The Pro Life Argument for Sanders, and Why Republicans Hold the Fate of the World in Their Hands

Dear Republican Friends,

I know this has been a tough primary season for you. You remaining reasonable, educated and self-respecting conservatives have in recent months watched as your party bickered, backstabbed, and demoted itself to middle school maturity levels, then landed somewhere between reality show and soap opera. As a formerly-Republican Libertarian from conservative Christian stock, I maintain a friendly (though critical) relationship with your party, and I feel for you. Though I have opposed decisions made by the GOP over these recent years which (I feel) led to this implosion, none of these are your fault, and I know it has left many of you searching in a way that is unduly painful.

Whatever happens after this election, I encourage you to give the Libertarian party a glance(https://www.lp.org/introduction/faq). You may find the reasons many of us left the GOP are important to you too, like real plans for how to enact a small government model, and a stance on religious freedom that is more sustainable than what has been promoted by the Religious Right. However, right now we are facing an election between two of the most dangerous political candidates America has ever had: Donald Trump, a mediocre businessman/reality-TV star with corresponding lack of dignity and sound judgment, and Hillary Clinton, whose history of corruption and incompetence is rivaled only by her husband’s appetite for sexual assault, none of which have ever brought them any consequences. As you read this, the Clinton duo actually seems to be in process of stealing the Democratic nomination through election fraud/voter suppression, in case you needed any other examples of how dangerously above the law they would be in office. As reason-lovers across the world grieve our lack of viable choice, people across parties are asking the same questions: What party am I best represented by? Is there truly a lesser of two evils here? When it comes down to it, am I more of an idealist or a pragmatic voter?

That last distinction is very important. Most people do not realize that the question of “Why do you vote?” is at the root of many “political” or “moral” disagreements, especially within parties. As everyone tries to do right by their conscience, there are at least two basic paths within ethics and theology: 1) The Idealist, who feels that their vote should represent their actual beliefs, ie,what they would do if they were elected, and 2) The Pragmatist, focused more on leveraging their vote to produce the best possible outcome, no matter how different than their preference.

Idealists are primarily concerned with making a statement to the world about what they believe is right and wrong. That doesn’t mean they don’t have pragmatic goals; most idealists would love if everyone agreed with them, so they could achieve said goals. They are often active recruiters for idealist voting. But for an idealist, the outcome is less important than having their beliefs represented as closely as possible. In an election like this one, idealists are likely to sit out. Pragmatists, on the other hand, are more concerned with the consequences of a vote than what it symbolizes. Their interest in politics accounts for ins and outs of party leverage, character and motivation of political players, and other forces converging towards the best outcome for the highest number of people. Being a pragmatist doesn’t mean you lack clear convictions, just that you feel differently about your agency in making this happen, and generally tolerate more incremental routes to change.

This is a simplistic description, and I am by no means trying to describe every kind of voter. But this distinction is important this year, because more than in any election I can remember, the outcome will be decided by a small swing group of voters: Republican pragmatists. If you are an idealist voter and already know there is no candidate who represents you, then this post isn’t for you, though you have my respect. It takes all types to make change. BUT - if you are a pragmatist stumped over how your vote can create the least amount of damage — maybe even help things - I am here to make sure you are aware that no matter how much the media has been predicting a Trump-Clinton general election for months, there is still a THIRD, better option…and his name is Bernie Sanders.

If you just heard a chorus of Fox News pundits in your head, shrieking about “socialism,” then take a deep breath and hear me out. People have wildly varying ideas about this man and there is a staggering amount of misinformation out there, which says little except how much our mainstream media AND our education curriculum are in need of reform. Technically, the term for Bernie’s political affiliation is “social democrat,” often substituted with the term “democratic socialist” or even “socialist” for short. (I am near certain this is to mess with people who are too lazy to look up what these terms actually mean.) A good introduction to Bernie’s politics is here http://www.publicseminar.org/2016/02/bernie-sanders-democratic-socialist-a-primer/, though you must be careful to not let any use of the terms “social” and “welfare” set off your right-wing “personal responsibility” alarms; things are not always as they sound. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to explain all of Sanders’ political philosophy in detail here; social democracies are the most advanced and complex form of government we have, and as such deserve an even more in-depth analysis than what I can write in this forum, which is already longer than what most of you are used to in our Tweet-and-clickbait era. However, I would like to clarify a few major things in hopes you do your own research, and will expand your consideration that Sanders is our best option for President in 2016. And if you and all your friends vote for him, he could actually win.

