He’s a “Nice Old Man.” – Why Bernie Sanders Lost His Power

Dear Senator Sanders:

Our Revolution.  May we please have a word?

I’m a psycholinguist.  I’m a UC Berkeley alumna.  I have an MBA in Technology Management and have successfully worked on some of the most massive “change” projects we’ve ever known.  I’m getting my Ph.D. in Transformative Consciousness.  I’m not talking out of my hat.  Please, take this into your hands.

You switched symbols.  Let me explain.

Your campaign for the DNC nomination was about “we.”  You embodied and spoke those words.  “It’s not about me – it’s about US.”  You tried to prepare us.  You moved the “us” to “you” recently, and then, you moved it again.  You moved it suddenly.  You moved it in the middle of the transition of the previous mental frame.  You moved it to “unity” and you moved it to what just a few days before was, “them.”  You moved it, unceremoniously to “DNC.”  You moved the word “us” to Hillary.

It’s a tribute to your character and the love you exude that so many are still in your corner.  Some of them/us were strongly there beforehand, and some of us were new to that awakening.  Those folks you’re hoping to reclaim as Our Revolution, however, are still in that old mental frame.  And they’re unwilling to leave it because of what you already know; they cannot arbitrate, mitigate or negotiate the differences of meaning between what they know and what they know profoundly to be what they will no longer follow.  If you picture boxes of meaning, there is negotiation capability, i.e., you can open the boxes and let other boxes share their meaning.  But there are cognitive and true biological boundaries in this negotiation between “right and wrong.”   The ceiling – tangible yet invisible – is Good vs. Evil.  Do I even need to tell you how your love-driven campaign, shifting in 2 days to a fear-driven directive, was the most painful and confrontational thing you could have done to America?  You told us to be afraid.  Not that we would beat it – but that we must beat it because we must be afraid.  And therein lay your problem.

The people you are relying on to do the change are no longer afraid.  The jump they made on your campaign was profound.  Their/our fundamental vocabulary changed.  And now, you’re using the old vocabulary.  It has no meaning anymore.  And you will never, using the words of the old, shift the paradigm of those who have already adopted the new.  It’s the story of language, the story of the biology that built it, and the story of the neurology and cognition that support it.

Being a realist, I also see clearly the options you had, and the potentials that also may lie before you.  I wish you well in completion of both those cycles. We need you.  You embody the symbol of regiven energy of the past toward the new.  You are the bridge.  To know you would do goodness and create truth, beauty and unity from it is a precious gift we already entrusted to you.  We’re waiting for the gods, and for you, to claim it for us again.  Please let this come to pass.  Make it so.

Sharon M. Slayton