Earlier this week, I criticized political language – well, to be fair, language in general – for its duplicitous telos. And yet I remain hopeful about future political practice, thanks to Bernie Sanders. Perhaps my faith is misplaced, or the comforting lie I’m building for myself in the endless process of self-deception, a necessary tool for survival. But the man, as I’m choosing to interpret him, seems to speak as close to truth as he can. He seems to have ideals that make him appropriately skeptical of America’s present reality and incredibly keen about ways to alter its future possibility.
At the heart of his campaign is an effort to confront and change our economic reality. This piece grounded his ambition in the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose spirit we pretend to embody but have effectively abandoned. We allude to him only for the purpose of self-congratulation about the modest progress we’ve made since his assassination; he is, sadly, a symbol unwittingly (I hope) used by white America to fool itself into thinking that racism is a past relic, not a present monster.
Sanders reminds us that everything King fought against remains a current cause we need to address. Although it’s unlikely that Sanders himself will make it to the highest office in our land, perhaps his vision, inspired by noble predecessors, will give us the clarity we need to see through all the mythological nonsense we use to elevate ourselves. In this clarity, perhaps we may access reality and start to do something about it.