As I said earlier, I believe small government to be the best political structure longterm, something that Libertarians and Republicans have long agreed on. However, the difference between our two parties is that Republicans have largely rejected any sensible steps to move towards this goal, usually because of their focus on winning elections. To be fair, this has been easy to do, because at this point in history, a true small government model is nearly impossible to execute. In a shift away from our individualist roots, the United States is now part of a global economy, (and happens to be one of the most important players), meaning that to successfully transition away from a federalized economy and towards small, truly free market local ones, we would need to abolish the Federal Reserve, pay off our debt, strengthen our currency, change thousands of relationships with other countries, and then take on the massive task of decentralizing without hurting ourselves or the world…all of which could take 50–75 years. There were also good national security reasons behind our initial ballooning, and as we are still in tumultuous times, now does not seem like the time to jeopardize the structure of our entire social democracy.

That’s right, I said “social democracy,” because no matter how much one may prefer to call us a Republic, we actually already function as the type of government that Bernie Sanders believes in. Government distinctions are often an issue of semantics, as there are many ways to do the same thing and call it something else. As confirmed by our *Social* Security cards, we are ALREADY a democratically-based government leveraging tax collection towards a cohesive structure, then directing profits from a national economy to benefit those who use it. With 50+ social programs in the US, most of which work very well and which the Republicans don’t mind, by any definition we are the same type of government as Norway, Sweden, or any other social democracy. However, our system has some flaws which most of the more successful ones do not. One need only look at the data on the best countries for business , the world’s healthiest democracies , the best school systems, lowest healthcare costs, and the highest quality of life (http://www.oecd.org/about/) to note that the US is an abysmal 10th to 20th on all these lists, with nearly every single country ahead of us a more formalized social democracy.

The differences between these countries are vast, as they are highly unique systems combining everything we know from history into their own dynamic, flexible, and functional governments. Cultural values, geographic location, natural resources, political alliances, media influence, and every facet of the tax structure contribute to their success or failure, making it hard to draw comparisons between them. However, the more successful models all have one thing in common that the US does not, and that is fundamentally less wealth inequality resulting from advanced, efficient, and ethical tax structures.

In the United States, we have an extremely complex and clunky tax structure, developed by a hodge podge of wealthy CEO’s, bankers, and politicians funding their own political candidates and legislation over the last few decades. Our tax code is a bizarre hackjob of unethical loopholes and questionable investment allowances, giving major players in oil, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, media, and other transnational industries the ability to suppress competition and benefit disproportionately from the system, not only paying less tax on their usage, but receiving legal protection from financial crimes, thus maintaining a monopoly on opportunities. Most people do not realize that, contrary to the Republican vision of a society where hard work, responsibility, and freedom are the only determinants of success, the system we currently have does not even provide all citizens equal opportunity to use it, much less succeed…and that’s especially egregious given that we ALL pay taxes to uphold it. Through a myriad of disproportionate benefits, our elite class leeches so many resources from the economy that our system can no longer be most accurately described as a republic, or even a social democracy, but rather a corporate socialist state.

In what has become a drastically imbalanced system, the majority of our country’s money is now held by just 400 individuals (http://www.ips-dc.org/billionaire-bonanza/), the same 400 who have collected so much of our resources that we are teetering on the edge of another recession, far worse than what we’ve experienced in the last few decades. Enter Bernie Sanders who many years ago predicted that this would be the biggest problem facing modern societies, and fought to prevent it in his own country. After dedicating his life to this cause, which you can confirm by searching for all the Congressional hearing videos from the last 30 years in which he fought against dozens of corrupt tax changes, disastrous trade agreements, and legislation like Citizen’s United, last year Bernie finally felt it was time to take the issues to the people, along with solutions. Contrary to what you may have heard, Bernie is NOT proposing to take our corporate socialist state and turn it into a populace socialist state. Rather, he wants to remove our corporate socialist element altogether, then redirect the recovered resources to create more jobs and streamline government programs, to become LESS “social” and more “democracy” and return to the viable, manufacturing-and-production economy we had in our best years. Let me repeat that: Bernie Sanders is NOT proposing fundamental changes to the way our government runs. Rather, he is arguing for two strategic improvements to make our social democracy run more like those which use their tax revenue to serve the citizens far better.

