How Bernie Sanders wins (even if he loses)

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his political season entertains like no other. We have Donald, Hillary, Ted, Ben, Marco, Bernie, and good ol’ Jeb. Donald’s version of truth telling is blowing everything up (including his own brand).

presidential candidates 2016

Hillary is a shameless panderer. Ted is deplorable, but at least he believes in his schtick. Marco is an establishment puppet. Ben is still gathering his thoughts, and Jeb spent the family jewels (roughly $130 million) on four delegates before dropping out. That’s borderline criminal.

It’s embarrassing to watch professional liars fall all over themselves for votes. But what might be more embarrassing is how much the average voter still believes in these so-called leaders and the political process. And that leads me to Bernie.

Let’s face it. Bernie Sanders is a longshot to become president—but even if he loses, he can still win. And by ‘win’ I’m not talking about some weak consolation prize such as the Vice Presidency or pulling Hillary more to the left than she’s already comfortable doing.

Bernie's election defining statement is an historic moment in our country's history. This is no exaggeration. Citizens all over the world should take notice.

If his message is taken to heart, people can reclaim the power they were so eager to give away. They'll exert more influence over their lives and communities—resulting in a win for Bernie (even if he ‘loses’).

I’ll explain.

Bernie's Magic

So what are the magic words?

Here's Bernie, from his interview on the Axe Files podcast with David Axelrod, Obama’s former campaign manager:

I don’t have any illusion that I’m going to walk in — if there is a Republican House and a Republican Senate — that I’m going to walk in there and say, ‘Hey guys, listen. I’d like you to work with me on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.’

It ain’t gonna happen, I have no illusion about that.

The only way that I believe that change takes place…is that tens of millions of people are going to have to stand up and be involved in the political process the day after the election.


Hold up. “After the election”?

Is anyone else hearing this?!

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice he says that he 'can't do it alone' at least once in every in-depth interview and every stump speech. I just sit and marvel each time I hear it.

Why is this so damn important?

Because Bernie is out to murder the current brand of leadership everyone is consumed with. The kind where one person comes and saves the world ‘if you’ll just vote for me.’

Do you really believe that ONE person can fashion an entire country in their vision?

Do you really believe that ONE person is capable of keeping their insane promises without lots and lots of help?

Do you still believe in the old brand of leadership that produces a new savior that you should get behind in every election cycle?

Has someone EVER transformed an entire country using their charisma, good looks, and their 'roll up the sleeves' work ethic? In the history of our planet?

No. You know why? Because it's impossible. And every election cycle, people fall for these false promises. It happens every time.

In Bernie's interview with Killer Mike, Mike picked up on this point and emphatically stated, “You seem to be the only candidate that wants a smarter constituency.”

In fact, he had to say it twice. Why? Because it's not normal political rhetoric.

You just don't hear politicians say things like this because they want you to believe THEY have the power to change things, not you.

They have the capability to make things happen, not you.

Sure. You can vote. That's what you can do. Just shut up, vote, and watch 'em go.

Look. You can have an awesome country if you vote for me. You can have it all. Health care, low taxes, whatever you want. Just vote for me.

I'll take care of you.

I'll take care of your family.

I'll take care of the economy.


Bernie's delivery

[x_pullquote cite="Killer Mike, during his interview with Bernie Sanders" type="right"]You seem to be the only candidate that wants a smarter constituency.[/x_pullquote]Throughout the interview, Mike continues to toss the Senator fat softballs to knock out of the park, once and for all.

Instead of blasting the door down with a thundering stomp, Bernie politely knocked, offering milk and cookies.

Look. It’s not that his message isn’t strong (it is), and it’s not like this interview wasn’t powerful (it was), I just don’t believe Bernie’s delivery came across as the game-breaker it really is.

