Seven Stories Press, 2016
Agent: Sandra Dijkstra
Only an outsider can change the system from the inside.
Sanders puzzles the establishment. A self-identified socialist, long affiliated with neither the Democratic nor Republican parties, from the tiny state of Vermont, Sanders is a credible threat to the "inevitable" Hillary Rodham Clinton. And he's proudly doing it on a $100 million+ budget made up entirely of small donations and without Super-PAC or Wall Street contributions.
What triggered his sudden rise? Told in graphic novel form, Ted Ralls biography, BERNIE, offers a clear and condensed assessment of the rightward-drifting evolution of the Democratic Party. Most biographies involve the transformation of an individual. Most political biographies depict the evolution of a politician. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has been politically consistent for half a century. What happened is that the country caught up with him.
For this book Ted Rall interviewed Sanders, a man whose upbringing in a struggling working-class family in a hardscrabble section of Brooklyn during the 1950s taught him that poverty is a disease, one that affects us all. Incredibly, the lessons he learned back then are revolutionizing the political process this year, marking the resurgence of political progressivism on the left at the same time as the two-party system seems to be on the way out.
"Rall's illustrated work, in the same format as his acclaimed Snowden, is an illuminating, clear-headed, straight-shooting argument on why American voters should support and elect Senator Bernie Sanders to president. The first few chapters are an enlightening mini-course in contemporary American government and economics, tracing the Democratic Partys persistent movement to the right over the past several decades. Sanders, Rall argues, is the only candidate whose passions and commitments favor the American people rather than corporations or big government. Each page is half text and half illustration in Ralls signature caricature style, a format that serves up a large amount of information at an easy-to-digest pace of one idea per page. Unlike the Snowden book, this could have a potential short shelf life if Sanders isnt nominated or elected. But in the months leading up to the Democratic Convention, this is an essential survey and solid political ammunition for Sanders supporters, with appeal to politically minded readers."
"More than a campaign biography, this graphic narrative traces the decline and possible resurgence of liberalism within the Democratic Party.... An effective, if unapologetically partisan, primer on a strong voice from the left to counter the Democrats' rightward shift."
"What sets this book apart is not that it's a cartoon, but that it's an argument for placing Bernie Sanders in a particular position in U.S. history, namely as the restoration of liberalism to a Democratic Party that hasn't seen it since the McGovern campaign. In fact, a huge chunk of the book is not about Bernie at all, but is a history of the rightward drifting of the Democratic Party over the decades. Another big chunk is a history of Bernie's childhood and career. Both of these sections are well done."