These two major changes are single payer healthcare and a progressive tax structure, the later which would force illicit wealth gains back into the flow of our economy and pay off our debt to open up the country’s future. Bernie would NOT be raising taxes on the middle class to accomplish this goal, nor relying mostly on upper class taxes for all the money needed. Rather by weeding out corruption and incentivizing smarter spending, taxes we are already paying can be used for things like education, infrastructure, healthcare, and family medical leave, all investments in the workforce which would immediately turn around some profit. While I encourage you to study the data from around the world for yourself, suffice to say that single payer healthcare works far better than our totally private system (no how much people like to exaggerate the exceptions to that rule). Most people also misunderstand that single payer does not make the government the source of our healthcare. Rather, it leverages the collective tax power to negotiate pricing with independent providers, saving so much money on basic services that most people can afford to pay for private healthcare if needed (or raise money for it, like many of us do now). Free community college, a less sensational but mention-worthy part of Bernie’s plan, is likewise nothing revolutionary. We have had it in parts of the US before, and it would merely raise minimum education levels to match the “inflation” of the college degree, just as we once did for K-12 (and arguably need to compete in a global market).

Bernie’s tax plan may be a little harder for Republicans to swallow. As long as most of us have been alive, we have endured the endless argument between Republicans and Democrats over how much tax is “fair” or “proportionate;” ie, an argument over “flat” vs. “progressive” tax rates (which increase slightly exponentially into the higher income levels.) As noted earlier, it is important to remember that the context for these arguments has always been solving the drastic wealth inequality of the US, not necessarily the best tax rates longterm. An excellent discussion of healthy tax rates in other social democracies, as well as confusion with the terms “progressive” and “regressive,” can be found here: http://persistenceofpoverty.blogspot.com/2016/03/just-how-regressive-are-tax-systems-in.html, along with tons of additional reading if you want more background. However, the ethics of progressive taxing are still part of a bigger Republican-Democrat debate about what is the best longterm strategy for a healthy economy, ie whose spending is more important to keep an economy going: the supply side or the demand side.

So-called “Supply side economics,” which Republicans have been advocating for years, maintains that freeing up the spending power of businesses and healthy investors (who “supply” the economy with goods and services) is the longterm key to success. Along with the moral arguments about what is “fair,” supply side is defended by a theory called the Laffer curve, which maintains that there is a point at which taxing people and businesses becomes counterproductive because hinders their ability to produce. Proponents of supply side economics thus reason that as long as such agents are free to spend/invest, the market itself operates freely, and wealth, jobs, and opportunities “trickle down” adequately to the poor. Suppliers thus often argue that they should pay LESS than those who constitute the demand, so that their spending can remain uninhibited. Many Republican policies have been informed by this theory over the years, including the tax loopholes and other preferential treatment for our elite class which created most of the problems I described above.

Supply side is a relatively new economic theory, however, and one major problem with its credibility is that it has never been tested in a country of our size, in a truly free market, which would require removal of all federal regulation, subsidies, and much of the structure which makes us the country that we are. It is understandable that Republicans keep wanting to test it out; it corresponds perfectly with their core values of personal responsibility, independence, and enterprise. Unfortunately, as this honest Libertarian must tell you, trickle down ideas have proven a failure in just about every way in our current system. Though you will never hear this from the right wing politicians, start Googling “does trickle-down economics work” and you will find a variety of credible sources analyzing the data from the past century, mostly harsh criticisms. We have tried slashing tax rates many times throughout our history, from Warren Harding in 1922, to “Reaganomics” in the 80s, to the Bush Tax Cuts in 2001. Yet each of these experiments has created only a short term boost for our economy (whichhappens by shifting just about anything around), then inconveniently given rise to all the forces behind our major crashes, two of which resolved in the long run only by raising taxes again. Even when cutting taxes has seemed to work as a short term boost, it has only continued to widen the wealth inequality gap between those it helped and those it didnt. (http://useconomy.about.com/od/Politics/p/Trickle-Down-Economics-Does-It-Work.htm) And as a final nail in the coffin, in smaller, more controlled experiments (with less variables). such as when Kansas recently tried abolishing all its business taxes, reliance on the trickle down hope has only proved a devastating failure (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kansas-loses-patience-governor-sam-brownback-tax-cuts/).

