Why do I support Bernie Sanders for president?
On a broader scale, because it’s time we started doing the right thing. At a personal level, because I see in his positions the approaches I believe represent the foundation of my religion, Christianity.
Allow me to look at a few of my reasons for supporting Bernie Sanders. By the way, his Web site gives his positions on a large number of issues. Find them at https://berniesanders.com/issues/.
I’m lumping together several broad topics here. The problems vary tremendously, but they have one common tap root.
Not everyone in this country gets a fair shake.
Because they are born with darker skin, female or with a disability, because their religion is different from the majority, because their sexual orientation is in the minority … and often, for these reasons alone … they suffer second-class status.
They are more likely to be arrested for minor offenses and face crippling fees as a result. They are more likely to be killed by police or while in police custody. They are paid less to do the same work as others. Because the majority of the population doesn’t understand them, they are pushed to the back.
I have been fortunate enough to pursue a desire to travel more broadly than the average person – nowhere near the top, mind you, just more than average – and there is one thing I’ve seen around the country and around the world: People are people.
We all have dreams and desires, for ourselves and for our children. Most of us long for respect, love, friendship, an opportunity to be productive, a degree of comfort, food, good health and so on.
Contrary to what many people say, simply being willing to work isn’t always enough to get one out of poverty. There are too many deeply entrenched obstacles. Some make it, of course, but the odds are stacked against many and for reasons beyond their control.
Distribution of wealth
You’ve heard Bernie’s lines about this. A tiny fraction of the wealthiest individuals controls almost all of the wealth and it’s only gotten worse over the past few decades.
It’s a rigged system, he likes to say. I cannot claim to understand how they’ve managed it, but it’s clear those ultra-wealthy individuals cannot accumulate so much without some unfair advantage. And the most easily accomplished edge is by taking advantage of workers.
I watched such greed pretty much kill quality small daily newspapers as corporate ownership took over from individual publishers, slashed employees and held back wages … all to feed the upper management of the corporation.
I don’t know if Bernie Sanders’ $15 an hour minimum wage is the perfect answer, but it’s likely a good place to start working toward. Getting a little more money into the hands of people who need it and who will likely spend a good portion of it is a good thing.
But the biggie comes with raising taxes on those who make far more than everyone else.
It would pain me to say that someone who makes more than X amount of dollars should be forced to part with more of it than other people, but then I remind myself of two things. One, most of them took advantage of other people, the environment and/or tax loopholes in order to amass that wealth. Two, other human beings should not suffer just so the super wealthy can live comfortably atop their secured castles.
You see, a billionaire in a 52 percent tax bracket is still a very rich person, much richer than someone laboring for $15 or even $30 an hour. Again, we’re back with the Christian principles of helping other people.
Knocking on wood, it almost seems like arguments have subsided that climate change is not real. I hope that’s true. Even if it is, there is still a dramatic push to continue mining and burning fossil fuels.
Why should we throw away our future in order to cling to practices that are killing us rather than funneling all available effort into clean and proven technologies? We’re not going to get off oil in a day, but we must start now.
I grew up in the middle of an oil field. It was what drove our economy. Our high school mascot was Roughnecks. I worked my first summer out of high school as a roustabout. Many of my high school friends worked there and a lot of them still do. One, in fact, is now a billionaire due to hard work, smart decisions and petroleum risks that went his way.
However, none of that means we should blithely continue digging and pumping carbon-based fuels from under the earth and then burning them to deposit residue in the atmosphere, not to mention further lining the pockets of the ultra-rich.
When populations were smaller, when life was simpler, we could see no damage to such actions, but now we know better. Plus, we have options and they are steadily improving. Finally, developing green energy creates jobs to replace those being lost in the oil field. It’s time we owned up to what mankind is doing to the planet God gave us to take care of.
War and peace
I have heard it insinuated by some that Sen. Sanders would be too weak to protect the country. I suppose such opinions are based on hearing him speak of pursuing peace before war. He talks about using our weight as the world’s strongest country to resolve problems without warfare, without sending our troops overseas.
However, he has voted to support action against terrorists and names that as one of his primary missions today. And I appreciate the fact he talks about them as either international terrorist networks or “lone wolf” extremists here at home. Both are threats.