Imagine Bernie shutting down every future interview, every speech, every fundraiser and saying, “Wait a minute. Do you understand what I’m saying? Do you really get it? We’re not leaving here until YOU get this…”

Still, Bernie’s message struck me because I’ve been waiting for it. I just wish someone would call out pandering politicians as the false leaders they really are. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if some ambitious politician steals his line to nab votes from unsuspecting voters.

Still, Bernie presents his strategy for massive change courageously, but will people get it? Then reality hits me:

Does anyone care what happens after elections? Do I even care? Not really.

In fact, most people don’t. People go back to their routines. Some are happy. Some are sad. Some are upset. Some give up. Some move to another country. And some decide to do something about it.

Imagine if more people got involved in the political process after elections.

Imagine if people got fired up the day after an election, even if their candidate of choice didn’t win.

Imagine if people mobilized and organized ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Imagine if civics was sexy, and everyone was ‘doing it’, not just the radicals and power mongers.

It doesn’t matter if the media gets the magnificence of Bernie’s ‘day after’ strategy. It matters that YOU do. Why would the media underscore his call to action if, in the end, it ultimately diminishes their massive influence?

What matters is that YOU get this idea, that the phony illusion of leadership, as an all-knowing, omniscient savior is over. The old brand of leadership you grew up with is coming to an end. It has to.

We have to reclaim our power through action, assertiveness, and follow-through.

Who's responsible? Who's accountable for all this?

Look in the mirror.

Nothing has changed since the dawn of humanity.

It's on us. It's always been this way, but when will civic life stop being a spectator sport? Will we step up? When?

Because our lives depend on it.

Our children’s lives depend on it.

The future of the world depends on it.

If we get more involved, we win. Bernie wins, too. Even if he loses.


Conscious Taxes

It's the year 2036.

It's tax time again, and EVERYONE'S excited about it. You've been looking forward to this for almost 8 months because this is the first year in the history of the world that YOU get to decide where your tax dollars go.

Your decisions will have a direct impact on the immediate world around you, and after many decades of failed politics, poor economic policies, the people have finally wrested control over their communities and ecosystems. Politicians finally serve the people.

The Conscious Tax App

You register and sign into the Conscious Tax App for the first time, and you see all the money you were taxed for the previous year on the welcome screen:


With this amount, you can invest in any program, policy, or plan you would like, as long as it's given back to the community.  The #1 law regarding taxes is that you CANNOT keep it for yourself, although you can direct it to institutions and programs that serve your interests.

You can give some to the local military or police, infrastructure to keep roads safe, education and schools, healthcare, social security, or even that local politician that works so hard to make sure plans are implemented wisely.

You click a button that leads you to all local proposals, such as a new commuter train system, housing renovations, getting rid of pesky potholes, upgrading local schools and improving agriculture standards.

Every proposal submitted includes:


[icon_list style="color: green"][icon_list_item type="check"]Purpose (what problem does this solve?)[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type="check"]Plan costs[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type="check"]Benefits, which includes benefits to local ecosystem and surrounding cities[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type="check"]Timeframe[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type="check"]Negative outcomes (what negative consequences could result from this?)[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type="check"]The current funding progress (plans will be initiated once funding is complete - people vote with their dollars)[/icon_list_item]

[icon_list_item type="check"]There's also a list of consequences (some speculative, some based on previous maintenance costs) associated with a plan if it's NOT funded fully. (Such a list might include no electricity for 2 months, projected 12% increase in criminal activity, 8% rise in higher drop out rates in school, etc.)[/icon_list_item]


So, what will you do with your tax money?


It's a bigger responsibility, making decisions that not only impact your household, but your entire community. And what if every decision involving every tax dollar was transparent? Others can see where your tax dollars go, and you can see where theirs go. Everybody's values would be on display.

Would you support schools and education, building towards a long term vision of your community? Or do you use your money to fund immediate needs, like road and bridge infrastructure? Should you fund that arts program for youth? Or do you allocate funds to that innovative pure water project that might NOT work?

