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The Danger of a Cult of Personality

by Jason Frerichs

I need to have a conversation with both my Bernie and Hillary folks.  Politicians are not perfect.  People are flawed and politicians are still people.  There isn’t a perfect candidate.  There isn’t a leader you are going to agree with 100% of the time.  According to modern day neuroscience, reasoning is permeated with emotion.  The two are extremely intertwined.  It’s important to remember this when we decide which candidate we will support.  As logical and objective as we try to be, emotion will always play a part.  That is why it’s important that we do not reject those who supported a different Democratic presidential candidate.  I know why I supported Bernie Sanders.  He was the first politician who echoed my political beliefs and my values.  I had an immediate emotional connection to him.  Those who know me personally or even those who only know me from my writing, know that I am a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, so Bernie family, I’m going to address you first.

The Cult of Personality for Bernie Sanders has got to end.  He isn’t always right.  In fact, sometimes he’s 100% wrong.  The latest controversy is Bernie standing by anti-choice Omaha Mayoral candidate Heath Mello.  While a state senator in Nebraska, Mello co-sponsored a 20-week abortion ban and that was signed by the governor in 2010.  I am very disappointed to see a decent amount of mostly male Bernie supporters supporting Bernie on this.  I suspect that many of them would have been up in arms if  Hillary Clinton had been the one standing with Heath Mello.  I suspect many supported Bernie’s stance solely because Bernie made it.  Bernie Sanders has a lot of great ideas, but I wish he would shut up about identity politics and recognize that economic justice and identity politics are intertwined.  He’s wrong on this issue and furthermore, he comes across as tone deaf on racial issues.  It’s important that we call out our leaders when they are wrong.  Bernie would ask that we hold a neoliberal’s feet to the fire.  We must also hold his feet to the fire.  My support for Senator Sanders has not diminished.  He would not vote to limit a woman’s right to choose.  I merely disagree with him for supporting someone who would.

Hillary supporters, she lost and it sucks.  I voted for her.  I was heartbroken when Trump won.  She was the better candidate and we’d be much better off right now if she were the president.  Racism and misogyny were big reasons she lost.  They weren’t the only reasons.  There are many legitimate reasons people were not comfortable with her as a candidate.  It is possible to reject her candidacy for well thought out reasons that have nothing to do with buying into 30 years of right-wing attacks.  Her campaign team did an extremely bad job and if she had a decent staff, I honestly believe she could have overcome all her baggage and won the election.  Hindsight is 20/20 though.  I can’t remember a losing candidate ever having the cult of personality of Hillary Clinton.  I’ve read tweets, articles, and essays blaming everyone under the sun except Hillary Clinton for her loss.  Professor Susan Bordo actually wrote a horrible, poorly researched, and frankly insulting take on the entire matter.  Anyone who values competent analysis and reasoning should reject it entirely.   Her basic premise is that if you didn’t support Hillary Clinton, you were ignorant and believed Republican lies.  Not only is that inaccurate, it’s personally insulting.

To summarize, hero worship isn’t helpful.  Neither Bernie or Hillary is perfect or the devil.  They are flawed human beings, just like all of us.  They also happened to inspire us for many different reasons.  We should praise them when they are right and harshly call them out when they are wrong.  They wouldn’t expect any less from us.  It’s what we should do because no one is above being called out.  I’ll drink with a Bernie supporter and I’ll drink with a Hillary supporters.  I find my allies through shared values, not based who supported who in the 2016 Democratic Primary.

 

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Jason Frerichs View All

Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

5 thoughts on “The Danger of a Cult of Personality Leave a comment

  1. The major problem I have with the Democratic Party, and I was a member who resigned, is they colluded in favor of one Candidate and their bi-laws state they remain neutral. Also, Debbie Wasserman Shultz should have resigned as the Chairman because of her affiliation with Hillary Clinton, having been a staff member in Hillary’s 2008 bid for President. The lack of ethics is alarming.

    Further, many Democrats, including Hillary and others, stating that one payer Healthcare is “Pie in the Sky.” So let’s just examine this claim.

    The first evidence I will detail: Corporate compensation.

    Aetna compensated CEO Mark Bertolini to the tune of $27.9 million.

    American Family Insurance CEO Jack Salzwedel earned $1,062,500 base salary with a bonus of $6,195,753 and other compensation of $419,410 for a total compensation package of $7,677,664.

    Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish: $13.5 million.

