How I got over my political disillusionment and decided to support Bernie Sanders
As a millennial, I’ve become pretty accustomed to a general feeling of disillusionment with the current world. Unfortunately, this ideological anchor has created an epidemic of apathy and inaction in our generation. We face a brave new world of global interconnectedness and scientific enlightenment as to mankind’s impact on the planet; we are wholly discouraged. It should be humbling to each of us that we are lucky enough to be living in the United States of America, where uncommon freedoms have allowed us to pursue our dreams with unprecedented success rates. Each successive generation strives to make life better for their children and Americans have been succeeding in the last few generations.
My grandparents’ generation were largely farmers and mill workers. Their unending sacrifices allowed my parents’ generation to be sprinkled with kids that went off to college and grad schools. This generation was raised with a yeomen work ethic but educational empowerment. Their path to success became the revered paradigm for my generation. Educational institutions boomed as the idea that ‘paying for an education was the best investment you could make’ became engrained in our psyche. As consumer products became largely mass produced and mass distributed, a large portion of the young people that would have learned a trade or craft were instead funneled into higher levels of education to get higher paying jobs. The result was a glut of questionably financed higher education. This led to an overall dilution of educational achievements. Basic office jobs that used to be filled by high school graduates now require a four year degree. Millennials were initially excited to change the world, but had never been properly grounded in it in the first place. We found out that the world only needs so many lawyers, business administrators and sociologists. The generation taught to follow their dreams is having a difficult time swallowing reality.
Student debt is an economic epidemic in this country. Millions of people are settling in to lower paying jobs than they expected and have agreed to pay the price of a house without getting the house. This situation is difficult enough to stomach, but it is exacerbated by the reality that shady capitalism has funneled all the money to the top few people and all the systems are designed to let them keep it. The Supreme Court signed away the US political system with Citizens United. To many, it validated the already widely accepted view that voting was useless because the government belongs to special interests.
Today’s technologically driven media has combined with partisan politics to bring about the demise of reliable journalism and soured the entire country on the process as a whole. Industries have been built on 24 hour coverage of political minutiae and over analysis. Turns out polarizing sound bites are good for ratings and political careers, but it has eroded our faith in governmental institutions. Too many people believe that they are destined to live in a nation that is not representative of their views because they can’t afford it.
There are a lot of things to get disillusioned about and overhauling a system that was designed to hold a certain small class of people in power for perpetuity seems a daunting task. But we have to remember that we are a democracy and even though the playing field isn’t level, a true democratic effort on a grass roots level across the country can empower the positive changes we have to make as a nation. For many, the maps were drawn to disenfranchise you, but they’re based on historical voter turnouts. If millennials can organize on a local level to raise voter turnout far above past levels, then our voice can still be heard above the bureaucratic mutes. It is the only chance we have to change the systems and it has to happen right now.
We live in the most dynamic time in human history and it is bringing wholly new challenges to the fore. We have the science to comprehend the scale of manmade effects on the planet. We desperately need more investment in research and technology development towards lessening mankind’s impact on our shared home. We are the last generation that will have a meaningful shot at stemming the environmental effects of humanity and putting us on a course towards sustainability. In a nation that spends most of its money on war, soon humanity will face the greatest common enemy it has ever imagined and bullets aren’t going to help. We will have to endeavor as a nation to move away from our consumer capitalism ideal of infinite growth and set our sights on sustainability. We have the capacity to be international leaders in this effort, but it requires reprioritization and investment now.
We will be undertaking this transformation in the first real period of global interconnectedness. The implications of technology on humanity will be transformative and we need a government that recognizes that and starts to plan for it. The refugee crises in Europe has proven that we are dealing with humanity on a global scale now. Once everyone is connected by communication channels, it is all fluid dynamics with wealth disparity acting as pressure. People will migrate to areas where they have a chance at better lives for their families. It is the most basic and infallible instinct we have.
Understanding the current reality, means we need to shift our policies to accommodate these changes. We must engage in immigration reform with a cognizance that walls and Orwellian monitoring are not the path to a world in which we want to live. Instead we need to empower would be refugees to stay in their homes and live healthy lives. We must always maintain a technological and tactical edge in our military, but the United States should be the greatest humanitarian innovator in the world. Rather than policing the world, we have to focus on righting our own ship and then change the world through innovation rather than imperialism. It is time for a new New Deal and a reinvestment in our nation. We can and should be world leaders, but it is time to lead by example rather than at gun point.
We are facing challenges that have never been seen or fully contemplated. We live in the fastest changing time in human history and it is only accelerating. The change that is called for now rivals any revolution of collective thinking that has ever occurred. We have to create new systems and write new rules, but the transformation has to start with the systems we have in place. Our political system has been manipulated and it is an uphill battle to change it, but the first step is truly engaging on behalf of a candidate that shares our vision on the issues that really matter.
Bernie Sanders is the first presidential candidate that has recognized and vowed to address the deep-seated inequities in our society. He sees that wealth disparity is the root cause of many of our nation’s ills. He is unafraid to say that healthcare is a right and the only way to make it affordable and accessible for everyone is through a single-payer healthcare system. He recognizes that industries built on tricking people out of their money have no place in our society. Sanders is the first presidential candidate to assert that money has no place in representative democracy, despite the current system.
Many people in this nation never started or quit participating in the political system because the cards are stacked against them. Finally, there is a candidate willing to say ‘yeah, the cards are stacked against you, but not to the extent that we can’t change it.’ He needs our help. The system in place is powerful and it will put all its desperate might in maintaining the status quo. What Bernie Sanders is saying can work, but it will take unprecedented participation by those who feel they have no voice. He needs the disillusioned, the disenfranchised, the doubters. Without record turnout from underrepresented demographics, the United States government will never be representative of its citizenry. It is easy to say the system is too broken and sit the process out, but we finally have a candidate that sees it and wants to fix it. It’s up to us to get him elected.