How do you respond if you're championing a cause that isn't getting the necessary attention (or funding) you think it deserves? Wouldn't you get MORE involved? Wouldn't you attempt to make something happen?

Wouldn't 'conscious taxes' make everybody a de facto politician, making people responsible for swaying and influencing others to vote for the 'best' worldview imaginable?

How would YOU create the best ecosystem humanly possible? A place where all community members have the potential to thrive, without institutional barriers.

I see a world where public debate and discourse would increase. Civic engagement would shoot through the roof. Wall flowers would hit the dance floor.


The truth is, many people are disengaged from politics and policy making.

The truth is, nobody can pinpoint or know for sure where their tax dollars go - it's all based on what government tells us.

The truth is that a very small percentage of the population is involved in any form of civic engagement, let alone public debate - which is mostly left for the politicians and scholars.

Here, take a look at where your tax dollars are likely to end up:



This doesn't include Wall St. bailouts, senator's salary's and pension plans, nor all the wasteful spending that goes into a bureaucratic behemoth such as Washington D.C.

The question is, where do YOU want your money to go? To the military, and ongoing wars? Despite having the largest military in the WORLD, the United States spends an amount equal to the next closest 8 countries COMBINED.


Is this really the best use of our money? Maybe you think so, but I don't. I'd be fine if you decided to throw your all your tax dollars at the military. I'd like to choose where my money goes, and focus on taking care of many of the social problems we continue to experience.

Are your tax dollars really in better hands with the government? Wouldn't it be nice to see the connection of YOUR actual dollars to the BENEFITS you're meant to receive?

Instead of having a disengaged populace, don't you think the level of awareness regarding local problems/solutions would raise in communities with tax spending in the hands of people? Perhaps political corruption would cease as a result.

I don't have any answers, just a bunch of questions.

With a little imagination, innovation, and "conscious taxes", I'm sure we can do much, much better even if it's in 2036. I hope much sooner.

Perhaps one day we can log-in to the Conscious Tax App, and start directing the future of our communities and country.

I can dream.


Cheaters, greed, and stacking the deck

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]ill Belichick is coach of the New England Patriots. He is considered one of the best coaches in the HISTORY of the league and his teams over the years have won 3 Superbowls, and they're on the verge of earning another. Belichick is also known for bending the rules in his team's favor, and has been caught cheating on one occasion. He's currently under investigation for deflating balls in the AFC Championship game this past Sunday, although it's a moot point. The Patriots beat the Colts 45-7.

If you go beyond surface reports, and look a little deeper, it becomes easy to speculate that others may be involved in more subtle ways, including Patriots' owner Robert Kraft and NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. During Spygate, Goodell reviewed and notoriously destroyed the tapes Belichick illegally made of other teams prior to games, prompting criticism from Senator Arlen Specter. Why would you do that, Commish?

In the end, who knows who's involved. Whether cheating is only happening on the coaching level or in NFL front offices, visiting teams that enter the Patriots' home stadium will be using extra precautions. Is that red light a camera? Are there microphones in this room? It's enough to drive a coach crazy, but many coaches are paranoid anyway.

Ok, enough about the Patriots, what's the point??

The point is, why cheat when you have more than one Lombardi trophy in the trophy case? Why cheat when you're three championships ahead of most teams? Why cheat when you're wildly successful, year in and year out?

The answer is simple. Greed, a lust for more and more power. And power has a funny way of going to somebody's head. Take a look...

Where's the empathy?

Unfortunately, greed plays out with much greater consequences in everyday life. In politics, government bureaucrats have the opportunity to make policy decisions that impact millions of people's lives. Do you really think that the senator of Kansas can have empathy for somebody he's never even met? How about somebody whom he can't even culturally relate to?

It's hard for anybody to relate to strangers and unknown cultures, but what about people who have been misunderstood and misrepresented? Not exactly a recipe for empathy, either.