Economics can be a frustrating science because isolating patterns is difficult with so many converging forces to track. However, the track record for supply-side theory remains weak, and it certainly does not seem the smart path for further experimentation when there are many more proven models from around the world. With nearly a century of data available in works like Thomas Piketty’s Capital, it seems obvious that supply-side theory is too simplistic to uphold a federal economy, for the following reasons:

  1. Though spending on both sides of the economy must be incentivized to keep things moving, what it takes to do this is different for supply and demand because their motivations for spending are not equivalent, and motivation is a greater factor in longterm spending than the tax burden. Wall Street godfather Asher Edelman explains in this video that there are more variables interfering with supply side motivations, whereas the demand is tied to the immovable forces of human need. It seems obvious which side should be our more protected “engine.” https://asheredelman.com/2016/04/18/wall-street-titan-asher-edelman-bernie-sanders/
  2. Flat tax rates do not take into account the true value of money in a system and thus are not “proportionate” or “fair.” This can be a difficult concept for anyone who has not managed large sums of money, but suffice to say, one cannot evaluate “fairness” without taking into account the different types of value that money has and viewing the economy as a giant, interconnected machine, where every user exponentially uses resources when they create exponential wealth. People who tout progressive taxing as “immoral” or “stealing” always falsely elevate the literal, quantitative value of money over its effective value, ie how far it will actually go in an economy, especially in investment value. Quantitative value is the easiest way to analyze money, but it is also reductive. The concept of inflation alone should make clear to the uninitiated that there are many more senses of “value” than just the numbers on currency, and thus there are also different values for wealth on different tiers within the system. Capitalistic markets are never based on the literal value of money or goods, but on their actual or effective value, ie what further wealth they can produce. Thus if tax rates honestly evaluated wealth, they would view every dollar that someone has over what it takes to meet their basic needs with a different type of value than those beneath it, as well as a different level of motivation/likelihood of spending (requiring different regulation.) In reality, the closest one can come to “fair” — at least from an economic standpoint — is to tax according to the value which our wealthiest folks use to make money: the actual, effective (investment) value of money in the system. In the end, when you think about it, that is the only true sense in which money has value at all.
  3. The Laffer theory itself notes that there is a point at which lowering taxes can no longer boost the economy/incentivize spending for those who do not have an urgent need to spend. Judging by the stagnation of America’s wealth over the last 40 years, it also seems obvious that we have danced around this point for years, and it is time to adjust our upper tax rates to reflect the more successful models from around the world.

My suggestions for Republicans who value hard work and a free market is to retain these values, but recognize for now that no matter how much we want to mimic a Libertarian, truly free market in our current system, federalized systems just need a certain amount of taxes to work, and until we (and the world) are ready to decentralize, it is better to focus on becoming a more streamlined, successful social democracy than to continue chasing the pipe dream of our clunky, crony capitalist, faux-free-market hybrid of an economy. As someone who holds the exact OPPOSITE philosophy from Bernie Sanders, it’s time that more of us stand up and say that no matter how many embarrassing pundits ignore the 100 years of proof that private ownership of the means of production is the ONLY thing necessary to prevent communism, the truth is that what Bernie Sanders wants to do for our economy is not dysfunctional, immoral, or dangerous: it is just one form of responsible economics, and while social democracies may not be perfect, they are the best thing we have so far.

But wait, why all this talk about economics? Wasn’t this post supposed to be about abortion? It is, after all, the topic which comes up more than anything else with conservatives thinking about voting Bernie in the primaries. While I wanted to take the “scare” factor out of the money stuff, Bernie’s economics are irrelevant to this election anyway. He won’t get most of it through Congress, and at 74, will serve only one term — just long enough to shake up our political establishment and hit the “re-set” button on our democracy. Let me say that again: BERNIE’S ECONOMICS ARE IRRELEVANT TO THIS ELECTION, so while I hope you understand the rationale behind them, the next time you hear someone going on an anti- “socialism” soapbox, give a Jim Halpert stare and move the conversation to the real issue of who will be the best figurehead for our Republican Congress. Bernie has the best character of the three (see below), so from a Republican standpoint, he’s already got a lot going for him…but what about his pro-abortion stances? Or that he might be President during the appointment of a new Supreme Court judge (or three)? The question I get more than any other is: can you be a real pro-life advocate and vote for Bernie Sanders?

