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Just Outside The Berniesphere

Bernie EarthNo one could ever accuse Bernie Sanders of being a single-issue candidate. In fact, there’s something for everyone to like, whether you’re concerned about Climate Change or Worker’s Rights, Bernie’s got your back.

Bernie’s Got Your Back. I like the sound of that. I should submit it to the campaign.

Yet, I’ve encountered more than a few folks that don’t yet understand that they actually agree with Bernie on at least one or two issues. Most of these people consider themselves to be right-of-center politically. But they aren’t really. They think that because they’ve been exposed to a seemingly never-ending feedback loop, echoing from every TV set or radio within their proximity.

For others, it’s more like the ‘imprinting’ – the psychological phenomena that describes why people remember mom’s cooking with great fondness – even if ‘mom’ cooked like Elly Mae Clampett.

If you need an example of this, just go on Twitter, and wait. It’ll come to you, if it hasn’t already. Sometimes they come in the form of a troll. You all know who I’m talking about – creeps with handles like ‘BigBalls55’ or ‘SuperTruePatriot’, neither moniker an accurate description of the account holder.

I had one just the other day. Didn’t know the guy, don’t follow him and he doesn’t follow me. But there he was, ready to fight about…whatever. I was sharing a link to FeelTheBern.org about Sanders’ plan for free college tuition. Now I know that you think that it’s a good idea for a society to have more people educated as opposed to fewer, because logic. But FreedomWolf didn’t agree.

FreedomWolf (not his real name) replied to said tweet “Free Shit, Free Shit, Free Shit for everyone. That’s all you hear from socialists”.

I told him nothing is free, everyone knows that. Then I asked him if he was aware of how Sanders’ wants to fund free tuition. He said “What else? By raising everyone’s taxes”. I then asked him if he remembered the Wall St. bailout and he said he did. I told him the plan was to tax, at 0.5%, Wall St. transactions. That meant no money was coming out of his pocket at all. It seemed like he didn’t like that answer as he left the conversation (because no free citizen prepared to defend liberty can ever lose an online debate – ever!). But, I have a feeling he’s been thinking about it. A lot.

Which brings me to another example of someone living just outside the Berniesphere. His last name is Gayan (or Gayhan) and he’s a real life person that Will Bunch talks about in his book “Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama”.

The following is an excerpt:

You ask Gayan what he does when he’s not selling DVD’s and other knickknacks at gun shows, and he tells you that he’s “retired”. You ask what he used to do, and it turns out he’d worked for some thirty-two years at his hometown’s West Bend Industries, producing plastic parts for coffeemakers and other small appliances. In 2001, when Gayan was only in his late forties, his position vanished as the small appliance makers of central Wisconsin moved most of their jobs to the cheap labor markets of China. “I lost my job, so I kind of ended up retiring,” he says. Does he harbor any resentment? “Yeah, that kind of grates on you. I’ve said that the next time corporate America wants to go to war, maybe they should go hire a bunch of Chinese and Mexicans to fight it.”

Before you leave, Gayan wants to make sure you see his favorite sale item, a T-shirt with a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “The beauty of the 2nd Amendment is that you will not need it until they try to take it.”

“I looked for two years for that quote because I wanted to get it right,” Gayan says. “I found it on (website redacted).” Actually, there’s a reason that it took Gayan so long to find the quote that he’s now selling: there’s no evidence that Jefferson ever said it – although it now circulates widely on the internet, one of a number of bogus quotes attributed to the Founding Fathers that fuel the Obama backlash.

The real war in America – the dismantling of the nation’s heartland economy – didn’t have the same emotional pull for Gayan.

A couple of points:

  1. Gayan, who I think is representative of many people currently outside the ‘sphere, is really pissed about his job being outsourced – to anywhere.
  2. The fact that a bogus quote can gain so much traction is instructive – a classic example of how misinformation is disseminated.

So, how do we reach Gayan and his friends beyond the Berniesphere? With real information presented in a non-challenging manner. Gayan agrees with Bernie about ‘Free Trade’, he just doesn’t know it yet. It’s our job to reach out to the Gayans of America and give them evidence, a la Bernie Sanders, and then let them decide for themselves.

Give people the truth, and they’ll embrace it – but it has to be their decision – or at least it has to feel as if it’s their decision. People prefer discovery better than persuasion. Be like Joe Friday – Just The Facts.

This is our campaign. We are the media. It is our responsibility to bring folks like Gayan and FreedomWolf back into the fold. They are, after all, our neighbors, maybe even family members.

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About Patrick Doyle

Patrick Doyle used to be that quiet kid in the back of the classroom that nobody paid much attention to until they needed help with their homework. Now he's a volunteer for Bernie Sanders and writes for The Bern Report. Things have changed quite a bit.

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