I don’t often write too much about politics. I think the main reason is that it has become so seriously flawed that no matter what I think is right or wrong, and I have yet to find a candidate who sincerely represents my views. More importantly, it is even harder to find a candidate who I feel I can respect. These two things are different. But then along came Bernie Sanders.
If you haven’t heard of, you should at least learn about him. He’s a politician. He’s a socialist democrat. As a Canadian I love that about him, but I don’t want this post to be about why I agree with his views, but rather I want to talk about why he should be respected as a politician. I’ll do my best to keep my views out and just simply state my case for why I think he’s an important politician for both democrats and republicans. So here we go:
- He is the most authentic candidate that we’ve had to choose from in a long time. Alright, maybe Trump rivals Bernie here, but I suspect that is the source of Trump’s popularity right now. Authenticity is such a refreshing thing to see in a candidate. Bernie, even before becoming a politician fought for the things he believes in and still does today. Thought riding right now under the Democratic Party ticket he has been an Independent or alternate party candidate through much of his career and does not tow party lines. This means he has courage, and courage is something we should expect out of every politician even if we disagree with them.
- He doesn’t want to play the system, he wants to dismantle it and turn it into something better. Republican or Democratic I haven’t met anybody who is educated about politics and government who thinks that government is working as efficiently as it should. Everybody talks about reforming this or that, but no politician talks enough about reforming Washington. We love shows and movies like House of Cards where we see political wheeling and dealing done in order to affect change, but why should it have to be that way? What if we as voters actually demanded politicians with integrity and who actually want to serve the people over themselves?
- He is addressing income inequality. Income inequality is one of the biggest threats we face in this country and goes hand in hand with many of the social injustices that we still face today as well. Whether you agree with his solution to dealing with it, this is not something that many Republican candidates even address. The solution simply isn’t to tell half the population of the country to work harder, given how hard many of them already work. Even if it was somehow true that all poor people were lazy it would still require some sort of solution to change that state of affairs because as the top 1% continues to siphon money away from the rest of us, we will all start to drift towards that growing portion at the bottom. Whether you agree with his solution for dealing with the growing income inequality is not the point, but it should be one of the top issues for whoever your candidate of choice is.
- He wants to take money out of politics and he lives that creed. There is only one candidate in this election that is not in the pocketbooks of corporate America and that is Bernie Sanders. In this politifact article they analyze a meme that has been going around showing Hillary Clinton’s top 10 donors compared to Bernie’s over the course of their career and it is quite telling who has the most money and why. Bernie Sanders has also pledged to not use a SuperPac. As I mentioned in point 2, he refuses to play the system. This may eventually lead to his downfall as it is clear that other candidates will raise far more money in the end, and money wins elections in this country. Republican candidates have already started sucking up to the Koch brothers who have openly said they are willing to spend a billion dollars on a Republican candidate to win the election. It is estimated that this election cycle will be the most expensive one so far with candidates raising on the order of 10 billion dollars. Just to put that in perspective that’s the same amount of money to put a quarter of a million college students through their entire 4 years of undergraduate education. Seems like a steep price to be stuck with a government that doesn’t seem to be doing its job. We’d probably be much better off with 250,000 people who were debt free and with an education starting out their lives. The money in politics is literally driving this country into the ground and turning the country into a democracy by name only.
- Bernie routinely draws massive crowds. This doesn’t seem that remarkable, but let me tell you why it is. In reference to my last point he isn’t running his campaign on a whole lot of money. Thus he hasn’t had nearly the same media coverage as Hillary Clinton or many of the Republican candidates. Largely he uses social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc) and it’s working. He speaks to a lot of younger people who are facing an uncertain future, high college debt, lower good paying job opportunities, health care, climate change, etc. He has had massive crowds at his events and still the media gives him little coverage. Thus he also exposed the media for what it is. Also a pawn for big business. It focuses on the money. It focuses on negative campaigning. It focuses on gaffs. It focuses on fundraising. It focuses on polling. What it doesn’t do is focus very well on the issues. Furthermore it doesn’t give equal time to all those who are running for President so the voter can learn how different political philosophies address those issues. You may remember last national election where Jill Stein who was running for president as a Green Party candidate was not even allowed to enter the debate for President, and was actually arrested by police when she tried to enter. While the decision to not let them participate was made by the Presidential Debate Commission, the media could have ensured fairness and pressured the commission to let all candidates speak. When the government is broken and in the pocketbooks of big business, the media is the one that is supposed to be the watch dog. Unfortunately that watch dog has rich owners and only wants to keep a watch on the money. In a country of 300 million people you need the media to fairly distribute the message of all candidates to the people so that people have real choices about who to vote for. Currently this is not done.
- Bernie will still be exactly the same should he win the primary. You see it time and time again, a candidate says different things during the primary election to win votes from the extremes of their party and then shifts their views to be more centrist during the national election. How can we trust such a politician who is clearly pandering to win votes instead of being authentic?
- He loves America but is not for American exceptionalism. The idea that America does everything best and that we have nothing to learn from the rest of the world is a dangerous one. In many of the speeches and interviews that I have seen with Bernie he recognizes that we do a lot of things well but that other countries also do some things well and then we might actually be able to learn some things from them.
I am not sure if Bernie can win, but the fact that he is having so much impact without having a corporate sponsor is impressive. The large amount of support he is receiving is hopefully a lesson to whoever wins that there is a large population of people in this country who are tired of being left behind while politicians and corporations swim in money while the middle class shrinks away into poverty. Even if Bernie were to become President he would still have to face a congress that would have a hard time supporting the changes he wants to make, especially since those changes would lighten their own pocketbooks. As this video indicates he knows that the reform we need can’t come from one man alone. But Bernie should be an inspiration to all voters, not because of his views but because of the issues he brings to light. One that weaken our entire political system, and takes away from the people’s will for self-determination. Bernie shows us that you can get your message out effectively even without large sums of money and that the people are ready for authenticity in a candidate and one that actually seems to be concerned with them instead of their own pocketbooks. I hope for more candidates that have attitudes like Bernie in the future, not only for President but for the house and the senate, and at all levels of government. And we need to do a better job and making sure that those are the kinds of candidates we get. Feel the Bern everyone and participate in your democracy.