    United Healthcare is the largest Health Insurance company in the United States.

    http://www1.salary.com/UNITEDHEALTH-GROUP-INC-Executive-Salaries.html
    Top Executives at United Healthcare
    Name/Title Total Cash Equity Other Total Compensation
    Stephen J. Hemsley $5,022,000 $9,350,485 $145,679 $14,518,164
    CEO

    David S. Wichmann $4,836,700 $6,600,393 $144,724 $11,581,817
    Pres/CFO

    Larry C. Renfro $4,836,700 $6,600,393 $152,265 $11,589,35
    VChairman/CEO, Optum

    Marianne D. Short $2,495,293 $3,100,358 $86,496 $5,682,147
    Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer

    D. Ellen Wilson $2,096,823 $2,412,682 $82,178 $4,591,683
    Executive Vice President, Human Capital

    There are a total of 42 Health Insurance Companies in the United States that I was able to verify. S

    https://www.statnews.com/2016/05/26/ceo-pay-pharma-health-care/
    CEO Company Total Yearly Compensation
    Leonard S. Schleifer Regeneron Pharmaceuticals $47,462,526
    Jeffrey M. Leiden Vertex Pharmaceuticals $28,099,826
    Larry J. Merlo CVS Health $22,855,374
    Robert J. Hugin Celgene $22,472,912
    Alex Gorsky Johnson & Johnson $21,128,866
    Michael F. Neidorff Centene $20,755,103
    Alan B. Miller Universal Health Services $20,427,309
    Kenneth C. Frazier Merck & Co. $19,898,438
    Miles D. White Abbott Laboratories $19,410,704
    John C. Martin Gilead Sciences $18,755,952
    Richard A. Gonzalez AbbVie $18,534,310
    Heather Bresch Mylan $18,162,852
    David M. Cordani Cigna $17,307,672
    Mark T. Bertolini Aetna $17,260,806
    George A. Scangos Biogen $16,874,386
    Robert L.Parkinson Baxter International $16,648,750
    John C. Lechleiter Eli Lilly & Co $16,562,500
    Marc N. Casper Thermo Fisher Scientific $16,307,079
    Robert A. Bradway Amgen $16,097,714
    George Paz Express Scripts Holding $14,835,587

    There are more Pharmaceutical companies in America, and, there are more Medical Device Manufacturer’s.

    So all this money for CEO’s who do not invent anything, they just run the company to sell the pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and supply companies. If we were to have one payer, we would be able to do away with the Insurance Companies. The money you pay each month now to insurance companies would go to the one payer healthcare plan. The formula to calculate this would be:

    (number of workers X monthly premium = Monthly Intake to support the plan)

    For start up of the program, the insurance companies would be required by law to turn over the monies paid in to accounts that is sitting in equity accounts but I would advise this being done on a slow basis so you won’t cause a major stock market decline or crash.

    The next step is to regulate the pharmaceutical companies compensation to Administrative staff. They don’t invent the medicines. This would bring down the cost of medicines which could be standardized. The same for device manufacturer’s, for total joint prosthetics, et.al. All of this money would actually help employ more physicians, nurses, technicians, and ancillary staff which actually take care of the patients.

    Lets say 150 Million people are employed and they paid 100 dollars each month.

    (150,000,000 X $100 = $15,000,000,000 (150 Billion dollars) per month X 12 months = $180 Billion per year. We would have the money from insurance companies and be able to either up the payment plan or lower it.

    All the companies, like Walmart, who do not pay insurance would have to pay into this plan. This would help fund the program as well because currently most of these people cannot afford insurance.

    It’s NOT pie in the sky as Hillary Clinton declares.

    The other most notable problem I have with the current state of the Democratic Party is their inability to embrace what many Americans would throng to and that is returning democracy to the United States rather than what has occurred over almost 40 years, starting with Reagan. Deregulation of the banking/financial system of the United States, and the disregard for separation of Church and State which have caused a further divide in income and philosophy in the United States. I would call for amendments to the Constitution that would overturn Citizen’s United, Stipulation to the Supreme Court they must rule on points of law and not on political affiliation, get the money out of politics, ie. national elections and bar lobbyists. I would also want an amendment which states that corporation’s are NOT PEOPLE and set the Corporate Tax rate in the Amendment to NOT BE LOWER THAN X number. I would do the same for those having holdings over $50Million. (more in line with taxes paid after WW2) I would also like an amendment for term limits in Congress, and it would also remove the ability of Congress to give themselves a raise.

    All of these measures would help to restore Democracy. I would also say that those individuals like the Koch Brothers are viewed by myself as domestic terrorists. Their was is not done with guns, but rather money in order to have an oligarchy that benefits the 1% and is destroying the democracy built on the backs of the 99%, not just in being employed and paying taxes, but also in fighting in wars from the American Revolution to today’s conflicts/police actions.

    Thank you,

    Carl W. Robinson

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  2. Thanks for this wobbly attempt at unity. You give an example of how Bernie backed a flawed candidate, good. He should be reprimanded. Also on some bad votes on war. But Clinton got no reprimands for a specific vote, action as sec of Srate, etc. It does not suck that she list to me. PS I am fighting Trump on his turf, the streets. He is a street thug, always has been. Unify behind that and get to a rally, risk an arrest for something, or else get out of the way.

    Like

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