Spending Economic Strategy that has reigned politically supreme to this very day, those toasts will be made.

    And after that (and the roast beef, and the duck, and the wild rice and chocolate moose and a couple more glasses of good wine) a few cigars will be lit and the frank discussions of how there has yet to emerge another Republican able to fill His shoes, and who MIGHT be able to do that among the (oh so promising) 2016 crop will begin.

    Jeb Bush? Scott Walker? Marco Rubio? Ted (the Canadian) Cruz? Bobby Jindal? Lindsay (Boots on the Ground!) Graham? Rand Paul? Who who who do YOU think?

    And “Who do you think Karl (the Architect) Rove and Crossroads GPS and the Coca Cola Brothers and Citizens United dot org will wind up getting behind? And what are ALEC and Pat Garofalo thinking about next year’s solar energy and pollution control regulation dismantlement efforts? Do you think we should send them some money too?”

    And it will be great. It will be a true celebration and sublime contemplation of what the next 35 years will most likely bring because what could possibly go wrong?

    “Here’s to Ronny and 35 good sweet years and 35 more!”

    “Here here!”

    And right then, as if by magic, a long-ago selected and hired for the occasion barbershop quartet in white shirts, red ties, red white and blue striped vests and straw hats with red white and blue bands around them will break into “Happy Days Are Here Again!” and almost everyone there will “go crazy,” jump up out of their chairs and start dancing and singing and clapping along.

    And then the talk will turn to how bad they hope that, SOMEhow, Bernie Sanders will actually get the nomination.

    “Oh my God!” they’ll say. “Can you imagine!? Are you KIDDING me!? A SOCIALIST! Oh! Oh! Oh! PLEEEEEZE God! Let it happen!”

    But what they won’t notice is the 1902 Cadillac Tonneau pulling up outside the restaurant and the holographic-looking guy in the bowler hat, round wire-rimmed glasses, mustache and buffalo coat climbing out, walking through the front door into the lobby and heading their way.

    And very few of the celebrators will notice him until he steps up on the small stage, shoos the quartet aside, steps to the microphone and says,

    “Good evening ladies and gentlemen… I’ve made my relatively arduous way here this evening to remind you of something important that the Grand Old Party used to stand for that I’m afraid you seem to have forgotten.

    “First of all, I want you to know that I’ve been paying attention. Close attention. And one thing I’ve noticed is the way in which many of you hold disdain for, and cast rhetorical aspersions on, those you call ‘liberals,’ or, in your minds, apparently worse, ‘progressives.’

    “Please. Allow me to refresh your memories… As you may recall, at the end of the nineteenth century, when I was hitting my stride and the beginnings of my prime, Progressivism emerged as a political movement in response to significant economic, social, and political inequalities. Although many members of the Grand Old Party were baffled and bemused by it, and gave it no credit, I understood immediately that Progressives were many, and that they were advocating for many different reforms, their central, shared idea being the government should lead efforts to change society’s ills. Up until then, the general consensus was that social or economic ills were best solved through private efforts. But I watched with a keen eye as muckraking journalists and intellectuals publicized these issues through newspapers and lectures, and protesters and activists began affecting modest change across the country.

    “These people – these Progressives – sought the elimination of government corruption, women’s suffrage, social welfare, prison reform, prohibition, and civil liberties. They advocated for the promotion of public health initiatives and universal education that would benefit everyone, especially the poor and immigrants.

    “And so, when our dearly illustrious but unfortunate President McKinley was assassinated in 1901 and I was duty-bound to take his place in the highest office of this great land, I well recognized that progressivism had, for good reason, become a powerful national movement which I, with glad heart, championed for all I was worth. Much to many of the Grand Old Party’s surprise, I became a loud, and some say, effective advocate for so-called ‘trust-busting’ which, in the end, broke up the enormous monopolies of the day that had controlled prices and prevented competition. I also advocated for fair trade and pro-labor laws which included a decreased workweek, child labor restrictions, and workplace safety rules.

