I woke up dream-talking as a speaker in my Public Speaking class about polarized politics and the concept of Yin and Yang… which is the idea that Yin and Yang are—and need to be—in a continual dynamic flow from one into the other and back again. The concept is based on the natural order of things on the planet. Yin (winter, nighttime, cold) has a spot of Yang (summer, daytime, warmth) and in Yang the opposite is true. Too much Yang and things burn up, we can’t sleep, and if it goes on too long we die…by Fire. Too much Yin and things freeze, we can’t move (we hibernate), and if it goes on too long we die…. by Ice. Things need to flow from Winter to Spring to Summer and back again to maintain life, healthfully, on this planet as we know it.
What has most concerned me about our current political situation is the hijacking of the system in order to control things by one side instead of allowing for fruitful interplay with opposing forces to come up with ideas that are better, more balanced and ultimately more well-thought-out enough to be acceptable and positive enough for the country as a whole.
We could think of what is happening as a pendulum swing—the Bernie Sanders campaign being the ultimate polar opposite of the right wing Tea Party-demanded Republican obstructionism we have seen for six years. Which, of course, completely freaks out those who benefit from the status quo and, rightly, is of concern even to centrist or more moderate (so-called Liberal) people like Barack Obama.
Barack Obama believes in compromise—he offers compromise positions right out of the starting gate and then, of course, refuses to compromise even further. In other words, I believe he doesn’t succeed at bargaining much because his opening position IS the compromise most real Liberals MIGHT be willing to settle for. There’s never been enough Yang in his position to balance the Yin that is an obstructionist Congress.
In my opinion, you have to have a leader who is way more Liberal than Obama—or Hillary Clinton—in order to succeed at, ultimately, creating a good enough compromise position that contains elements that are essential to the other side. Deadlock comes from unwillingness to reach middle ground (at least part of the time) because there is not enough interplay of true opposites. Eventually Bernie Sanders in Congress learned to play with the opposite side—hammering out numerous amendments to bills, mostly though bipartisan coalition building—that he has time and again been successful in getting passed. That is why he is called the Amendment King (see this excellent article to find out more: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bernie-gets-it-done-sanders-record-pushing-through-major-reforms-will-surprise-you). Bernie learned that he would never be able to get his so-called Radical ideas across full-force in the system that exists, but by sheer persistence he has managed to amend more bills to be much more acceptable to a Liberal position than any other person in Congress.
It is possible—likely—that this pendulum swing concept we see in politics IS the balancing Yin-Yang effect. That after six years of Congressional Yin—freezing out of the president and doing NOTHING of actual substance—that the biggest call to action is to put in place the opposite balancing reaction.
If Bernie goes on the attack TOO much, the tide turns back. The real moderating effect is exactly what he faces: pushback from Hillary Clinton, mainstream news media and any number of opposing forces. The payback is that he knows this. He’s already experienced it throughout his career. So this week we have already seen him come back to earth in regards to the Clinton campaign announcing quite loudly that they intended to “disqualify” him as announced on CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/06/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-democrats-unity/) immediately after his primary win in Wisconsin and in the Washington Post’s choice of headline (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/04/06/clinton-questions-whether-sanders-is-qualified-to-be-president/) within a day or two afterwards. He plays the game the way he needs to by saying on Charlie Rose (http://www.charlierose.com/watch/60712005) that attack mode is NOT how he wants to play this game… but not without having gotten his point across first. Shoot a cannon ball across my bow, he says, and I will defend my turf.
Believe it or not, no matter what happens, he got the job done. And that’s why I support what appears to be (in today’s worldview) a more extreme position on the part of Bernie Sanders. I know he is unlikely to get his policies accepted without a fight in the current Republican-controlled Congress BUT he has to put out these positions as his starting place in order to get anything accomplished. Being able to work with opposing forces, and rally enough people to push forward enough of his point of view to force a compromise from the other side, has been the cornerstone of his success in Congress and as mayor of Burlington, Vermont for more than 30 years.
And I am certain—because he says this is his continued strategy straight out—that this is how he will successfully get at least some significant things done when he is president of the United States.