While he talks about maintaining a ready military, he says we need to pull it from the past into the present and the future. How many times have you read about millions being spent on aircraft or ships that our military leaders don’t want but Congress places the orders anyway? It’s not because our senators and representatives know more about what the generals and admirals need … it’s because money talks.
So, yeah, I feel the teachings of Christ are that we should desire peace first.
One of Bernie’s most talked about ideas is health care for all.
My wife and I enjoyed a cruise last fall and for more than three weeks, we had dinner each night with three other couples. One pair were proud Canadians and he, more than once, had to say how difficult it was to believe Americans did not yet have universal health care. They love what they have now.
While I understand Sen. Sanders’ plan is paid for with higher taxes – principally on those who earn a quarter-million dollars a year or more – I cannot help but think about the savings, beginning with insurance policies and deductibles.
Think about what is saved because someone gets treatment before the problem blossoms into something worse. Consider the saved days of work. Better than that, think about the money that is saved due to checkups. It was just such a standard checkup four-plus years ago that led to discovering a tumor in my bladder. Since it was caught early, two surgeries saw that it was removed before it could spread and become unmanageable.
What about the huge savings in time and money just in handling insurance claims? Even more so, imagine the savings of headaches arguing with the insurance company about what is covered.
And then there is the cost of prescription drugs.
Tending to the weak and the ill is a cornerstone or my religion, so I’m behind social programs to help people lead healthy and productive lives.
And then …
To me, it comes down to doing the right thing. Treat others as we wish to be treated. Allow folks to worship as they desire. We don’t throw out people because of their religion. We do what we can to protect our heritage as an immigrant country with fair and humane treatment of those seeking a better life.
We need to decriminalize most drugs and concentrate instead on helping addicts. And it appears obvious that marijuana should be totally removed as a controlled substance. How many citizens have lost their freedom, their rights and the ability to support their families because of a substance that is less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol?
Free college is another plank of his platform that has received a lot of attention. Extending free education another four years would be great, but we at least need to get the cost under control. Young adults now graduate college buried in debt and that’s neither fair nor productive.
Our nation’s infrastructure is in dire need of attention and tending to it is a great source of jobs. Remember the Civilian Conservation Corps?
The other candidates
I’m not sure when was the last time I voted in a Democratic primary. More than 25 years ago, Texas was almost entirely Democrat at the local levels, but everything shifted.
In 1992, at a time I was not working in newspapers, I got somewhat involved with the Republican Party and was even selected an alternate delegate to the state convention. The party has changed, though, but I’ve probably changed more. Now, there is not a single Republican candidate for president I could support.
Because I cannot align myself with turning our backs on war refugees. I cannot see building a wall as if it would solve immigration issues. While I am a Christian, I feel it is imperative that our government not be tied to any religion, even mine.
I turned 18 as the Vietnam War wound down and was not drafted and did not volunteer for the service. However, from the safety of home, I have seen our country too easily drawn into wars and military actions that have cost too many lives – our personnel, enemy fighters and way too many civilians.
Lastly, the GOP has shown little care for the oppressed people in our country. Much of the time, they’re only looking out for themselves. I must interject, however, that there are many people blindly following the party who are themselves being injured by the Republican principles, but they trudge on even while their standard of living steadily declines.
Right now, however, we’re just kicking off the primaries, so what about Hillary Clinton?
On many issues, she sides with Bernie Sanders or appears to, but I have noticed she’s only gone over on some the past few months as his positions have gained popularity. And that’s part of my problem with her.
She is the consummate politician and not a leader like we need now. She lacks the conviction Bernie has.
Worse, I’m afraid a Clinton administration would be the same old thing. Big money will continue to shout down the voice of the people and the middle class will continue to meld into an expanding lower economic class as the wealthiest of the wealthy acquire greater power and, of course, more money.
Granted, I look forward to electing a woman to the White House, but I think we can do better than Hillary Clinton and, most importantly, Bernie Sanders is a better choice right now. Plus, I think there’s a good chance we’ll see him with a female running mate.
So, yes, for the first time in my life, I’m actively supporting a candidate. I encourage you to vote for Bernie Sanders.