I am a New Yorker who will be voting for Bernie Sanders on April 19 in our primary. Because of the arcane laws of the State of New York, I can only do that because I am a registered Democrat. If I wanted to vote for him and had not registered as a Democrat before October 15, I would be shit out of luck. Thus begins my list of reasons for voting for Bernie:
1. Voter suppression. It's real. Yes, it began with the GOP and the Supreme Court vacating the Voting Rights Act. Yes. But the Clinton camp has done very little to avoid the issues that have been revealed as people in state after state have been disenfranchised, due to odd rules, their party affiliation switching for no reason, too few polling stations, too few ballots, and the like. The only people I saw in New York before the registration deadline registering voters were Bernie supporters. This fact speaks volumes about who wants to bring new people into the political system, and who is attracting those new people.
2. There is so much money in elections, most of it given in form of Super PACs and most of that given by about 50 billionaires, who have effectively held this country hostage to their own interests. This is true on the Democratic and Republican sides. The only person not taking this money is Bernie Sanders. This matters. He is raising enough money to stay competitive in his primary battle by small donations, the average of which is $27. If you think this doesn't matter, then ask Hillary why she won't release the transcripts of her speeches for which she was paid 225K each
by Goldman Sachs. That kind of money buys influence. There is no planet on which Goldman Sachs or anyone else pays that kind of money for a 20 minute speech unless they get something for it. The fact is we live in an oligarchy right now. Princeton University came to this conclusion, not just me. There is - no conspiracy about lizards necessary - a small cartel of very rich people who own our political system. It's not rocket science then why we have the greatest income inequality in the US since the 1920s. Only Bernie is not beholden to these donors and their banks and corporations. This matters. This means he can ask for - and when he wins the Presidency - have the mandate to demand changes that need to be made in the tax system and the way in which we spend our money to be more fair.
3. The climate is changing Now. Coral reefs are bleached Now. The Arctic Ice Cap is melting Now. Not later, not 50 or even 20 years from now. Now. In other words, we need someone who is not beholden to fossil fuel companies who can implement bans on fossil fuels, promote sustainable energy solutions (we have the technology - we've Had the technology - we just haven't had the political will, because fossil fuel industries have bought all the politicians), institute a carbon tax and ban fracking (which is also contaminating the water supply - water being the next resource that will be as valuable as oil has been). We cannot be incremental about these changes. We can't wait for agreements with all the other countries. We need to lead, and we need to do it Yesterday. If we want a livable planet for not only our children, grandchildren, etc. but also our own old age, action must be taken urgently.
4. Much is said about how much more pragmatic Bernie's opponent is, but I don't know what she has accomplished with all this pragmatism. Part of this idea is drawn from Kissinger's 'real politik' doctrine, which is basically a fancy way of saying the ends (world free for rich people and capitalism) justify the means (killing whomever gets in the way - leaders, people, animals, whole ecosystems - whatever). I reject this idea. So does Bernie Sanders. No, you don't send children back to Honduras to "send a message" (Clinton). No, you don't kill people in Cambodia to get points in Vietnam War negotiations (Kissinger). The list goes on. The constant war footing we are on benefits exactly no one except a few wealthy people who own weapons' manufacturing businesses and fossil fuel companies who then mine resources. The end. Why do we not have "enough money" for national health care, free college, food for our own children who live in poverty...look no further than All War All The Time.
5. Israel and Palestine. Bernie Sanders is Jewish, he lost family in the Holocaust and lived in Israel as a young man. He supports Israel's right to exist. He Also supports the Palestinian people's right to exist in dignity. He can call out disproportionate responses (as with Gaza) when he sees it. He could be the honest broker we desperately need to help negotiate a lasting peace. Remember that this conflict is what recruiters to fun organizations like ISIS and Al Queda point to as proof of why we are the Great Satan, etc. It is in their interest as much as wealthy people here who want to be on a constant war footing that this peace never happen. It is in the interest of the Vast Majority of the Rest of Us that it does. (p.s. Bernie has done more for returning Veterans than almost anyone else. That is why so many Vets are supporting him.)
6. Bernie has been for $15 minimum wage from the beginning - for all states. The Fight for $15 fast food workers proved that if you ask for what you need and deserve to live like a human being rather than a feudal slave, you can get it. If you commit to your action and don't waver. If you act like Bernie has his whole career. You don't back down. You don't say, oh maybe we'll just...No. You fight, because it's right and because of the crazy level of income inequality. You fight because if you get $15/hour from giant corporations, then the rest of your fellow citizens don't have to pay the taxes to support the Food Stamps necessary for the people working full time to feed their own children.
7. This leads to ending Corporate Welfare. It's time we stop having to pay for the upkeep of employees of corporations who won't pay their workers enough to live about the poverty line. This is insane. Think about it. How much money does anyone need? The super rich are still lobbying to get even more super rich. Meanwhile, their employees don't have enough money to feed their children. This is insane. We are paying money to the Walton family of Walmart to pay their employees starvation wages so their family (of 8 people) can own as much as 150 million other Americans.
