DISCLAIMER:  The opinions in this column are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of editors and publisher of the Austin Weekly News or any other publication.  They grow from my 40 politically-active years in West Virginia and 10 years in Chicago.

This spring’s Democratic party primary is probably the most important election in our lifetime. We’re choosing who will run against Republicans, including Trump, in November.

Trump has to go.  He’s like a Roman emperor— flagrantly rude, greedy, capricious, cruel, and bigoted.  Elected on promises to drain the DC swamp, Trump has mainly fed more swamp creatures who exploit public land, tax dollars, and prison labor for their own interests.  His administrators neglect public health. They detain immigrants like criminals, with no clear rules for citizenship. They drop more bombs and invade more countries. Their private agendas, plus a deliberate ignorance of science, mean that Trump is bungling his response to the current coronavirus crisis

But we also must face up to this: Democratic party leaders, beholden to the same vested interests in fossil fuels, big pharma, prisons, and the war machine have done little to oppose Trump‘s policies or his appointees. 

 Like the Republican party, these elite Dems and their allied corporate media mavens are infested with greed and corruption. They run in the same seamy .01% circles as Trump and his buddies.  Biden has already mentioned Bloomberg and other billionaire/ banker types for slots in his administration.        

The billionaire class are the “radicals.”  I should say, criminals. They’ve worked in both parties for over 40 years to remove regulations on banks and polluters, waste trillions on wars, steal our wages, and undermine our civil rights and liberties.  They are the ones who need to step back and “Get out of the new world if you can’t lend a hand,” as Bob Dylan sang in “Times They are Changing.”  If you have wealth, we need you to be on the right side of history.

In Chicago the Democratic machine habitually runs many candidates against a progressive one. We’ve now seen how the national Democratic party threw up many candidates to chip off parts of Bernie Sanders’ base.  Last week most all the Establishment faces combined into one and endorsed Joe Biden.  (Mary Ann Williamson earlier endorsed Bernie. Antiwar Congress woman Tulsi Gabbard  gained a few delegates, after which the  Democratic National Committee promptly changed the debate rules to keep her off the stage.   Elizabeth Warren haven’t endorsed anyone as of this writing. Note on March 11: Yang endorsed Biden.

Compared with Trump’s insults, former Vice President Biden seems comfortably familiar to many Democrats.  But have you seen Joe lately? Once a formidable debater, he stumbles In his few live appearances.  This isn’t stuttering, trying to get his words out.  Rather, he’s completely forgetting what to say.  He’s no longer mentally up to the job. Just like Trump. Here are video examples of why filmmaker Michael Moore and others are calling him out

Aside from his health issues, Biden brings an abominable track record. Four times he tried in Congress to cut Social Security.  He wrote the 1994 crime bill that put thousands of first time drug offenders in jail for years, ruining lives and families.  He voted for the Hyde amendment and is still mushy on reproductive rights.  He pushed NAFTA and other trade deals that shipped away millions of jobs. Four times he tried to cut Social Security.  Representing the credit card state of Delaware, he wrote bankruptcy laws that saddled students in years of debt.  Veterans have called out against his repeated support for the Iraq war and other expensive deadly wars for oil.   Biden takes donations from billionaires, fossil fuel companies.

Do we really want this guy representing the Democratic party? Will he really inspire millions to turn out to vote and defeat Trump?

Bernie Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont running as a Democrat for president, offers a clear choice.  Not just a candidate for office, he’s an Organizer-in-Chief,  building a movement to turn the ship around.  As mayor of Burlington, VT he set the tone and culture for that whole state. (W.Va. could be like Vermont, if we could have such leadership; see WV Recommendations below.)  Using his prestige as a progressive leader, Bernie  talked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, one of the three richest men in this country, into a $15 minimum wage for his workers. In the Senate, he got things done as the “Amendment King.”  Bernie listens and knows how to work with people, including across party lines, for positive change. 

Health care without bankruptcy, free public education, good paying jobs fixing and greening our failing roads, rails, water and sewer pipes, and energy systems, Bernie’s platform is not radical. It is sensible.

His housing plan offers to combat homelessness, unreasonable rents and gentrification and retrofit for green energy, with safegards against racial bias

 We white baby-boomers grew up in a country that actually worked for regular people.  Don’t we want the same for our kids and grandkids–and for Black and Brown and poor white kids and grandkids? Why are we so special?

