Why I’m Voting for Bernie Sanders Today

Inevitably, elections in America devolve into a Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots-level slugfest as they winnow to two candidates. It’s difficult for anyone to run for themselves and not against the only other person they’re competing with. Supporters of the candidate on either side find themselves becoming more and more polarized, even while having immense mountains of shared positions. Then we find ourselves embroiled in something almost ugly, this welling of animal feeling. Elections are not a principled debates, with starched collars and pince-nez, and forthright expressions. Elections are the inscrutable nighttime flashings of a deadly, phosphorescing bacteria, trying to reach a quorum. And, in truth, the universe at our scale is ruled by these slight differences, in which agglomerations of identical nucleons are held together or driven apart by having one more or one fewer electron.

I am voting, as corny as it sounds, in solidarity, for holding together. Social Security has been one of the great achievements in American history. Its success in reducing poverty among the elderly has also tied together generations in a ladder of support, and is one of the shining symbols that we, as a people, don’t intend to grind our fellow human down to the last lifeless husk. And Social Security, despite decades of faux-concern, and despite several near-disastrous attempts to “reform” it, remains strong and supportable for decades more, probably forever. Everyone benefits directly from Social Security, though some need it less. What makes it popular, however, is that it is universal. All social programs should be universal, or they will be, either quickly, or slowly destroyed. I’m voting for the candidate who supports universal programs.

You might say that it is impossible to make grand programs now. We saw how bruising getting a tepid but needed healthcare reform passed was. We need an incremental approach. Campaigns are not a debate. Anyone who remembers 2008 will remember that Obama campaigned on having no healthcare mandate, an impossible position. This was one of a collection of views and statements that set Obama off as a candidate of change, who would change the status quo, not maintain it. This is what got Obama nominated, and elected. As a society, we had determined there was a need to change.

Things continue to need to be changed. Only by supporting the candidate of change, will things change. When the compromises imposed by our form of government happen, and when the back and forth between competing interest groups, and centers of power decide what and when and how to implement, I want the starting principles to be a collection of principles that I believe in, not a collection of carefully targeted positions that mostly hew to the reigning conventional wisdom.

It would be bad for a Republican to win. But a Republican will not win. So, given that, it is bad for a Democrat to win and miss this opportunity to unite us, and not to divide us. As a country, and as a world, we are entering a critical generation which will decide whether the fate of life on earth is merely bad, or truly apocalyptic. With my small primary vote, I am telling the rest of you bacteria, I’m hoping we struggle, together, as one, in solidarity.