8. While there are many more reasons to vote for Bernie, breaking free of Rich People Stockholm Syndrome is where I will end. I watched Reagan get elected when I was 17 years old. I cried. A lot. I saw what was going to happen as a consequence, and tragically, I was right. Everything I feared and more occurred. The worst of all these things in relation to America's domestic situation was this: poor people went from being considered unfortunate and probably in need of assistance to lift them out of poverty to being considered "sick, criminals, lazy, welfare queens, frauds, bad, addicts..." etc. An entire group of people were shamed and convinced that their lot was a "bad lifestyle choice." This idea then gradually morphed into the working poor, and the working class. Those 'poor schmucks' who thought that they could have a factory job that could support their children found themselves downsized into poverty and desperation. This trend got a big assist from Bill Clinton's administration, which with a lot of soaring rhetoric in effect completed Reagan's agenda, with disastrous trade policies such as NAFTA that actually rewarded corporations for dumping American workers and going overseas or to Mexico to hire people for pennies an hour. Bill Clinton also created 'welfare reform' - the effects of which are visible now - with many millions of children undernourished and many single mothers or poor parents desperate for help. I say visible, but should say invisible. Most of this poverty is Not visible to those with money because a lot of this poverty is rural or in neighborhoods in cities people of means don't ever see OR the very people who need help the most stay quiet about it, because they are afraid of the stigma of even asking for help or seeming as if they need it. Now, even middle class children are affected, because college tuitions are soaring and even if they can get in, they come out in debt, crushing debt and unable to find decent work.
Most people I know (and I'm 52) can't even dream of buying a home. Even if you have a Ph.D. (like I do), most of us can look forward to working as an Adjunct College Professor (like I do), which means getting paid essentially minimum wage, with no job security and no office. Over half of all teachers are adjuncts now. So, this mindset has even seeped into higher education. Students pay more money for less. Most professors work for a pittance. Meanwhile, college presidents and administrators make very large salaries. In other words, over time, every institution has been taken over by Rich Person Stockholm Syndrome. Health care is considered health insurance. Think about this for a moment. If you call the police, do they ask if you have crime insurance? Does a firefighter ask to see if you can pay for their services? Asking someone desperately ill walking into a doctor's office for their insurance information first is equally insane, especially when most all other countries in the world guarantee health care as a right, not a privilege. But we don't see how crazy, because we are all victims of Rich Person Stockholm Syndrome. Having been hijacked by rich people and corporations to do their bidding and see their way, we can't see outside this box. Therefore, when someone like Sanders comes along and calls bullshit on this for everyone else who doesn't benefit, the first impulse is to attack or belittle him. All he is saying is: this system is crazy. He is asking: why as a democracy are we being controlled by 50 or so rich people and their agendas? This is a legitimate question. A good question, and not one to be dismissed as "populist rhetoric."
And let's take a moment to look at that phrase: "populist rhetoric" - what is the point of it? The point is to belittle the speaker and to employ classist shaming techniques. A perfect abuser move. Oh, you think you have a point? No, you don't. You're "over simplifying". You're "over reacting". Dear, dear, you're hysterical! In other words, anyone who speaks up outside of the narrow frame of rhetoric that doesn't threaten the status quo (which primarily benefits a very small group of billionaires), is sidelined as a crank, a whacko, an idealist or - horror of horrors - an ideologue! As if capitalism isn't its own ideology. I mean, please. No. No. No. To point out the inhumanity of a system that places profits for a few over the very lives - never mind well being - of the many - is not ideology. It's reality.
So, I urge you - if you believe in Bernie's ideas, then vote for him. We have a chance to remake the political map. Remember, too, in the 1930s, we elected FDR and Germany elected Hitler. We got the better deal. Desperate times require voting for someone who understands how desperate the times are and can act accordingly. Acting accordingly requires seeing clearly.
Finally, for those of you who say but Bernie can't get anything done with this Congress, a gentle reminder: neither has Obama and neither could Hillary. Moderation is getting nowhere as a strategy. What we need to do is elect a new Congress. That is basic. We get to go to the polls for everyone in 2016, not just President. For those who say Bernie's not practical, go look at his record. He's been at this game since the early 1980s. The reason people are telling you he can't do what he's saying is because they are scared witless that he can. The same 50+ billionaires also own all the main stream media, don't forget. Read any newspaper or watch any TV and you will see the bias.
So, for all these reasons (including the fact he is far
more electable in the general election than Hillary, since he's killing it with the independent voters, which are the biggest voting block in the country), I'm voting for the guy who has broken free from Rich People Stockholm Syndrome and is helping others do the same. I'm voting for Bernie Sanders.