Why Bernie Sanders?

Okay, I promise to get back to the writing-centric articles soon. Cross my heart. That said, it’s 2020 and the race for the presidency feels like it’s been going on for four years already (partly because President Trump never stopped holding rallies). It’s exhausting – I get it. Heck, I’m more political than the average person and I’m annoyed by how much political news there’s been…and its overall lackluster quality.

So, if you would allow me to climb up on my soap box. I want to tell you about a senator for Vermont and why I’m voting for him. I also want to try and convince my centrist friends out there to please, rethink your political vision of America.

Is Trump an Anomaly?

I feel a lot of the division in the democrats comes down to one question: Do you believe that Donald Trump in 2016 was an anomaly. In other words, did the political system just have a fluke and produce a result that was far from normal? Once Trump is gone, normal will return and the status quo will be re-established.

That’s one camp. The second (which I am a part of) believes that Trump is not the disease, merely a result of a corrupted class structure and a broken two-party system. In other words: I believe there is no going back to normal and that, if the system isn’t fixed, we’re going to see more Trumps (on both sides).

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this one, but I do want to give it context. Many people throw around the word “system” as nothing but a political buzzword. It’s vague and can mean almost anything. So, when I say system – know that I am referring to the economic, political, legal, and societal structure of America. These are all intertwined and sometimes it is difficult to see where one ends and another begins (especially with economical and societal).

I’ll try to give another example: If you had a two-day work week, that would be part of your economic system. It would also say a lot about your society – one that clearly values personal time over working time – that or there’s just not a lot of work left to do. Both are options.

Anyway, so I’ve noticed that people like myself in the latter camp tend to support candidates like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, and Tulsi Gabbard, whereas people in the other camp see Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar as the way to go.

Again, it comes down to faith: Faith in the current American system. I don’t have it. I think America is a wonderful country but that we’ve gone astray…and have been going that way for a while. Pretty much since Reagan came in and tried his hand at trickle-down economics in the 1980s. I don’t see removing Trump as the end of the fight – I want to change the system and thus remove the conditions that allowed this dangerous authoritarian narcissist to rise in the first place.

So, this means I’m in that camp and I’m simply supporting Sanders because he leads the field. If Warren were in first, I’d be backing her and so on and so forth.

But wait, you cry – “Isn’t Bernie Sanders a socialist?”

Socialism: Such a Scary Word!

Americans have been trained to fear the words “socialism” and “communism” since the McCarthy-led Red Scare of the 1940s and 50s. But what do they actually mean? We don’t care about communism right now, but here’s socialism’s definition:

“Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”

Yikes – doesn’t sound great. You can easily see how so many socialist states have turned into dictatorships. Give the government all the power, government becomes corrupt, government keeps the power – bam, not good for democracy. I certainly think I’d be worried if Bernie Sanders was saying things like that…

But he’s not. Bernie Sanders identifies as a “Democratic Socialist.” What does that mean? I’ll let him explain:

Okay, that gets off track pretty fast. But notice something? Bernie said a lot, but he never said “government takeover” – of anything. He simply suggested that it is morally wrong to have billions of dollars when other people are starving. He pretty much advocates for a society where individual gain is not the sole pursuit, especially not when it harms your neighbor.

I know it sounds idealistic – but he’s talking about a system that exists in countless other countries across the globe. Essentially all of Europe, many countries in Asia, and even Canada next door all have societies that agree with Sanders’ assessment. None of them criminalize wealth, but they do have more safety nets in place to protect the poor than the rich. We don’t have that here. If you’re fired as a CEO – you get a severance. If you’re fired as a retail clerk, you’re out on your ass. Seems like the latter needs help a lot more than the former. Now, if you want to argue that firing means no severance – I would listen, but that would have to be uniform.

American Socialism
We already have many socialist elements in our society. I would argue that many of these represent some of our best institutions.

In America, socialism exists if you’re rich enough. You get the best deals, the best tax right-offs, the best healthcare coverage – you name it. You have money so you qualify for all the best deals, which you don’t really need…cause hey you’ve got a lot of money.

