Bernie Sanders might not be the next president of the United States. Bernie knows that he might not be the next president but he knows that many more presidents will be elected in the time that is ahead of us. That’s why Sanders is doing something that no candidate before him has done: he is campaigning for something more than just himself.
The politics of America are a tight system of dogmas and privilege. The corporate involvement, the bureaucracy and the world of campaign managers, spin doctors and speech writers keep it tightly knit into a carrousel of change. The names differ, the system remains. Try to defy the system and you lose. If you want to reach the top you have to follow the path others chiselled out before you.
Bernie Sanders realises his supporters will outlive him. He knows that words like socialism, grass-roots movements and worker unions are like hot water to the tender feet of America and that they need to be eased in. Bernie is creating something for the next generations; he campaigns for change. For that to do, he says things other candidates do not dare to say. Because it could cost them votes, because they fear the rusty conservatism and deep seated anti-socialism of the heartland. Sanders sacrifices part of his chances to win presidency in order to win for something bigger than himself; a change of mentality that could lead to a socialist president being elected in say, ten or twenty years from now. Being 76 years old, Bernie himself likely won’t see the day that happens but he can be proud knowing he will be a conduit in this long term tendency.
“If your only good tool is a hammer, you have to make every problem look like a nail.”
This is what General Wesley Clark said in an interview with DemocracyNow! about the military campaigns of the US in the wake of 9/11. It’s an interesting variation of the Law of Instrument.
The concept known as the law of the instrument, Maslow’s hammer, Gavel or a golden hammer is an over-reliance on a familiar tool; as Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
The first recorded statement of the concept was Abraham Kaplan’s, in 1964: “I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.”
Maslow’s hammer, popularly phrased as “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” and variants thereof, is from Abraham Maslow’s The Psychology of Science, published in 1966.
What Clark is saying is that the US in this metaphor is consciously aware of having only a hammer, and doesn’t go round thinking everything’s a nail. No, they are aware not everything is nail, but they focus and making everyone else think it is.
To break with this tradition of institutionalised gas-lighting, sacrifices need to be made. The one to throw the hammer down (oh the metaphors) is the one pulling the rug from under the establishment’s feet and reveal to the entire world that, in fact, not every problem is a nail. Not everything needs pounding and you have been fooled for years thinking the hammer was our only way forwards. Bernie Sanders is telling us about corporate greed, about the influence of the capitalist elite on the presidential elections in America. The military industrial complex, the addiction to oil and fossil fuels, the looming power of the banks.
What America needs is knowledge, clairvoyance of the situation it manoeuvred itself in. Once the American people know, they can act.