Farid A Malik |
The University of Chicago has done it again. This outstanding institution churns out change managers who can make the world more humane. In the sixties, two universities played a leading role to end the Vietnam War (Universities of Chicago and Berkeley) in which 50,000 Americans lost their lives. Senator Bernie Sanders is a graduate of this prestigious education institution located in downtown Chicago. While Berkeley is a state institution, Chicago is private (University of California at Berkeley is part of UC China).
He was part of the Martin Luther king Jr. march on to Washington in 1963. In the year 1990, he was elected to the House of Representatives from Vermont as an independent candidate. He rose to become a senator in 2006. In a very tight race with Hillary Clinton, he lost the Democratic party nomination for the President of United States in 2016. He is back again for the 2020 race. He calls himself a ‘Democratic socialist’. Bernie wants to create an economy that works for all not just for the one percent elite. He proposes free health coverage and education for all with a minimum wage of $15 per hour.
Bernie the poor kid from Brooklyn will be up against the richest from the same town in the 2020 Presidential elections in the heartland of Capitalism.
According to him Donald Trump is the most dangerous President ever who is driven by greed, lies and hatred. He desires to represent the ordinary people who live from paycheck to paycheck. Both Bernie and Trump were born in Brooklyn, New York but had a different upbringing. While Bernie’s father immigrated from Poland and struggled to survive in the new land, Trump’s old man was a wealthy real estate developer who left behind a fortune for his family. According to the Senator, the President’s father built his corporate empire through housing discrimination.
Educational Institutions play a dominant role in shaping the mindset of the new generation. Aligarh University laid the foundations of Pakistan by producing the soldiers of change who could lead the movement for an independent homeland for the Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent. It was at Chicago and Berkeley that resistance to the Vietnam war was developed. Students were the first to protest and speak out.
We the first generation of Pakistan were raised to serve the nation. The momentum of the freedom struggle was kept going. Educational institutions were playing their role in moulding the minds of the new generation. Growing up on Mall Road very near to the old Campus, I experienced the rise of a new nation under the tutelage of the seniors. There were effective interactions between the young and the old. I had the chance of shaking hands with the likes of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Wali Khan, Manzur Qadir, Shorish Kashmiri at Cheney’s Lunch Home.
Senator Bernie Sanders is a graduate of this prestigious education institution located in downtown Chicago.
There were several such places where the cross-section of the society met. Only Pak Tea House in the YMCA Complex has survived rest have perished. The old campus of the oldest university of the country now gives a deserted look. The statute of Woolner the registrar of the first major seat of learning still stands there but surrounded by pigeons not students as it used to be in the fifties, sixties and seventies.
In order to take charge of the capitalist empire of United States of America (USA) Bernie first has to win the nomination of the Democratic Party. He will then have to defeat an incumbent President who will use all his resources and power to win a second term. In USA very few incumbents have lost the elections, in the decade of the thirties it was Herbert Hoover and in the nineties George Bush Senior lost to newcomers. The prevalent deregulated, free-market approach has caused the skewed distribution of wealth. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened and is becoming unmanageable.
The hope of a better future has been replaced with despair for the young. There is a worldwide movement for change. The yellow vests movement in France refuses to subside. There are progressive voices in Italy, Greece, Spain, Brazil, UK. At the age of 77 years Senator Bernie Sanders leads the charge for change in the capitalist heartland. In 2020 it will be perhaps his last attempt to challenge status-quo and stand up for the common man.
Educational institutions were playing their role in moulding the minds of the new generation.
In UK a victory for the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn will set the tone for a worldwide shift towards the wellbeing of the downtrodden and marginalized segments of the society. Pakistan under Imran Khan is also moving in the direction of a welfare state as envisioned by the founding fathers. People’s Republic of China (PRC) has kept its course in redefining a republic where every citizen is catered for.
The big question is, ‘will democracy be able to deliver the much-needed change?” both Bernie and Jeremy have decided to follow the democratic path to ‘Socialism’. The great leader of 20th-century Chairman Mao Tse Tung said, “Revolution comes through the barrel of the gun”. He took the path of the bullets to build his socialist republic.
Perhaps ballot is a better option but only if its sanctity is respected by all, the weak and the powerful are also counted. The 21st century is bracing for change, it can go either way bullet or ballot only time will tell. The progressives of the world must unite for a better future of mankind. Bernie the poor kid from Brooklyn will be up against the richest from the same town in the 2020 Presidential elections in the heartland of Capitalism. Election results will be anxiously watched the world over as it may change the course of humanity.
Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in The Nation and has been republished here with the author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.