Our system is screwed up. Not only has it enabled what may well be an addiction for the upper class, it has created a culture that prizes greed. We all dream of being rich so we can finally be free of life’s struggles. So we’ll do whatever we can, even if – and oftentimes it does – putting someone else down to help us get our way. That doesn’t sound like a healthy society.

TaxesAmerica

Now, I don’t want to go full socialist. That’s historically never worked. The government must be checked – I agree. I don’t want a government that’s any bigger than it has to be. But I also want a government that takes care of its people. That means roads, that means education, that means police and fire fighters, that means clean water, that means enabling institutions like public libraries. That means healthcare. That means protecting the many when they are threatened by the selfish actions of a few.

We used to live in a fairer society and guess what: You could still be rich. Just maybe not, you know, over $100 billion dollars rich – especially when you’re not giving ANYTHING back to the community that enabled you to rise.

I think that’s wrong and I want to try and fix it. Bernie Sanders does too.

There are No Swing Voters

Okay, but what about the middle, right? Certainly Sanders is too radical to appeal to an even-headed centrist, right? And we need those votes -after all, it is the middle who decides the election results.

This is nonsense. If 2016 didn’t convince you that an even-headed middle doesn’t exist, then perhaps this will: Let me introduce you to Rachel Bitecofer.

Bitecofer is a political research analyst with a theory – one that she has some evidence to back up. There is no swing voter. There is no group of undecided in-the-middle independents who are constantly watching the news, evaluating which candidates to vote for based on a broad appeal to “the center” (we’ll get more into this term next). Heck, even writing it down sounds silly. Do a few of these people exist – sure. But not enough to decide elections.

Bitecofer created a model based off this theory. She focused more on base turnout and less on the middle and you know what, she had the most accurate prediction of the 2018 midterms – she was off by one race. ONE. In the hundreds of congressional seats, not to mention dozens of senate seats, this woman had her prediction pan out almost exactly right.

Oh, and she made the model six months before the election and made very little change to it leading up to the vote. That level of accuracy is insane – I say that as a research analyst myself.

So, how do you win? Well, according to Bitecofer – you go where the excitement is. Who gets their people really fired up? Obviously, a lot of Americans don’t like President Trump, a man who – to date – has never had a 50% approval rating average. So there is an advantage to the democrat. That said, to maximize turnout, you want the guy (or woman) with the most passionate base. It’s hard to argue that anyone in the democratic party excites people more than Bernie Sanders. Looking at his donation numbers, they’re not exceptional – but then you remember that, unlike other candidates, pretty much all of Bernie’s money is coming from small donations.

bernie_donations_g3bzhh
Young people in particular show a lot of enthusiasm for Sanders. In 2020, millennials will have the power to be the largest voting group. Please give us our favorite candidate.

Billionaires like Bloomberg and Steyer are self-funding their campaigns. After all, they have money to spare. But Sander’s money comes from the little guys – which, as of last November, numbered over 4 million. That’s a lot of unique donations, especially for that time frame. No other candidate comes close. Choosing Bernie means gaining his army – in addition to the people who can’t stand Donald Trump. Yes, there’s some overlap to be sure but it’s hard to underestimate the power of base appeal. It was a hard-learned lesson for the democrats in 2016. They should not be quick to forget it.

The Center is to the Right

Okay, while I’m talking about center – let’s clear something up. America doesn’t have a center that is evenly in the middle. We don’t. You know how I know that? I’ve been outside the country and I’ve talked to people who are not Americans. Back in 2016, you know what a friend of mine from France asked?

“Why are your people freaking out about Bernie? He’s a moderate.”

Yeah. A lot of Canadians echoed this as well. Heck, when I lived in Canada, some people thought I was a Republican – mostly because I stated my continued respect for John McCain and what he had done for America (I respected McCain but voted for Obama. Such things are possible.)

So here’s my point: In America, we have allowed the right to define the center. You know how they do it? By making every single serious democratic nominee an example of the “far left.” Take Obama – a community organizer from Chicago, someone who specialized in bringing people from different backgrounds and leanings together. You know, a centrist. Yet even before he was elected he was branded a socialist, communist, Muslim, and a bunch of other things that weren’t true.