Let me say first that I am no fan of abortion, and wish it was a simple issue that we could all just agree to make illegal. However, I am old enough now to have perspective on the 30 year+ fight over this issue, led by the so-called Religious Right, and what it has done for our country (and the Christian reputation around the world.) I know how hard it can be to separate your understanding of morality from popular opinion about how this “should” integrate with our politics, and it is even harder to apply reason to a very emotional issue. In doing so, however, I have come to feel that abortion has become more an issue of conformance than of true conviction for a large portion of Republican and religious communities. Such cheapening of a sacred issue has resulted in both a stigmatization and oversimplification that is only working against the cause.

Let me provide some background. Early in my career, I spent multiple years working in a residential home for women with unplanned pregnancies, providing alternatives to abortion in free medical care and adoption services. I learned a lot from these women, some of whom had come from horrific situations like sex trafficking or rape, but most of which were regular girls who had just made mistakes out of brokenness and ignorance. Most of them were terrified, poor, emotionally unstable, and in no way prepared to provide for the child they were carrying. I quickly learned that the stereotype of the selfish, promiscuous party girl who wants an abortion just so that she doesn’t have to change her lifestyle was just that — a stereotype. The vast majority of the women I met were not thinking about themselves when they waffled back and forth over the idea of an abortion. Most thought long and hard about the child, and the statistical reality that a vast majority of children born into such circumstances go on to become criminals or drug addicts, living lives of unnecessary misery and suffering. They saw themselves, as a mother, holding the responsibility to protect their child from as much pain as possible…particular weighty coming from the victims of trauma and abuse. For such women, abortion seemed a supremely loving act, a protection of innocence, and ironically, those who believed that all innocent unborn life goes to be with God were even more inclined this way. It occurred to me that a large portion of the time, the Christian sin beneath abortion is not best classified as murder, which the Bible says is based in hate. Rather, it’s a lot more like pride, or presumption, the positioning of oneself in the place of God to decide the fate of another human being, rather than surrendering to His plan.

I realized then what a truly, uniquely Christian value a stance of “surrender” is, contrasted with an emphasis on human agency found in nearly every other philosophy or religion. It occurred to me how alienating, inaccurate, and ineffective the longstanding right-wing rhetoric of “Abortion = Murder” is towards those who simply do not possess the supernatural faith that could view God as primary guardian of their child’s fate, rather than themselves. For Christians to “appear reasonable to all men,” it no longer seemed the ONLY logical thing to pressure a secular (federal) government to enact policies whose entire rational basis required a certain religious faith…particularly as other religions surge toward the world majority, and could one day expect a similar influence over policy.

By then I had also learned that abortion access was a minor factor for the women who came to our house, or didn’t. The majority were aware of many “homemade,” herbal, or otherwise unclinical ways to induce abortion, most less expensive and less traumatizing than invasive medical procedures. The internet was just taking off then, meaning that what was once the knowledge of exceptionally street-savvy girls was spreading like wildfire. There was speculation within our field that non-clinic abortions might become the way of the future.