    “And so I come here tonight to say I am somewhat dismayed to see how far the Grand Old Party seems to have strayed from that course that I and so many worked so hard to set for this great nation. So often over the recent years it has seemed to me that the ghosts of those who preceded me and the millions of Americans who rallied ’round the Progressive idea have risen from their graves for the specific purpose of influencing the minds and hearts of those who have laid claim to today’s rendition of the party I helped lead into what proved to be a brighter, more progressive, future for countless Americans that came after us. Often I’ve thought those sour old ghosts have done that – if that is actually what has happened – out of nothing more than spite, as if they have been doing what they can to take their revenge on me for nothing more consequential than busting their gluttonous trusts in hopes of helping the majority of their fellow Americans not only survive, but someday thrive which many many of them, their children and grandchildren were able to do compared to those who had come before them.

    “And, if I may add, none of those whose monopolies were broken up suffered financially to any noticeable degree which is why I’m surprised at their vengefulness, if that’s what it is which it may not be because who really knows about such things as ghosts, but I digress.

    “In closing let me say, thank-you for hearing me out. If you consider yourself a proud American – as well you should – please give consideration to what I’ve said.

    “I bid you a bully good night.”

  14. Submitted by John Appelen on 06/02/2015 - 08:26 am.

    I Like Bernie, he is honest about who he is and what he wants.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/03/2015 - 08:07 am.


      Does it make people anxious here that you are cheering on a Democratic Socialist?

      I am curious because whenever I bring up the DSA I am told that they are totally different from the Democrats, yet many comments here seem often to be aligned with the DSA’s stated views. My readers often remind me that the Democrats are not as far left as the more Liberal commenters on Minnpost.

      In a mixed economy, where do we cross the line from a Capitalistic leaning society into a Democratic Socialistic society? Thoughts?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/03/2015 - 09:29 am.

        “Does it make people anxious . . .”

        Speaking only for myself, no, it does not.

        Did you think it would? Did you imagine that the fact that Senator Sanders is a socialist would come as a surprise to anyone here?

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/03/2015 - 01:43 pm.

          Not really, I was curious though if commenters here were okay with the idea that many of their views are aligned with the DSA? Usually when I point this out I am told how incorrect I am.

          I have a view that people like to consider themselves normal and centered. It seems to be a bit challenging for people to sanction that they are far right or far left. And since we often hang out and listen to people who have like views, it is an easy belief to reinforce.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/03/2015 - 02:18 pm.

            Why would you wonder?

            I’m not sure why you think it would matter to many commenters’ that their views “are aligned with the DSA.”

            While many people like to consider themselves “normal and centered (are the two necessarily synonymous?),” I don’t think the fact that a “far rightist” or “far leftist” has some of the same opinions is going to phase them too much. It’s a little like mentioning that Karl Marx advocated a graduated income tax and thinking that alone is going to change anyone’s mind.

            Incidentally, when you get past labels and ask about real issues, Bernie Sanders is is not that far from the positions of a lot of Americans:

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/03/2015 - 03:36 pm.


              And you question some of my sources… Thank you for the amusing article. I am truly curious who they surveyed to get those results… I mean 50% want single payer. Really…

              • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/03/2015 - 08:20 pm.

                The percentage would be probably higher

                if they polled only people who have lived in a developed country overseas.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/04/2015 - 09:34 am.


                Follow the links for the surveys.

                It’s easy to get into a bubble and think the world agrees with you. The American people as a whole are not as enamored of free-for-all capitalism as you might want to think.

      • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 06/03/2015 - 10:49 am.

        John, I don’t understand the question.

        The battle is endless between “Right” and “Left” but you can look forever and not find any attempt in the popular discourse to define the terms coherently, aside from their lying either side of an imaginary “center” that is always being pulled Rightward by the messaging of concentrated wealth and the corporate media (see “Overton Window”).

