Three Rebels vs. The Democratic Establishment

The 2020 presidential primaries is the story of three rebels battle against the Democratic Party Establishment.

Those rebels were Andrew Yang (D-New York), US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). Each of those candidates attracted a rabid and impassioned following within the Democratic base and a great deal of popular respect.

Sanders, Yang, and Gabbard receive far more popular respect than presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden (D-Delaware). Notably, podcast King Joe Rogan openly praises Sanders and Gabbard while savagely attacking Biden.

Rogan respects Sanders and Gabbard because they have strong character and values. In contrast, Rogan thinks Biden is a corrupt and incompetent weakling.

Sadly, the political establishment’s reaction to Rogan is to try to destroy him, rather than understand what he is saying. Thus, the establishment drives off a potential ally it will need in the fall.

Sanders, Gabbard, and Yang

Strangely, Yang, Sanders, and Gabbard have more in common than failed presidential campaigns. All three offer powerful critiques of American society and all three are not members of the Baby Boom Generation.

To explain, Sanders (born 1941) is part of the Silent Generation, Gabbard (born 1981) is Millennial, and Yang (born 1975) is Generation X. Hence, the three are outside the Baby Boomer generational establishment and trying to burn it down.

Thus if we want to understand where the Democratic Party is now and where it is going we need to understand those three rebels and their careers. Here are my thoughts on the terrible trio the Democratic establishment hates:

The Old Radical Bernie Sanders 

Bernie Sanders is a lifelong rebel and social democrat who has been attacking the establishment since before it was fashionable.

Bernie is both a traditional Jewish socialist intellectual and a Chomskyite. Thus, Sanders is a child of the old pre-World War II socialist left and the New Left of the 1960s.

Sanders began as a conventional left-wing Jewish radical marching for civil rights. and working at a Kibbutz in Israel. Yet, Bernie took an unconventional turn when he moved to Vermont, began working with his hands as a carpenter, and running for office as a socialist.

Sanders can criticize and attack the establishment because he was never part of it. Bernie refuses to join the Democratic Party, take money from political action committees, and take corporate money.

Additionally, Sanders refuses to attack or criticize rivals such as Joe Biden (D-Delaware). Yet, Sanders is enough of an individualist to work closely with his “friend” Joe Biden.

Sanders became one of the most popular politicians in America by offering a powerful critique of the US economy and society. Sanders’ critique that a tiny elite; the Billionaire Class, controls the American economy and harms ordinary people is now the mainstream opinion. Even the supposedly right-wing Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) echoes it.

Moreover, Sanders refusal to compromise allows him to promote and popularize a host of previously unmentionable radical ideas. Those policies include; Medicare for All, Free College, and an American pull out from the Middle East.

Sanders is not a true rebel because he was never part of the establishment. Thus, Sanders has credibility because he was never compromised or corrupted by being part of a discredited establishment.

The Renegade Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

Of the three rebels, I think the greatest threat to the American Establishment is Andrew Yang. Yang threatens the Establishment because he rejects its dogma.

To elaborate Yang bought into the Reagan era fantasy that capitalism, technology, and entrepreneurship could solve all of America’s problems. To that end, Yang organized Venture for America; an organization that recruited young MBAs to start businesses in depressed Middle American communities to create prosperity.

Predictably, the elite embraced Yang. President Barack Obama (D-Illinois) honored Yang, appointed Andrew to ceremonial positions, and invited him to the White House and the media lionized him.

Then reality caught up with Yang. Venture for America was a miserable failure that created few jobs in the Rust Belt. As a result, Yang surveyed Middle America and realized both capitalism and technological progress had failed ordinary Americans.

Consequently, Yang became a radical embracing extreme left-wing ideas including a basic income and Medicare for All. Predictably, the media that once glorified Yang branded him a nut and belittled him.

I think Yang threatens America’s status quo because he is an entrepreneur. Yet Yang admits entrepreneurship does not create wealth or benefit ordinary people.

In addition, Yang offers a credible alternative to Progressive dogma and neoliberalism in the form of technocracy. Yang can offer such an alternative because he is a big thinker who is willing to question everything.

