Fancy yourself a Progressive? It can be difficult to find helpful literature to learn more about the ideas and policies of Bernie Sanders. This is an odd list in that it isn’t entirely Political or Economic non-fiction, there are biographies and some fiction. While understanding the reasoning and logic behind the policies is certainly the first step, learning from Bernie’s grit, attitude and character is the only way we can achieve his vision in the future. Here are TAR’s five books that every Bernie supporter must read!
TL;DR- Hear it from the man himself. Extremely dry but information-dense, you’ll be a Jedi next time politics is mentioned with friends.
Straight from the horse’s mouth. Controversial figures like Bernie tend to be hard to find accurate information on. You’ve never heard a full Bernie speech on a tv network. Non-fanatics beware, this is dictionary dry if you don’t love data and policy. However, if you are sick of being defenseless when people trash Bernie’s ideas you have to pick this up. This book is like a Jedi getting a lightsaber, Bernie breaks down every single policy. Most importantly he explains how bad the current system is leaving no other option but “radical” change.
TL;DR While most people have heard of the dystopian Brave New World, it tends to overshadow Huxley’s masterpiece about a “perfect” society. This book is a crucial exercise in opening your mind to the way the world could be.
Ok go ahead and get the conspiracy theory comments out of the way here. If you haven’t read Huxley, he is one of the greatest writers of all time from a prose, entertainment perspective. This is wild considering these are two of the greatest philosophical works ever created. Island is first because it will exercise your ability to think big and reimagine society. It is the opposite of the dystopian Brave New World, centering around a “perfect” society.
The plot centers around an Island named Pala, which is nearly impossible to reach due to ocean currents but sits upon the largest untapped oil reserve in the world. Strangely enough, Pala is also home to the happiest longest living humans on earth. The main character, a cynical journalist named Will Farnaby is hired to attempt to get to Pala and do the bidding of an Oilman.
Upon his arrival he is stunned to meet people who are shockingly authentic and honest, essentially calling out his BS and negativity. Farnaby’s mission is to win over the new king’s mother, who is not a native of Pala. Farnaby and the outsider mother hit it off as fellow cynics. All the while a nearby dictatorship is threatening to invade Pala to take its oil. Will Farnaby navigates his own selfish ambitions of a future paycheck with the acceptance and love from the people of Pala, knowing that he was sent by an Oilman.
Brave New World is much more well known with reviews abounding. However, Huxley’s main critique of capitalism is worth noting. If you live under a rock the book is about a dystopian future(that is very similar to the present) where instead of the Government ruling with force, they give people as many drugs as they want and give them simple jobs. An opening scene really sums up one of the best messages. They breed humans in a lab and raise them to adhere to society. In one room babies and let out to crawl and play with a room full of books and plants. They are having a great time exploring when all of a sudden blaring sirens and flashing lights erupt, leaving the babies horrified. A visitor asks the main scientist, “I know we don’t want people to read because if they like reading they will stay home and not consume anything, but don’t we want people to like plants so that they will consume transportation resources to get there?” The main scientist replies “Yes, at first we thought that as well, but once people grew to love nature they would stay out there and consume less and less. Now we make them hate plants but love country activities like dirt bikes and golf consuming more than ever.”
Essentially, the things we love are what perpetuates an “unfair” capitalist system. There is a one-percenter getting a large cut of everything you buy.
3.)A Traitor to His Class by HW Brands.
TL;DR – Are you mired in thoughts that even if Bernie won he couldn’t get anything done? Grab any FDR resource you can. Not only will it give you some hope, but it is also important to see the tactics used against the greatest President of all time.
It was really tough to not make this number 1. Honestly, the only thing stopping it is list continuity and the fact that it is extremely long. While many might not read this one, take this into account and watch anything you can on FDR. The Roosevelt series, an awesome Doc by Ken Burns, was on Netflix recently which is an excellent intro to what the man did, and why he was so informative to Bernie’s life.
You likely gathered this by the title that FDR did not grow up poor like Bernie. Yep FDR was a 1%er. So what turned this high achieving Richy rich into the most progressive pro-worker president in American history? Well, while he always leaned that direction it is safe to say the experience of losing the use of his legs late in life created the FDR that built so much of America we know today. See FDR grew up not only wealthy but also handsome and very active. He loved playing sports and early on was being groomed for a Presidential run. Once he was viewed as handicapped the party was not so keen on him anymore, plus he lacked the confidence himself being overcome with self-doubt. Until he ran for Governor of New York during the Great Depression, becoming the most popular Governor in the country.
What is perhaps makes FDR so relevant to Bernie is that the media hated FDR more than any politician in history. Yet despite the hatred of all of the wealthy elites, he enjoyed record-breaking popularity with voters. If we wish to succeed we must study FDR’s playbook, the wealthy have been obsessing over his impact and aggressively dismantling it for decades.