        I have a conceptual framework that makes sense to me. One end – the far Right end – is no redistribution of initial endowments, no collective constraint on private transactions and no redistribution of the allocations resulting from those transactions. The other end – the far Left end – is full consensus of all society members on decisions as to the allocation of inputs to economic activity and the allocation of the resulting wealth. These absolute poles are heuristic and not meaningful as choices – the first ends in Totalitarianism, the second ends nowhere because it never gets started. By my framework, I’m squarely in the middle: the mix of balance of private and collective economic prerogatives that maximizes the capacity of people in the society to live decent and self-determined lives (i.e., “freedom”).

        So I don’t know what a “Capitalistic leaning” society is nor do I agree that there’s a boundary between “Capitalistic leaning” and “Democratic Socialistic.” It’s a continuum, and it’s about finding the right place on the continuum. Mr. Sanders is certainly a lot closer to that center than any other of the candidates, though he still relies more on redistribution (a Right-oriented ameliorative) than on adjusting the structures so that the wealth allocations resulting from transactions doesn’t require so much redistribution in the first place.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/03/2015 - 01:23 pm.


          “Mr. Sanders is certainly a lot closer to that center than any other of the candidates”

          I am sure no one will find it surprising that I disagree. Especially since his view of good is Northern Europe. My readers and I took a shot at trying to put the continuum on a graphic.

          The measure I use is how much of the Total US GDP is collected and spent / redistributed by all aspects of our government. As you can see this particular measure started to the far right in 1900 and has been continuously moving Left ever since. That is why I find it humorous when Liberals say that it is the GOP trying to change things.


          • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 06/04/2015 - 11:54 am.

            My thought is

            That your pet concept – using a person’s view on the appropriate amount of public expenditure per GNP as the means to characterize his or her place on the political/economic spectrum – is deeply simplistic.

            First, there are a number of purposes for public spending: collective infrastructure, social insurance, redistribution, investing in other societies for the broad common good and to enhance our stability, providing for the common defense, etc. One’s stance can support more spending in one category, less in another. Further, of course, the question isn’t spending, it’s spending on what. The largest chunk of federal spending is basically to protect our ability to keep consuming fossil fuels, a form of spending that many on the left assuredly would favor reducing.

            But more fundamentally, and as I stated in my preceding comment, a large part of public spending is in direct response to the distributive outcomes of our framework for private transactions. The more our playing field for private transactions is tilted, the more it is characterized by substantial market failure, then the more public spending we will need to ameliorate the distributional inefficiency of that economic activity. If you don’t like redistributional spending, social insurance spending, spending to address externalized public costs of private actions, spending to ameliorate foreign antagonisms towards the U.S., etc, then, foremost, you should support structural changes to our economic and political systems so that private wealth and power does not concentrate with such gravitational force.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/04/2015 - 02:09 pm.

              Big Picture Little Pictures

              A book I read on creative thinking techniques taught me that it is best if one makes a conscious decision to zoom in , zoom out and keep repeating. My pet concept may be simplistic, however it is the 10,000 ft view of the situation.

              This source is controversial around here, but it is the best I have found. Spending $100 Billion per year in Iraq was actually a drop in the bucket. Especially since most of it came back to the US as salaries, equipment orders, R&D funding, etc. (ie big make work project) And there is no oil in Afghanistan, South Korea, etc. Personally I think a lot of that money to protect Israel, which I will never understand.

              • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 06/04/2015 - 07:16 pm.

                But it is anathema to creative thinking

                To select a 10,000-foot hypothesis that frames the issue so narrowly as to exclude what is likely the dominant independent variable.

                Those on the Right (as well as liberals, so well has the Overton Window been managed) think that the world of private economic transactions operates in some pre-societal pure market realm and that any subsequent collective redistribution is pure interference. However the structure in which private transaction occurs is as much a societal choice as the redistributional acts that come later. And – I suggest – the most important variable in determining the “right” amount of government spending is the framework of private transaction established by our collective choice. A framework that allows wealth to consolidate with ever greater acceleration, and to bring political power with it, will demand that our redistribution ever expand if we are to keep ahold of a decent society.

