Boots Riley recognizes the need for radical direct action––Because without radical direct action, nobody will listen and nothing will change.
Boots Riley, the activist, rapper, writer, and director behind Sorry to Bother You–the most underrated movie of 2018 (although that's to be expected from majority white mainstream media when it comes to a biting satire about code switching and capitalist enslavement of black people)–has taken to Twitter with his endorsement of Bernie Sanders.
In a phenomenal thread spanning 33 tweets, Riley lays out his reasoning behind supporting Sanders, despite the fact that he has never previously voted for a presidential candidate. His words speak to the experiences of many Sanders' supporters (especially circa 2016) and reflect the ideological core that sets leftists apart from liberals.
Riley's thread outlines his belief that in order to have actual "democracy," we need to live in "a world in which the people democratically control the wealth that we create with our labor."
Riley recognizes the need for leftist activists, or "radicals," to push us in that direction through direct action––Because without direct action, nobody will listen. Riley traces movements that fall in this vein, from the Anti-Iraq War movement (whereby millions of people took to the streets but were ineffective in convincing anyone with the necessary power to stop the war) to the Occupy Movement (which brought discussions of capitalism and the 1% into the mainstream public conscience) to Black Lives Matter (which spoke out against cops disregarding the lives of black people and ultimately proved that even communal anger rarely results in any action from those in power).
"We must have movements with teeth," Riley says. "Ones that are able to force the hands of power."
To this end, Riley sees value in radical, militant labor movements wherein workers organize to strike in solidarity and in large enough numbers to shut down business. Riley points to Wayfair furniture workers' successful strike to stop the company from working with ICE and 20,000 Google workers rolling work stoppage walkouts to force management into addressing issues including workplace sexual harassment.
In a hyper-capitalist society, collective movements with the power to shut down industries by withholding labor might very well be the only way to ensure representation and effect change.
Ultimately, Riley clarifies that he doesn't necessarily agree with Bernie on every single thing but that Bernie is the only candidate propped up by a movement consisting of millions of actual working class people who are actively banding together to engage in necessary class struggle.
Funnily enough, another Twitter user presumably read through Riley's entire thread and still said, "I like what you're saying here. Will you show up to vote for any of the other candidates if Bernie doesn't win the nomination?"
To which Riley concisely responded, "Nope."
Many, many people, especially working class people who fall along various lines of intersectionality, do not feel represented in American politics. Donald Trump may be an especially rancid embodiment of the racism and corporate greed at America's political core, but we can't pretend that centrist Democrats have the best interest of working class people at heart either, even if their social policies are slightly better.
The truth is that most politicians on both sides of the aisle are bought out by corporate interests, lobbyists, and the uber-wealthy––or, alternatively, fall into the uber-wealthy class themselves, and they aim to use their vast wealth to buy their way into government positions. None of these politicians, with their corporate donors or billions of dollars, give two sh*ts about people who work full-time and can barely afford rent and food.
But that's the beauty of a grassroots movements like the one surrounding Bernie Sanders. His supporters aren't corporations and lobbyists. They're working class people who are sick and tired of not being represented in American government––not just by Trump, but by the entire two-party system. There's a reason that, despite Bernie Sanders leading all other democratic candidates in support from non-white voters (not to mention overall support), mainstream corporate media has continued to bash him at every turn while continually posting op-eds with headlines like, "It's time to give the elites a bigger say in choosing the president."
This is real op-Ed in the Washington Post I don’t know what to say https://t.co/NVugEyiRBd https://t.co/VRokp51RRv— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@Yashar Ali 🐘) 1582092687.0
Don't get tricked into believing that having a common enemy in Trump automatically puts leftists and liberals on the same side. The liberals who support candidates like Biden, Buttigieg, and especially Bloomberg–insisting that everyone must be united to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 while parroting the racist, sexist Bernie Bro myth to erase the women and POC who support Sanders in massive numbers–are the same breed of "white moderate" that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned about:
"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a 'more convenient season.'"
Nobody is obligated to "hold their nose" and vote for a transphobic, racist, sexist like Mike Bloomberg, and doing so isn't such a far cry from all the Trump voters who claimed to dislike the things Trump says but voted for him anyways. Moreover, there's practically a zero percent chance that Bernie won't have a plurality of delegates going into the Democratic National Convention, especially considering his overwhelming support among individual voters. Nominating anyone other than Bernie in this case would prove that the DNC isn't aligned with the American people, so take heed. If the DNC wants to force a choice between oligarchs, they should prepare for a lot of people to abstain.
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