 Bernie is today’s FDR. Not only do his plans make sense—so do his ways of dealing with people and the love he shows for us.  That feeling was apparent in the sweet spring air as we rallied with him Saturday downtown in Chicago’s Grant Park.   In Detroit that same day, retired civil rights leader Jesse Jackson  endorsed Bernie, noting that we are so far behind that an aggressive progressive is needed for us to even catch up.

 How will we pay for Bernie’s programs—the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, forgiving college debt, expanded social security? For one, we can adjust the tax structure.  Return to the 1950 levels where people who made more, paid more. He explains here .

Some of the funding will come by deficit spending—putting money into the economy, re “modern monetary theory.” His economic adviser Stephanie Keller explains  It’s done all the time to finance trillions of war spending.  Why not or the people and infrastructure of this country? Answer: it can!

NOTE  after March 11 primaries:  Exit polls and election results showed a wide favor for the programs Bernie proposes, but many voters, especially older ones, think Biden has a better chance to beat Trump. They are forgetting that young folks may not see much difference between Trump and Biden enough to make them come out and vote. Especially if they have to wait in long lines like in Michigan yesterday.

Bernie has announced he is continuing his campaign with the goal of showing everyone he’s the best able to beat Trump.  Stay tuned. And VOTE.

All Things are possible, if people get together, learn more about government, come to  understand one another’s racial,  cultural and economic situations, and organize.

Or we can be paralyzed with fear, not act boldly, and watch our democracy devolve into fascism– what my dad fought in World War II to stop.

We cannot wait. We cannot expect someone to rescue us.  Now that we have a leader, we  must move now, folks. We need to get together and do this. Not Me. US.


ILLINOIS, Tuesday March 17,  In Cook County IL we must keep Kim Foxx as our state’s attorney, elected by a coalition of forward-thinking established politicians with progressive and Black Lives Matter people.  Foxx has carefully used her power to cut the number of people stuck in jail awaiting trial, or serving time for minor offenses. Opponents to her courageous changes have seized on her fumbling of a case where actor Jussie Smollett apparently staged an attack on himself.  There being no perfect politician, I vote for her to stay and continue to battle New Jim Crow. Read all the facts in this Chicago Reporter story.

In 7th district I support Anthony Clark,  progressive teacher and veteran supporting Medicare for All, to becoame our new Congressman.  The Sun-Times has endorsed him, amazingly.

Look up your Illinois polling place HERE

BREAKING The Chicago mayor’s office has hinted that polling places could get moved at the last mnute. Look up yours at Chicagoelections.com   https://chicagoelections.gov/en/home.html

WEST VIRGINIA., May ’12: Looking to give our land and people a break for a change!  

 Paula Jean Swearingen  is again running for U.S. senate, this time against Shelley Moore Capito. She’s the change I wish to see.  Stephen Smith is running for governor on a non-corporate platform, and has helped to organize other candidates statewide in signing a clean government, progressive-populist pledge with WV Can’t Wait  There’s still plenty of time and energy to put into electing them.


As more populist and progressive candidates come forth, the Establishment is using the voting apparatus to keep them out.  Way in advance, districts are gerrymandered to favor incumbents. Names are dropped from voting registration.   Caucuses are counted using tricky phone apps and coin-tosses.  Voting machines are designed with non-verifiable computer-coded ballots.  Polls are mysteriously closed in areas with many Black, Brown and young voters, resulting in lines too long for working people to stand in. Poll clerks are trained to push  “provisional” (placebo) ballots that don’t get counted. Ballots are even lost on flash drives.  

Try to protect your vote. BRING YOUR ID, your voter registration card, and a piece of mail addressed to you at the address you’re voting from.  Insist on a real ballot, not provisional one even if it means waiting in line.  If you vote a mail-in ballot, make sure you mail it a week or more before your state’s election.  In Cook County, if you can, avoid early voting this time, since It’s all done on unverifiable touch-screen machines.   Clean Count Cook County is monitoring vote counts; read their posts for all the election fraud info.  A week or so after the election, they need volunteers to monitor  the official 5%,  recount tabulation.   

We must push to clean up ALL these aspects of our elections, which are among the most corrupt in the world.

Bonni McKeown

"Barrelhouse Bonni" McKeown, the author of "West Side Blues Blog," has played piano and written about blues music for over 15 years. www.barrelhousebonni.com  She has led classes for young and old on...