                The Right declaims against government spending as the ill of all ills, but where are the voices on the Right seeking to correct the framework of private transaction as the surest route to reducing collective spending?

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/05/2015 - 04:48 pm.

                  Apple Phones

                  Who or what system is forcing the American consumer to buy Apple I phones that are built in China? Who or what system is forcing American consumers to buy Hyundai cars?

                  My point is that American citizens want to have their cake and eat it to. They want low cost high quality products and services, and they want high incomes and many government services. These are not aligned concepts.

                  The current free market allows these “free will” low cost wealth transfers to occur to the benefit of most Americans. And now it seems that Liberals want to drive up the transaction costs.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/04/2015 - 02:13 pm.

              System Talk

              I think you will like the views of these folks. A bit too socialistic for my tastes.


              I keep wondering if these folks think money and people are mandated to stay in the USA, and that they can set the rules as they wish with no big negative consequences.

              • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 06/04/2015 - 07:26 pm.

                I skimmed their 37 principles.

                Yes, on the whole they make a lot of sense. I’m not sure why you call them socialistic. Almost all of them are oriented toward leveling the economic playing field by addressing market failure in the realm of private economic transactions. Any free market adherent ought to love them.

                I agree with your last point, though. It’s easy to establish a level playing field at the “beginning.” Once wealth – and hence political power – is concentrated, though, and with the free flow of capital globally, good luck re-leveling the field. So what does that say about the future of free society?

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/06/2015 - 10:44 pm.

                  Probably Impossible

                  I am guessing it would be impossible for me to explain why I see them as socialistic in a way you would choose to sanction. I do find some of the ones that try to reward long term investment interesting, though we already do this by taxing long terms gains at a lower rate.

                  The idea of taxing the wealthy significantly more to subsidize child care, open Medicare to all, create Government source of mortgages, expand public transportation, expand bankruptcy protections, expand public investment, strengthening unions, etc, etc, etc aren’t typical supported by us free market types. We typically like it when people work hard, learn, continuously improve, live below their means, save , invest, etc.

                  Whereas many of their 37 points have to do with how can government regulate more and arbitrarily transfer more wealth between citizens. I am all for wealth transfer when Bob gives Jan money for a good or service that Bob values, not when someone orders Bob to give money to Jan to make themselves feel better.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/03/2015 - 08:40 pm.

        Not at all–I’m delighted that a candidate who is saying

        things that desperately need to be said is finally getting some mainstream media attention.

        What has struck me in the past few presidential campaigns is that everyone is campaigning on hot button issues (abortion, guns, gay rights, “family values,” whatever those are) and platitudes (“business-friendly,” “policies that benefit working families,” “a strong defense”), and then, when they get into office, it’s the same old coddling and favoring of the big money gamblers and the military-industrial complex and the despoilers of the earth.

        I don’t agree with everything Bernie Sanders says. For one thing, as a former college professor, I strongly believe that college has become a holding tank for many middle class youth who have no academic interests and little talent for academic work.

        Otherwise, I think that Bernie is the only candidate so far who understands what has happened to America in the past 35 years and has promoted specific ideas for righting the wrongs.

  15. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/03/2015 - 07:21 pm.


    Does it make any difference relative to GDP? Theoretically all the GDP goes somewhere, One issue is are we (America/Americans) getting more or less value form the GDP? Another issue is capitalism is not ingrained in the constitution any more than socialism, they are allowed to certain degrees by our system of laws, seems to be where CH was/is going with those comments. Some things seem to work better from a social perspective some not so good. Per CH that depends on who is looking and when. The other point about GDP, is how much of the GDP redistribution has been shifted to the middle class while the upper crust has kept a larger % of the GDP. One statistic, one distribution does not make a complete story. Thus an opinion/thought from a Social Liberal, Fiscal conservative: Although doing very well relative to the bell-curve, my redistribution is significantly higher ~ 2.5X than the upper crust. The income here is majority salary 25-28%, medicare, SS, etc +++ State Tax, sales tax etc. upper crust LT Capital gains ~ 15% — good tax lawyers. Noteworthy point: Lower income folks spend basically everything they take in from a sales perspective they pay a sales tax on every earned $ “the crust: does not spend every $ they take in, “sales tax break”. Back to Bernie, significantly farther left than me, but much of his analysis seems sound, not so sure about the dose of the medicine.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/04/2015 - 08:08 am.