TL;DR – Reich lays out exactly how modern-day mega-monopolies like Amazon and Google spend all of their resource rigging the system away from true market competition. From contract law to the tax code, the system is aligned entirely against workers and consumers. Super powerful info in this book that is a little less dry than Bernie.
We all know Robert Reich, he is all over Facebook with cute little videos. And I will admit I have seen him occasionally fall in line with the regular corporate Dems on culture issues. However what makes Saving Capitalism so powerful is not only his extensive background in economics, he also served in the Clinton administration. That might seem like a bad thing until you actually see him out there constantly explaining why Bernie is not only morally right but also economically proposing the best agenda. Perhaps Reich’s familiarity with the Corporate Dems is what enables him to explain precisely why they are so wrong on economic policy. For the record, it has long been said Reich was often ignored by Clinton whose staff and advisors were taking often times the opposite position.
Saving Capitalism is a deceptive title, especially for this list, but it is actually making a brilliant point. Reich makes the argument that large corporations and the wealthy have tilted the system so far in their favor by changing laws and regulations they are on the verge of breaking our market economy. His point is that, in a certain sense, this is not even a capitalist system in the first place. He points to companies like Comcast lobbying to change contract law. Meaning that when you sign a contract for their service they can now include in the fine print that you forfeit the right to take any legal action against the company and will accept the results of arbitration they provide. Meaning they can not live up to any part of the contract, provide the worst service imaginable to all of their customers just to boost the bottom line, and the customers have to accept it. Why do we accept it, because the alternative is AT&T, which lobbies with Comcast for the same laws. All the while Comcast and AT&T refuse to compete against EPB of Chattanooga. EPB has the highest customer satisfaction in the country and was the first provider in America to provide GB Fiber internet. So why don’t you have EPB? Comcast has been using them since their inception and has successfully gotten the government to block EPB from expansion. Why? All because they are funded by the taxpayers of Chattanooga. This beckons the big question from Reich, who is really stopping progress here?
TL;DR- Courting college-educated elites has been the downfall of democrats. Frank explains how the current trend is leading to the Democrats being the party of rich elites as opposed to the party of FDR that fought for workers. Frank makes the case that Populism or anti-elitism has always been the most powerful tool in American politics. If the Democrats don’t make drastic changes they risk being on the wrong end of the most powerful political weapon in America.
What really puts this book at the top of the list is its relevance. Because this is a list of the proper “tools” of a Bernie supporter this book takes spot numero uno. If you read this title and went “eww populist are racist!” you need to order this book immediately. That very reaction is what led to Frank writing the book. Hailing from Kansas Frank is a historian who has written about the history of the original populist party that started in Kansas. Knowing the real story he was shocked to see Democrats using the word populist as a term for the boogie man and anyone who is racist, oh yeah, and somehow they used it slander, Bernie Sanders. However as Frank demonstrates, the elites will always demonize regular people and as they have done since the beginning, except now the roles are reversed, the Dems are the elites and the Republicans are now wielding the most powerful tool in American politics, anti-elitism.
The book starts with the original people’s party of Kansas who attempted to form a party of western farmers, black and white southern farmers, and industrial workers of the city. While their success was limited, most of their ideas became a reality in America through none other than FDR. The Peoples part eventually became the populist party and went on to have one of their candidates run for president on the Democratic ticket, William Jennings Bryant. WJB was the first politician ever to self fund a campaign. He was also the first politician to actually travel around the country to stump, solidifying him as one with the people. WJB ended up being outspent by the largest margin in American history.
The book continues to show how the Democrats dominated politically after the great depression by becoming the party of the people that were against the media and the wealthy elites. It represented workers and unions, sticking it to the boss. This domination continues until Richard Nixon with the help of Pat Buchanan stole the Democrat’s thunder as they were starting to sell out and work for elites. See Nixon, while working for millionaires, started using populist rhetoric, speaking to the forgotten, underrepresented population. Thus began the shift of working people to the republican party.
Pat Buchanan went on perfecting his message of anti-elitism, seeing its effectiveness with real voters. Perhaps you know where this story ends…. Buchanan seeks a third party run in 2000, only to be run out of the race when Donald Trump claims he is also running third party. Next thing we know, Trump takes Buchanan’s whole entire script straight to the white house. Guess who guessed that Trump would flip the midwest? Pat Buchanan!
This is added as a bonus, however, we truly believe the very thing that makes Bernie so successful, his grit and determination, are exactly what we as supporters are lacking. This book is one of the best ever for motivation and mental health. We are in for a long ride here, we need to be mentally strong.