This premonition seems confirmed in recent data, where Google search results confirmed drastic increases in searches for things like “how to self abort,” especially in areas where abortion clinics had been shut down. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/06/opinion/sunday/the-return-of-the-diy-abortion.html?_r=0. As with gun laws or drug laws, while there is some value in drawing clear lines about morality, we already know that making laws against bad behavior is not the most effective way to stop something, Looking pragmatically at abortion, I began to see more than one way to approach the problem. Though many have been helped by the crisis pregnancy organizations opened as a result of the abortion debate, and perhaps even personally challenged by the debate itself, such alternatives can (and should) exist separate from a multi-million dollar fight over legislation. The number of lives actually saved by all the political hostility seems to remain few. In a world growing less religious every day, where a majority in the country are already pro-abortion (or at least pro-not-legislating-religious-principles), I have found very few Republicans who could tell me what we were hoping to accomplish in maintaining pressure not just on our government, but on each other — to make abortion the “one issue” to define voting and politics for all conservatives. Even if abortion came to be prohibited through some miracle of a Republican Congress + Republican President (which we have had before, but didn’t accomplish), would it “stick” for very long? Would that time period justify the years it took to get there, decades of gridlocked argument pulling resources that might have prevented so many other innocent deaths in needless wars, gang violence and abject poverty? Conservatives in other countries seem to share my doubts. Abortion is only illegal in a handful of countries these days, and most other governments have moved on. Global conservatives no longer base their entire vote on it. Yet virtually all these countries have lower abortion rates than we do, probably partially because they have poured their efforts into advocacy and adoption services, which have a far more proven efficacy than partisan stalemating. More and more American conservatives I know have confessed to voting Democrat or Independent in spite of their pro life stance, because after the years of trying the traditional right wing strategy, they had come to see more potential for helping the country in focusing on other steps forward. Yet I have found that these individuals feel the need to keep this secret for fear of being ostracized or even harassed at church or family gatherings! What surely started as a movement of conviction seems to have devolved into a bit of a herd mentality, where sincere, thoroughly conservative people get bullied and proof-texted simply for taking a different path of conviction. If my story is any indication, I can testify that my own voting for years came about as much from a desire to fit in as it did from thinking critically about the issue, or an earnest search before God….and this needs to stop. For the health of both the church and the country, it is time for conservatives who are not “one-issue voters” to come out of hiding, and stop arguing over the “most” logical extension of biblical principles, when logic is a fallen human function and there are multiple ways to pursue the same goal. According to Christian doctrine, God cares more about the heart — ie, using your brain to work out a personal conviction — than man-made party lines, and it is time Republicans and conservatives make room for a wider variety of convictions on this topic…maybe beginning with allowing yourself some space to think about voting in this election.

Personally, my years in anti-abortion work led me to a very different conclusion as to how to best fight the loss of innocent unborn life, and that is the only reason I share this journey with you. Statistics have shown that besides our volunteer work and providing homes for unwed mothers, there is something profoundly effective at reducing abortions, with a lot of potential for bipartisan support, and that is the economy. Setting aside arguments over what role government should play in regulating an economy, there are many moral reasons to consider the topic worthy of a “one issue” vote, because a stable and prosperous economy is the number one factor in violent crime levels, education quality, and yes, unplanned pregnancies. Plenty of data confirms what we have known anecdotally for years, that nearly 70 percent of abortions are for women who make 200 percent or less of the federal poverty line, (http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2015/03/02/poor_women_have_more_abortions_even_though_middle_class_women_abort_more.html). It makes sense, because lower income and education results in lower life goals, meaning less motivation to use abstinence or contraception to reach them. For most women in poverty, raising children is the one of the few attainable things giving purpose to life, and they are thus 5x more likely to view pregnancy as an inevitability rather than plan it for when they might actually keep it. Increases in education quality and decreased crime levels, which always correspond with economic growth, ALSO reduce abortion and promote healthy life goals, creating a positive cycle explaining the rest of why the European and Scandinavian social democracies, which trounce us in all the other evaluations I linked, also have lower abortion rates by 20–35%! http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/abortion-around-the-world-where-are-rates-highest/8/ That’s 244, 721 innocent babies saved per year, if we’re going by 2012’s statistics for abortions in the US….

So I went into some detail about Bernie’s economic goals because — if that number is significant to you, and you are looking for a practical way to make your vote count, it is absolutely possible to be pro-life and believe that Bernie would be the best for protecting it, because even WITHOUT passing his more controversial stances, he would unquestionably be the best candidate for our economy. While Trump and Clinton both have issues in their character, spending plans, and global reputation that will negatively impact our system (explored more below) Bernie would tackle a number of profitable things that have had bipartisan support for years, but lacked an effective leader to spearhead. Closing tax loopholes and working on our infrastructure alone will funnel billions back into our economy, creating millions of jobs. As detailed below, Bernie is also the only candidate setting the stage for future candidates — Republican or Democrat — to unify the country around appropriate adjustments to the minimum wage, more efficient tax structures, and everything else it will take to get us out of debt and back on our feet.

After years of wrestling through the issue, I admit I am no longer a one issue voter. But even if I was, I would still vote Sanders, because in an election where neither of the other candidates will do a thing about abortion (or if it happens, it will be because of Congress, in spite of them), the rest of data, history and practical wisdom point to Sanders as the one to preserve the most lives of all kinds during our next four years. Bernie also believes so strongly in democracy, meaning that everyone should a voice (even Republicans) that I would have more faith in his Supreme Court nominees to reflect a variety of positions than I would Clinton’s or lifelong-liberal Trump’s. At the very least, they won’t be worse.