      Another scale

      I am always happy to play with different measures to graphically display where we have been on the Socialism / Captialism continuum. However first we need to agree what describes Socialism and Captialism?

      In my simple world, it is a question of societal vs personal control. Does the government / society decide where money is spent or does the individual citizens of the country?

      Social security and medicare may be necessary for different reasons. But remember that the government is forcing every citizen to pay ~15% of their income into the pool. The government is deciding where it will be invested and the government will decide what you get back and when. It was definitely a huge pull to the left when it occured.

      Ideas for my next project? The data needs to be easily available and go back to ~1900.

    • Submitted by Anthony Walsh on 06/04/2015 - 09:12 am.


      I question the reverence of the GDP. When you get cancer, it goes up, if you have good insurance.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/04/2015 - 08:42 am.

    Silly people.

    “Socialism bad. Capitalism good.” That’s the kind of in depth intellectual analysis we need to get back to in this country! What’s wrong with you people?

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/04/2015 - 09:14 am.


      “Socialism bad. Capitalism good.”

      Actually I think we are saying “Socialism Bad. Capitalism Bad.” The question is where is the sweet spot in the middle:

      1. Where people who really need the help get it, and the folks that are lazy, unmotivated, criminal, etc are pressured to improve, change, pitch in and contribute. (ie be they poor or rich)

      2. Where individuals pay for government programs and services, yet they get to keep a signicant amount of the “fruits of their labors and life choices” to spend, give away or save as they wish.

      3. Where government services and fund transfers occur, but they are kept very effective and efficient.

      No Black or White hats here. At least not from me.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/04/2015 - 06:38 pm.

        Correction 2

        Per earlier comment: Good/Bad Depends on who is looking, when they are looking, and what are the circumstances. That is the struggle, laws are typically rigid no way to adjust to time and change of circumstances. Personal vs. community? Its about more than $, rights freedoms, and what is the definition of “fair” , relative to what? It isn’t like we can put an algorithm together that uses 1.25 Gigahertz +/- 20 mega hertz as the standard of fairness and measure and operate accordingly. We try as a society but probably fail miserably, for all kinds of reasons. Similar to effective and efficient, what is the standard for effective and efficient, oddly or ironically mine might be higher. tighter more conservative than yours. Example: Charitable contributions 90% minimum must be spent on the objective, and yes we are looking for the funny stuff like Training on how t properly blow your nose. Each to their own kind of sort of.

        Reminds me of: “Man cannot change the direction of the wind, but he can adjust the sails”

  17. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 06/04/2015 - 09:29 pm.

    Social Security: 99.3%, Medicare: 98.6%

    Those are the percentages of those programs’ expenditures that are non-administrative.

    The two programs combined account for 39% of US Federal expenditures.

    Wish granted. Amply.


    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/06/2015 - 12:50 am.

      Good Examples

      They do seem to be pretty good examples, though they are a bit more expensive than my Vanguard mutual funds and there are no fund raising expenses like charities. I am guessing all of the costs incurred by companies to conform are not included in these costs. Finally I am not sure how to account for “opportunity cost”. These folks are investing the money for decades at T Bond rates. How much more could have been available if they had invested in a diverse portfolio.

      Overall, they are good programs. Except all the means testing that prevents the people who paid the most into the program from getting their full benefit. And the fact that either the payroll tax rate is too low or the payouts are too big. since the trust funds will all be at $0 within the next ~15 years. (and SS disability is pretty much at $0 now) Then more money will need to be found or payments will need to be cut by~25%.

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