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A student for Bernie Sanders: supporting the progressive viewpoint

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February 29, 2016

9:18 PM

On March 1, I will be voting for a pragmatist. I will be voting for a candidate who was dubbed the “Amendment King” during his 16 years as a U.S. Congressman; who fought to include $11 billion in funding for community health centers in the Affordable Care Act; who passed a bipartisan reform of the Veterans Administration. I will also be voting for a pragmatist, a radical and a self-described “democratic socialist.” Next Tuesday, I will be voting for Bernie Sanders.

Income inequality has reached grotesque levels not seen since the eve of the Great Depression. Labor force participation is at its lowest level since the anemic economy of the early Reagan administration. Real unemployment is at 9.9 percent. 33 million people are still without health insurance. At the same time, corporate profits and the stock market indexes have reached record highs. Unlimited sums of money, largely from the checkbooks of the “winners” in this economy, are funneled into the political process to candidates hostile towards even the most modest of regulations or welfare programs.

Senator Sanders has taken his case directly to the American people with a people’s campaign that offers a progressive vision for a democratic American future.

Enter Bernie Sanders, a public official who recognizes the dire threat posed to American democracy because of the accretion of political and economic power by a small faction within the population. He has spoken out against this injustice throughout his political career, and his current campaign offers a blueprint of how to break the stranglehold that this emerging plutocracy has on our republic. Rather than follow his opponent by cozying up to Wall Street financiers who seek to rig the game for themselves, or surround himself with lobbyists in thrall to the economic royalists, Senator Sanders has taken his case directly to the American people with a people’s campaign that offers a progressive vision for a democratic American future.

Sanders’s proposals are hardly extreme when viewed from a global perspective — or when one considers the progressive tradition here in the United States. His promotion of single-payer healthcare for all is well within the mainstream of social democratic (even conservative) politics throughout the developed world. His proposal to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure reconstruction jobs program is in fact far less than the amount recommended by the American Society of Civil Engineers to bring the country’s infrastructure up to par — and is yet significantly greater than that offered by Secretary Clinton or any Republican contender. Bernie’s refusal to coordinate with a super PAC financed by billionaires, and his record-setting success of raising small-dollar donations, speak to his ironclad commitment to reforming our disgrace of a campaign finance system. On foreign policy, Senator Sanders tacks closer to President Obama’s restrained use of force than does Secretary Clinton, who has criticized the president for not engaging in more capricious military adventurism along the lines of Iraq and Libya.

Far from being a “single issue candidate,” Bernie Sanders offers a comprehensive plan to challenge the emergence of an oligarchy in this country.

Far from being a “single issue candidate,” Bernie Sanders offers a comprehensive plan to challenge the emergence of an oligarchy in this country. True, he hammers home the need to curtail the plutocracy arising in our midst. He recognizes that concentrated wealth allows the purchase of politicians to obstruct decisive action on climate change, healthcare and the preservation of the welfare state. Without a meaningful challenge to this system of legalized corruption, all other attempts at reform will come up short.

This is why I will vote for Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday. Contrary to what the pundits will tell you, the struggle will not end on March 1, nor will it end at the Democratic National Convention this summer. The battle for the soul of the Democratic Party and for the future of American democracy is just getting underway.

Email Alex Frey at [email protected]

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  • Alex Frey

  • BMo

    This article hits on some important points, but I would just like to add some here about other major issues, especially given that this supporter seems to be a more left-wing Bernie supporter.

    I am centrist on economic issues, so supporting Bernie surprises me as
    much as anybody. I never could have seen this coming even two months
    ago.

    I have to have a ton of respect for Bernie on social issues
    and leadership ability. He has been supporting LGBT rights since the
    70s, when he ran with a party that had legalization of same sex
    relations and marriage in its platform, and in the 80s even introduced a
    measure to help prevent housing discrimination against gay people. At
    the time, the level of support for LGBT rights was under 20%.

    His support for the Civil Rights Movement and the risks he took are also
    becoming more publicized recently. This was not an easy position to take
    at that time. He paid for it with his arrest and fines.

    When it came to the Iraq war, Bernie once again stood against what the majority
    were saying and knew that it would be a disaster. This could have saved
    thousands of American and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.

    He has been combating the influence of money in politics since at least
    the 90s, and has made opposing the corrupting influence of superPACs
    since the Citizens United ruling a centerpiece of his campaign.

    In all of these cases, Bernie Sanders knew what should be done long
    before almost anybody else, and was willing to take a stand. That is
    what leadership is. That is why I respect him so much.

    Hillary may take many of the same stances, but she is come lately to them, and
    they often contradict what she said before. If you agree with both
    candidates, shouldn’t you support the one who had the foresight on these
    issues to take that stance years before? I used to favor Hillary over
    Bernie largely on the basis of economic issues, but now she has changed
    her positions to match his on many of those issues anyway!

    I also frankly don’t believe Hillary stands where she claims she does a lot of
    the time. Aside from well known changes on the Iraq war and same sex
    marriage, she has also suddenly started supporting a pathway to
    citizenship for illegal immigrants, decided that she opposes both the
    TPP and the Keystone XL pipeline, and has done a 180 on criminal justice
    issues such as mandatory minimums (which she has recently been called
    out for by Black Lives Matter protesters).

    In 2006 Hillary voted in favor of building a border wall while Sanders voted against it. How is she going to run against Trump when they can use that against her so easily? Even if she changed her mind on that, Bernie was once again there from the start, and people are just going to see it as yet another
    flip-flop

    Everybody changes their mind, that’s fine. Most people
    don’t change their minds on six major issues over the course of 2-3
    years. Especially when little new information has emerged on most of
    these issues. It frustrates me when normally well informed Democrats
    totally buy that these are her real positions. To me it is incredibly
    clear that she is just moving to the left in the primary, as nearly
    every politician does, and will move to the right again when/if she
    wins. It’s an old political trick.

    I truly believe that Bernie is
    also more electable. Polls are not super reliable this far out from
    election day, that is true, but Bernie has been out performing Hillary
    in every general election match up that has been polled. There are no
    polls that show Hillary doing better than Bernie, so I see no evidence
    to support Hillary’s electability argument. On the contrary, she has the
    highest unfavorability ratings of any 2016 candidate aside from Trump.
    Given how well known she is, that is very unlikely to change.

    I am still an economic centrist, but I can deal with disagreements with
    Bernie Sanders. He is an honest man and has many great qualities that
    more than make up for where we disagree.