With Ted Cruz’ drop from the race, this 2016 election has taken a dramatic and ironic turn. The foregone conclusion of a Trump-Clinton presidential race is decidedly uncertain now, thanks to the very Republicans disenfranchised by Trump’s takeover of the Republican party. You — yes YOU, and all your friends — have the sole power to choose the next President of the United States….not to mention, bring justice to a horrifying situation in our democracy, as Hillary Clinton has for four months been stealing the Democratic nomination out from under the people’s choice, Bernie Sanders. Funded entirely by small donations, with almost zero media coverage until halfway through the primary, the love and motivation of millions of people took Bernie from a no-name senator to breaking multiple Presidential primary records. The Democrat establishment, however, has continued to spin false media stories, downplay Bernie’s wins, and use all of its power to ensure Clinton is the nominee. Hundreds of thousands of Sanders’ voters have been purged from the rolls in every state, with an equal number of mysteriously changed registrations and other forms of voter disenfranchisement. Hillary-supporting poll workers have been caught trying to throw away Bernie ballots, changing rules last minute to disqualify Bernie delegates, or giving false registry information at caucuses. And all the audited voter machines in Chicago (which Bernie mysteriously lost) were found to have been “adjusted” to give extra votes to Clinton (See a detailed history of election fraud allegations at http://leecamp.net/), explaining why the unadjusted exit polls have been off by as much in 10% in favor of Clinton in her wins. As evidenced by the horrifying portrait of a dictatorship in what happened just this weekend at the Nevada Convention (Original play by play here https://www.reddit.com/r/SandersForPresident/comments/4jid77/basic_stepbystep_of_what_went_down_yesterday_at, or short video here: https://www.facebook.com/phillee.nytelife.3/videos/1777300269166468/ ) it is clear that Hillary Clinton is not just taking this election for herself, but setting up a system to prevent the people from ever rising up and voting in an Independent candidate again, a truly scary reality.

This could be made right if the #NeverTrump #Never Hillary Republicans were to rally behind Bernie in New Jersey, North and South Dakota, Montana, and Washington DC, and California, the remaining states where you can still switch parties or register to vote in the primaries. Such an overwhelming number of swing votes would be the one thing the Clinton machine could probably not compensate for, and if Bernie wins even one more pledged delegate than Hillary Clinton by the end of the June 7 primaries, he could take the nomination at the contested convention, since he already beats her against Trump by double digits. As I said, barring other crazy developments, you remaining Republican voters now hold the fate of the entire world in your hands.

What will you choose? I don’t expect anyone to make such a difficult decision overnight, and it may be impossible for some of you in the few days you have before your registration date passes. I do not advocate making a decision you do not feel well informed about. However, I have tried to at least lay out the case for why at the very least, Bernie’s stances on economics or abortion should not keep you from voting for him, and you can now make your own decision based on the list below, which I feel are the BEST reasons to support him, as borrowed from my friend Chris’ recent post on the topic. I hope you’ll consider taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime candidate, and join us in fighting to preserve what makes this country so great.

TOP 10 REASONS TO VOTE FOR BERNIE SANDERS IN THE PRIMARIES

1. He’s not Trump. For anyone who thinks Trump the greatest evil in this election, voting for Bernie in the primaries should be the obvious choice, since he is the only one guaranteed to beat Trump in the general. He has maintained outrageous leads against him since day one, and though he would take on more heat once Clinton is out of the race, this is the year for populism, and Bernie is the only candidate whose likability ratings continue to go up the more people know about him. There’s little reason to think those numbers wouldn’t hold. He would crush Trump. For those of you who would still prefer Trump to Bernie, please think hard about this choice. A Trump presidency will 100% result in 8–12 years of Democrat control following him in office. A Democrat president, however, would mean Paul Ryan or somebody super electable will be put up by the RNC and likely give Republican control for the same number of years. Something to think about.

