I’m usually in London for theatre and concerts. Yet, there was an unmissable chance at the Southbank Centre to see Bernie Sanders live. The man who ran for U. S. President twice and remains the longest running serving independent representative in congressional history has a reputation like no over.
There was a very brief window to meet him at a reception beforehand. I may have had the privilege of being the only person at the event to get a copy signed of his new book: ‘It’s OK To Be Angry About Capitalism’, a review will soon follow. I shook his hand, as ever an honour and he had to shoot of to the main event after a little speech just for us as guests, his wife, some family and even Jeremy Corbyn in attendance. In his talk, he dazzled us with home truths about the deep troubles in his own country and on these shores. This post mortem asked us “Where do we want to go in the future?”. Strong words, indeed.
To say I’m a fan of Bernie is a huge understatement. I found even my host in London had a lot to say about the man, all highly critical and disparaging. His ideas, though old in some respects now, have only ever made people get the chance in life, the right to healthcare and as Americans love to say…“the pursuit of happiness”. I think he knows himself the baton has been passed on in these views and ideas, yet Bernie who is now 81 is still full of gusto.
The galvanising political spectrum we’ve all been lost in the past few years has only emboldened enemies of Bernie and his philosophy. Taxes are always the word in his mouth, I think most people can agree the Musks, Zuckerbergs and Bezoss should lift their wallets more often. He also spoke highly of the NHS and in a rather touching moment glowed about our Nye Bevan. The NHS may have its flaws, but we should be thankful for it in the end. He even encouraged younger people to consider getting into politics, something which is happening more now.
Interviewed by writer and academic Emma Dabiri, the evening strolled along nicely with a laid back feel. Bernie even wanted to stand for the first part of the interview since he was as he said, used to doing it that way. There was so much to take in during this discussion, oligarchs, Ukraine, wages, social media and more all popped up. I love Bernie’s frank, no nonsense approach to these topics. He happily gets to the root of these problems and the reasons for them, it’s very refreshing from some one who has been in politics for so long. We simply need more people just like him. It has to happen.
I really do wonder how the world will be after the pandemic, energy and bills crisis, strikes, the ugly return of sexism, homophobia, racism and transphobia, amongst many other fears. I feel Bernie who delighted this Festival Hall audience and live stream viewers the strength to keep going in both life, work, beliefs and everything in between.
I left London with worries, yet thankfully a lot of hope about the future.
Thank you, Bernie.
Watch the stream for free till 2 March 2023.
It’s OK To Be Angry About Capitalism, published by Crown Publishing Group/Penguin Random House out now in all good book shops and to order online.