Peter Cavanaugh

Bark for Bernie

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was a pioneer in behavioral psychology who won a Nobel Prize in 1904 for his work on conditioned responses.

Pavlov is classically referenced as discovering that dogs salivating at the sight of food could also be conditioned to do the same at the sound of a bell, providing a pattern was established in which the bell was rung routinely just before feeding time (the doggies would then react to the bell as though it was food itself).

More than half of American voters seem to be similarly predisposed to dismiss Bernie Sanders as a viable candidate for president since he is a self-declared “socialist” - this word conditioned through the years by dubious definition and careless commentary as being the same thing as a “communist.”

A recent Gallup survey measuring electorate bias indicates that 93% of us would vote for a Catholic, 92% for an African-American, 92% for a woman, 91% for an Hispanic, 91% for a Jewish candidate, 81% for a Mormon, 74% for a gay or lesbian, 73% for an Evangelical Christian who believes the world is 6,000 years old and cavemen rode dinosaurs, and 58% would even back an atheist. But only a minority 47% would support putting a socialist in The White House.

Such mindless conditioning is desperately in need of righteous revision.

There’s a major disconnect here as far as Bernie Sanders’ campaign is concerned. It’s truly astounding. Issues the senator endorses score majority support across the board -many by impressive pluralities.

A resounding 84% of voters, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, agree that money has far too much influence on political campaigns, and 77% think there should be limits on amounts individuals, corporations or political action committees can spend on their favorite issues or candidates. That’s what Bernie says.

Eighty percent of registered Democrats are in favor of a “Single Payer Option” in health insurance, also known in Bernie-talk as “Medicare for All.” Sadly, such a concept was the first casualty in early 2009 health care debates when President Obama completely left it off the table in a doomed effort to obtain early Republican cooperation.

Seventy three percent of Americans want Citizens United (2010) overturned, not believing that “corporations are persons” and “money is speech” - underscoring the fact that concern about the dominance of elections by corporations and the wealthy is overwhelmingly bipartisan. That’s a biggie with Bernie.

Sixty seven percent of our people believe there is obvious unfairness in the current national distribution of wages and wealth across the board.

Sixty four percent of us state that many major corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes.

Sixty three percent would favor Bernie’s “College for All Act” which would provide free education at public colleges funded by a small tax on Wall Street transactions, including 47% of Republicans who are comfortable with the idea.

Fifty seven percent of our citizens are not opposed to Same Sex Marriages.

My colleague, Alan Cheah, was wonderfully succinct in his Sierra Star column of 10/25/15 discussing “socialism” when he asked in puzzled challenge - “What are we afraid of?”

Questioning Senator Sanders about taxes during last Saturday night’s Democratic Presidential Debate, a reporter seemed stunned to learn that the rate on upper incomes was a full 90% under President Dwight Eisenhower, true American hero and prime architect of the Normandy Invasion as leader of all Allied Forces during World War II. Sanders promised his final number would be significantly less than that - then joked - “I’m not that much of a socialist compared with Eisenhower.” Even Hillary had to laugh.

An honest review of what Bernie Sanders represents brings quite a revelation. Senator Sanders is the new voice of mainstream America, as our young lead the way.

In a late October NBC News/Monkey Survey poll of probable Democratic voters between the ages of 19 and 29, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton by an outrageous 2 to 1 ratio – 54% to 26%.

Millennials are paying attention and are on the march.

I’m betting they won’t get fooled again.

  Comments