Is it any wonder that politics and policy is driven by the wealthy among us? How can the poor have a voice if they cannot be heard? If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?

Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow unlimited amounts of corporate spending in political campaigns, we have witnessed the wealthiest among us, the teams with the most trophies in their closet, cheat their way out of costly company decisions. With government and big corporations feeding into each other, it's no wonder that the wealth inequality gap increases day by day.

Here's an excerpt from an article from the New York Review of Books, titled:

The Supreme Court’s Billion-Dollar Mistake

According to the Brennan Center report super PACs have spent more than one billion dollars on federal election campaigns. And because these organizations are free of any limits, they have proved to be magnets for those who have the resources to spend lavishly to further their interests. About 60 percent of that billion dollars has come from just 195 people. Those 195 individuals have only one vote each, but does anyone believe that their combined expenditure of over $600 million does not give them disproportionate influence on the politicians they have supported? The average contributions of those who give more than $200 to such super PACs are in the five- and six-figure range. The average donation over $200 to the ironically named Ending Spending, a conservative PAC, was $502,188. This is a game played by, and for, the wealthy.

How can you come to any other conclusion other than, elections are bought? And if you think politicians decisions only affect the rich and the poor, don't forget that skin color plays a major factor, too. How many wealthy Native American billionaires do you know of? Conversely, how is the average Native family living, day to day?

Politics infiltrates prisons and jails taking campaign dollars from privatized prison companies. A 2012 Associated Press review found that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), The GEO Group, and a third privately-held company Management and Training Corp. spent at least $45 million in combined lobbying and campaign contributions at the federal and state levels in the previous decade.

People of color have been disproportionately imprisoned for much longer terms than their white counterparts for similar crimes. Policies here in California have led to an over-crowding in prisons, which leads to more privatized companies negotiating contracts with the state. How out-of-control is our prison system? According to a case study (found here) titled:


The Problem and Its Impact on People of Color

The United States puts more people in prisons and jails than any other country in the world. The number of people incarcerated here has increased by 500 percent over the past three decades to 2.2 million.157 This striking change has not been a reaction to increasing crime. In fact, the current rate of serious crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault is at its lowest level since 1963.158 Instead, the rise in incarceration is due to policy changes in the criminal justice system, including dramatic increases in the length of sentences for similar crimes caused by mandatory sentencing and three-strikes policies as well as the “war on drugs.”159 The incarceration rate of people sentenced to more than a year of prison has more than tripled over the past 30 years—from 139 to 502 people per 100,000 in the general population.160

Private prisons are HUGE business, and as long as policy drives "human resources" through the door, a corporation can pay labor .10 cents an hour and get away with it. Why outsource to China when you can get cheaper labor right in your hometown?

So what, Paul??

Not enough people know the game is rigged, but thanks to the internet, some researchers who give a f***, and a few courageous souls, we can watch the tyrants a little more closely. But it's about more than watching and understanding HOW they cheat, it's about what YOU and I are ultimately going to do about it.

Washington is a lost cause as long as local politics is a lost cause. We can only change Washington D.C. on a local level. The Washington machine is made to serve the wealthy elite, break families apart, miseducate children, and build more wealth for the obscenely wealthy. Most politicians are bought, the question is, by whom? This isn't about Democrats or Republicans. Corruption is corruption.

The key is awareness. The key is understanding how a decision or policy is affecting your bank account, your family's health, your economic mobility, and your happiness.

Happiness. How about that?

Listen. I'm not saying that the "powers that be" are controlling your life, how you see the world, or whether you believe in yourself enough or not. But to deny their everyday influence through schooling, media, and other "cultural" managers is utter ignorance.

We have to regain control over the one thing that gives us a fighting chance. An opportunity to really change things, and hopefully, one day, experience true transformation.

Our body. Our mind. Our spirit. The power lies within us all. Don't let that go. Ever.

True power is WITH, not OVER people.