“Bernie” by Ted Rall— A New Graphic Biography


Rall, Ted. “Bernie”, Seven Stories Press, 2016.

A New Graphic Biography

Amos Lassen

I have always been fascinated by books that come out during election season. As many of us realize, this is Bernie Sanders’s moment and to understand Bernie, it is a good idea to have a look at Ted Rall’s new graphic biography of the man that has already landed on three bestseller lists: the “New York Times”, the “Boston Globe”, and the “San Francisco Chronicle”. It is a clearly written assessment of how the Democratic Party has begun its move to the right.

Rall takes us back to McGovern’s loss to Nixon in 1972 and to the Occupy movement, showing readers exactly how the American public was ready to embrace a socialist calling for a political revolution. This is an “illuminating, clear-headed, straight-shooting argument on why American voters should support and elect Senator Bernie Sanders to president”.

The book begins with a mini-course in contemporary American government and economics that traces the Democratic Party’s persistent movement to the right over the past several decades. Rall maintains that Sanders is the only candidate whose passions and commitments favor the American people rather than corporations or big government. While this is a graphic book, we see that each page is half text and half caricature style illustration. This is a format that provides a lot of information in an easy way to understand. For Sanders supporters there is plenty of solid political ammunition and it appeals to politically minded readers. It is so much more than a campaign biography in that it traces the decline and possible resurgence of liberalism within the Democratic Party and is an effectively partisan look at a “strong voice from the left to counter the Democrats’ rightward shift.” It argues why Bernie Sanders is where he is politically and why there is again a restoration of liberalism to a Democratic Party that has not been there since the McGovern campaign. It is important to note that a large part of the book is not about Bernie at all but rather a history of the rightward drifting of the Democratic Party over the decades. We do also get a lot about Bernie’s childhood and career.

This can also serve as a guidebook to the Bernie Sanders campaign — and the uncompromising candidate behind it in that it is insightful as well as being totally accessible. We learn of Bernie’s early life and what made it possible for a Jewish socialist to rally voters and become a real presidential contender. I am not sure that we were able to say that just two months ago.

We all must make ourselves aware that democracy is a fragile and to survive, the ordinary citizens must be able to earn a decent living.

“Bernie” is a quick read that is sympathetic to its subject with an accurate take on political developments. is largely accurate. We naturally assume that political progressives will favor this book and indeed there is a compelling case for progressivism here. People who are not on the political left might just find themselves reconsidering how they feel about progressive politics.

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