Book Review

Review: Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide by Okla Elliott

bernie-elliotAccording to Kindle, the estimated time of reading this book is 1 hour and 11 minutes. It maybe short and concise, but it is packed full of facts.

Okla Elliott situates Bernie Sanders’ candidacy in the socio-political framework that enabled the Wisconsin protests of 2011, and the Occupy movement which followed. The core of Sanders’ popularity and appeal among a broad voter base is rooted in the economic and political outcomes of the neoliberal paradigm, which “weakened unions, corporatized universities, and [maintained a] perpetual war in the Middle East.”

This book demonstrates, with facts and figures, Sanders’ views and stances on issues such as criminal justice reform, economic, educational, environmental, and foreign policies, infrastructural reforms, and identity politics (such as the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, and racial minorities). Moreover, it elucidates the meaning of “democratic socialist,” both semantically and historically, and offers an interlude about the importance of thinking “science-fictionally.”

This is not a book about Clinton’s failures as a democratic candidate, however, Elliot does emphatically argue on more than one occasion, with facts, as well as conjectures, why he thinks Sanders is the better option. Clinton is a human who made mistakes and changed her mind. Sanders, Elliot argues, is the better option for our historical moment.  “If Sanders loses,” Elliot writes, “there will be a clear message sent to other politicians that they cannot run without the heavy help of corporate sponsorship. [ . . . ] It will also send a message to millions of Americans that our democracy is all but lost to the oligarchic powers-that-be.”

And the numbers are frightening indeed, among a plethora of statistics, Elliot writes, “Sixty-two people own more wealth than 350 million people do.” This is not the outcome of hard work and honest labor. The current system is broken. It rewards greed and corruption (not a single banker was punished for the global economic collapse that stemmed from the United States’ banking industry) at the expense of the “people;” the current system is antithetical to the meaning of the term “democracy,” socialist or otherwise.

“But if he wins,” Elliot exclaims, “we could usher in one of the greatest eras of robust democracy and progress our country, and perhaps the world, has ever seen.” And thus this book is not simply a love letter to Sanders — though it does read as one — but an urgent and passionate call by a professor to turn the enthusiasm channeled by Sanders into a “mindful and spirited enthusiasm,” instead of a “blind one.”

Don’t just read the book. Share the book. Teach the book.

Be an agent of the ideological revolution and, as Elliot aptly concludes his billet-doux, “Feel the Bern.”




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