Ditto for Hillary Clinton, a conservative leaning democrat if there ever was one. Republican think tanks and media have come up with an idea: Label any major democratic candidate or idea as far left, that way they control the center.

I used to think that a centrist was what was needed to fix the country. Heck, it was one of the reasons I voted for Obama. But when you’re being consistently dragged to the right, to the point that your middle is conservative in any other comparable country – something is off.

We need to pivot “left” now. We need to drag the country back to center. Most centrist democrats – a few decades ago they would have been republicans. Let’s stop letting one party control both, huh? Just a thought.

If we ran Mike Pence, the republicans would say he was a left-wing socialist. Stop letting them define us.

The Other Divide in America

One last “system” thing I want to talk about. Remember 2016? Remember when a dude with no political experience beat a seasoned politician? Man, I remember. It was the craziest thing I’d ever seen in politics…since 2008.

Barack Obama
While Obama was a moderate, he didn’t run like one. He ran like someone proposing a massive change in the American system…one that sadly did not fully materialize during his eight years in office.

Okay, Trump and Obama are not the same. There is a ton of difference between a first-time senator and a reality TV host (not to mention their polar opposite personalities). That said, I feel my point is still valid. In most of its recent elections, Americans have soundly rejected the person they’ve seen as “the insider.” Even if that person wasn’t the one sitting in the White House.

Case in point, Obama and Romney. Obama was president but he still wasn’t seen as elitist as rich-man Romney, a guy who specialized in horse dancing and owning many homes. Think about Kerry and Bush – which one came off as the more normal person?

Americans are very distrustful of their system and they have been for a while. Now, even though Donald Trump is the establishment – literally, he and his people are the ones in charge – they are still so careful to brand themselves as anti-establishment. Heck, it’s crazy but, to me, it speaks to another real divide in America; one that may be more powerful than democrat vs. republican.

People don’t trust someone they see as an insider to fix the system. After all, the system does well for these people (the Clintons and Obamas have made millions off of being public servants). That’s not to say they’re corrupt, but they are rewarded for keeping the status quo.

Counties and towns that voted for Barack Obama voted for Donald Trump. That sounds insane. Like, what happened there? Oh – nothing happened, they just voted for the next outsider. If you want to take away Trump’s anti-establishment advantage, you don’t run Joe Biden. You run Bernie Sanders.

The Next FDR?

Okay, I’ve talked a lot about what I see as logical reasons to vote for Bernie Sanders. Heck, I firmly believe he has the best chance to beat Donald Trump. I believed that in 2016 and was told I was foolish. I ask the people who felt Hillary Clinton was the safer choice to please listen to me now. I am seeing something you are not, and I have history on my side. We don’t know if Bernie would have beat Trump in 2016, we only know for sure that Hillary did not.

But anyway, enough about old wounds. I want to take a moment to pitch you Bernie Sanders as a person. Jimmy Carter is often held up as the gold standard for president’s characters. And why not? The guy is practically a living saint, building homes, fighting diseases, empowering the poor. He is a true public servant – one who never removed himself from the battleground.

I think Bernie is the same type of person. This is a man who has been advocating for true equality for decades. I mean, watch this from the 1990s:

And that’s not the only time that history has been on Bernie’s side. He spoke out against the Iraq War when it was unpopular to do so – never once voting to support it. He spoke out for civil rights at a time when white people weren’t supposed to get involved in struggles that many saw as outside their own best interest. He supported marriage equality decades before our country finally ratified it. Time and time again, Bernie Sanders has done what was right, not what was popular.

He is a public servant, not a career politician. I invite you to think about the difference between the two. Is he perfect? No, absolutely not. No one is. But, with Bernie Sanders, we may have the chance to deal corruption in this country a serious blow and put the needs of the future in front of the nostalgia for a fictitious golden age. I invite you to think about that, and I strongly urge you to vote for Bernie Sanders.

Thanks for your time.

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