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Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport

“Football is a spectator sport. Democracy is not a spectator sport.”

The first time I heard Bernie Sanders say those words something clicked in my brain. I thought: We’re not supposed to sit passively and let politicians do whatever they want or nothing at all while they’re in office. We the people are supposed to work alongside our leaders and together make things better for all. No more of this helpless victim routine!

The helpless–or is it really hopeless?–victim routine has become commonplace in America, especially since the 1980s. It’s a mixture of apathy and resignation, an overwhelming feeling which says, “Nothing I do will make any difference so why bother?” Worse of all, it appears to be contagious. Is it caught from simply dealing with the daily struggle of living in these tough times? Gone are the days of optimism and determination to create a better society we witnessed during the Civil Rights struggles. But, just when all hope appeared lost, Bernie Sanders came along.

This generation needs a strong moral leader like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and luckily for us, a man who marched with King and protested the travesty of segregation in Chicago in the 1960s has entered the political maelstrom of the 2016 presidential campaign. That the Millennial generation recognizes their need for a better society for all Americans, and are willing to work to make it happen, is perhaps the most inspiring outcome of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. Young adults and old-timers alike, white and black, rich and poor, gay and straight, able-bodied and wheelchair bound realize how much better the world became after Dr. King and others like him took a stand and took on the corrupt political system.

What many Americans don’t remember is Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis while trying to help the sanitation workers receive better pay and treatment on the job. Fifty years later, Bernie Sanders is picking up King’s torch and running with it, proposing programs to help American workers make a living wage, receive health care, and provide a better future for their children with access to free public colleges.

None of Bernie’s ideas are new–Dr. King and others spoke about them in the 1960s–but they’ve been thwarted by institutionalized racism and apathy in the years since King’s death. We the people have been duped into thinking these ideas were impractical or impossible and told not to look too closely on how our actual tax dollars were being spent and who was actually getting all the tax breaks.

(Hint: The biggest welfare recipients in our country are the members of the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame.)

Billionaires have bent the system to line their pockets with our money–the working people’s money. Isn’t it time our tax dollars were spent to help us and our children live prosperous and healthy lives instead of being stuffed into a tax haven in the Cayman Islands or hidden away via a Panamanian shell company?

True democracy takes lots of hands to make light the load. It takes a leader who is willing to point out where our society has strayed into selfishness and greed rather than into compassion and neighborliness. I no longer desire to be a spectator–I want in the game! With Bernie Sanders as our coach and guide, we’re in for a winning season.

Bio: Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of The Bernie Blog.


  • So, you feel that persons who are arrested for “driving while black” aren’t experiencing an abridgement of their Civil Rights? Is locking up innocent people of color a way to address the dwindling Middle Class? You need to look at the broader picture–the Middle Class and the poor are one and the same and have been for the past 30 odd years now. Obviously CEOs making obscene profits didn’t stop them from wanting to make even more profits by sending American jobs overseas. Giving rich people more tax breaks and money just makes them hoard it overseas in off-shore tax havens. What would your solution entail–killing and/or imprisoning the “lower class” as you call it? (That would entail many minorities but also a lot of poor whites.) Maybe we just “build a wall” around these poor souls? What would Jesus do, you think? Would he sell out our fellow human beings for the sake of CEOs making more un-taxable billions? Why don’t we make the CEOs a member of the same human race as the rest of us–white, black, brown, red, yellow, etc.? I think Jesus would say it’s high time these greedy CEOs share with everyone else.

  • It’s not the Civil Right’s Movement that is continuing. What we have today is the slow demise of the middle class, and those being pushed down are taking to the streets to protest. The ones climbing up you’re not hearing from. The middle class, due in large part to the policies of Democratic leaders (Prez, house, & senate) through their policies, are creating environments where these workers are feeling the most pain. Why are companies leaving the US for overseas? High corp tax rates. Profit is not a dirty word. So workers lose their jobs. The policies of Mr. Sanders are not sustainable. Anyone look at the debt lately? It’s grown more under Mr. Obama than under any previous President. When Obama took office in 2009 the debt was $10T. When he leaves it will be $20T. Washington TImes clearly has this documented. Fiscal policies are what is ruining this country. And no one seems to care. Bernie will do nothing to address this and will only make it worse. Add in trade policies – the American middle class is screwed again. Has nothing to do with Civil Rights. The lower class is now competing with a section of the former middle class, and there simply not enough jobs that pay what’s needed.

    • BillT, what say I point you to a self contradiction in your logic? On one hand, you keep blaming job loss from automation and offshoring on excessive salaries, on the other hand you decry that there are “not enough jobs that pay what’s needed”. The “not sustainable” policies of Bernie Sanders are exactly about fixing this (and they were sustainable in America’s golden age and still are sustainable in other industrialized nations). It all boils down to this: A nation produces a cake big enough for all. When the cutting up and sharing of the cake is left to a few bullies, many are left holding a bag. When the nation’s people elect an accountable government for the job, the sharing can be done fairly so everybody gets enough. First we must get corruption out of our politics, though. And that is the fight we are starting this year.

  • I agree with you, Dirk. The Civil Rights movement has been “sleeping” for a time, but I don’t think it was outright killed off by its enemies as they’d hope. Bernie Sanders has re-awakened the flame burning in our hearts to create a more just society for all Americans, and not just those in the 1%. We need to follow his lead and make it our movement–for this generation and for all future generations.

  • “What many Americans don’t remember is Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis while trying to help the sanitation workers receive better pay and treatment on the job.” — And, yet, the Civil Rights movement went on to accomplish a lot. As, I hope, will the movement which has been falling in with Bernie Sanders’ campaign. He isn’t crusading alone. Both movements, the one in the sixties and the one now, never were nor are about a single leader. They were and are about a fair and great America, which is to say: all of us. May this movement pick up where previous ones left off and be at least as successful.

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About the author

Cindy A Matthews

Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of The Bernie Blog.