Finally, Yang embodies Generation X’s skepticism of capitalism and the American Dream. Yang is free to question both the American Dream and Capitalism because he is an Asian person of color and an entrepreneur.

The Apostate Soldier Tulsi Gabbard

Like Yang, Gabbard was a true believer on the fast track to success who became a rebel and an outcast by questioning the system.

In 2016, Gabbard, a US Representative from Hawaii, resigned her position as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to endorse Sanders’ presidential run. Establishment media also criticized Gabbard for meeting with President-elect Donald J. Trump (R-New York) in 2016.

In 2019, Gabbard launched a presidential run based on an anti-interventionist foreign policy. The Democratic establishment rushed to criticize Gabbard. Failed presidential candidate Hillary R. Clinton (D-New York) even called Gabbard a Russian agent.

However, Gabbard attracted a large grassroots following and many admirers because of her stances. Gabbard is a favorite of many veterans and podcast king Joe Rogan.

Tulsi Gabbard is an apostate because she began questioning US foreign policy and the establishment during two National Guard tours in Iraq with a Medical Company. Witnessing the system’s failures first hand radicalized Gabbard as it radicalized Yang.

Her military service gives Gabbard a level of credibility that establishment politicians such as Clinton lack. Additionally, Gabbard is a folk hero among active duty military personnel and veterans who share her skepticism of American imperialism.

Gabbard is a rebel because she turned her back on a system willing to reward her out of conviction. In particular, Gabbard was a golden girl because she is a veteran, a politician, a woman, and a person of color, she’s Samoan.

Today, the media and the political establishment demonize Gabbard as a dangerous neoconservative and a right-wing kook. Just as they demonize Yang and Sanders as nuts.

Yesterday’s Rebels, Today’s Heroes

Rebels such as Sanders, Yang, and Gabbard are important because they could be tomorrow’s heroes.

For instance, those three remind me of a 19th Century Apostate; President John Quincy Adams (?-Massachusetts). After losing reelection to Andrew Jackson (D-Tennessee), Adams became the most prominent critic of American politics and society.

Adams gave himself a bully pulpit by getting elected to the United States House of Representatives. In the House, Adams became America’s most famous and prominent critic of slavery and the politicians that profited from it.

Thus, Adams relinquished his role as elder statesman and became a rebel. Over the years Adams championed the right of abolitionists to mail antislavery propaganda to the South and the cause of kidnapped Africans who seized a slave ship.

Adams was important because his criticism helped spark a national revolt against slavery and overturn a corrupt political system. Recently, Adams’ memory inspired the Quincy Institute, a think tank that promotes a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Adams reminds me of Bernie because, like Sanders, Adams was an outsider who operated inside the system. For instance, Adams refused to join either of the political parties of his era; the Democrats and Whigs.

In contrast, Gabbard and Yang remind me of President Theodore Roosevelt (R-New York). T.R. was the ultimate insider; a Harvard Man who served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, Police Commissioner of New York city, Vice President, and a New York state legislator.

Roosevelt became an outspoken critic of the system because of his exposure to it. Teddy witnessed corruption first hand as a state legislator, and poverty first hand as New York Police Commissioner. As President, Roosevelt found himself powerless in the face of corporate influence over Congress.

After leaving the White House, Roosevelt began promoting radical ideas such as social security and Medicare for All. In 1912, Roosevelt blew up the Republican Party and overturned America’s political elite by running for president as a third-party candidate.

In 1912, Roosevelt became the last third party presidential candidate to attract more votes than a major party candidate. Astonishingly, Roosevelt received 88 Electoral College Votes by running on the Bull Moose Ticket. In contrast, the incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft (R-Ohio) received eight Electoral College votes.

Roosevelt was important because he made progressivism America’s dominant political ideology by challenging the establishment. Notably, Progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson (D-New Jersey) won the 1912 presidential election.

History proves rebels such as Sanders, Gabbard, and Yang can change politics even when they lose. Thus, we need to watch the rebels because they could disrupt everything.