2. He’s not Hillary. Even for those who would actually prefer Trump to Bernie, I hate to break it to you, but there is almost zero chance of us getting a Trump presidency. The RNC establishment has loved to publicly hate on the Clintons as long as you can remember, but believe it or not, most of them like her more than they like Trump. Hillary Clinton has Republican roots, and the Clinton’s entire strategy for world domination (you think I’m kidding) started with them moving the Democratic party a good bit to the right to appeal to more conservative Democrats and make ties with wealthy Republicans behind the scenes. They succeeded, and she now has connections that control our media (conservative, liberal or otherwise), AND the Board of Elections in most states. Our establishment is NOT as divided into right and left as our populace is; it is a strategy they use to maintain the status quo which, in case you haven’t noticed, serves their interests a lot more than ours. Hillary’s war record, bias towards protecting wealthy interests, and relatively conservative voting record on trade agreements and finance makes her the most Republican of the three candidates. She’s already been praised by both the Koch brothers and Henry Kissinger. She would be guaranteed to steal the presidency from Trump, probably with help from the RNC, because he is an embarrassment to our national reputation and as much a threat to the Republican establishment as the Democratic one. Unless Bernie wins the nomination (or decides to run third party, which he swears he won’t), we are looking at a Clinton presidency. And to me, this is by far a worse outcome than a Trump presidency. Trump is a narcissist of questionable intelligence, but he would be stonewalled by Congress and wouldn’t get a thing done anyway. He could maybe even get impeached in two years time. Barring the possibility of him accidentally starting World War 3 (unlikely because his foreign policy is better than Hillary’s), his worst crime would be the humiliation and implosion of the Republican party. And how much more can we really embarrass ourselves when at least on the Democrat side, we’ve shown our own democracy to be a sham?

Hillary on the other hand, is one half of the single most corrupt political family we’ve ever had. If you are unfamiliar, please scan Anonymous’ handy list of links to all the evil perpetuated by the Clintons, which will take you 5 minutes just to skim (Note: profanity warning) https://ghostbin.com/paste/fumkt. She and her husband are basically the equivalent of the left-wing mafia. They have a trail of mysterious deaths or murders of people close to them, including people they have had affairs with or who had information about their various scandals. Bill Clinton let a Chinese spy into the White House in exchange for money, and was basically responsible for the fact that China has a nuclear program. The Clinton’s have laundered millions of dollars into their pocket through their Clinton Foundation in exchange for weapons deals with our enemies, and all sorts of other quid pro quo type arrangements between friends, donors, other governments, political appointments, and “speaking fees.” They have a history of destroying evidence related to their crimes, some caught down the pants of aides, or in their house with their own fingerprints on them. They have friends who have gone to jail for refusing to reveal information about them, who they then pardoned before leaving the White House. Bill has a 30 YEAR track record of sexual assault — not just affairs, but rapes and sexual harassment and abuse of at least 20 known women, and probably many more. He is a sexual predator who was enabled and protected by the US government itself (read their friend David Brock’s account of the early years http://www.shwiggie.com/articles/clintons.html), not to mention Hillary, who has campaigned on women’s issues her entire life but destroyed the lives of all the women her husband victimized (see Juanita Broadrick’s recent, poignant tweet). Bill also has connections to pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who has refused to expose Bill’s role in his schemes. Hillary herself is a sociopath who would be impossible to predict when given ultimate power. There are audio tapes of her laughing about the guilt of a 12 yr old’s rapist, who she voluntarily defended as a political “favor” to jumpstart her legal career. (She got him off on a made-up “seductress” smear against the child). She campaigned for Goldwater (an ACTUAL political racist, not a sensationalist like Trump), and has not only not condemned this choice, but laughed about it as well. And most recently, there is a video of her laughing in an interview as she watches a video of Gaddafi getting murdered/sodomized with a bayonet…along with his son, who she had rubbed elbows with at the White House a week before.

But Hillary is not just evil, she would be a dangerous Commander-in-Chief in these volatile foreign times. She perpetuated extensive war crimes in Libya, working with terrorists on a politically convenient genocide. She covered up for Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Benghazi, revealed in the email scandal, where Hillary was also caught deleting several important emails turned in by Sidney Blumenthal (who wasn’t supposed to be on top secret communication at all), and also using an unsecured server and cell phone AFTER the FBI warned her multiple times (and she agreed under oath to, ya know, not do that). Both of these were proven to be hacked by spies, constituting one of our largest national security breaches ever. But will she go to prison? Probably not. Everyone who has to take the steps to put her there is a friend.

So we are talking about a sociopathic career criminal with a history of destroying evidence, disregarding human life, working with our enemies, endangering our national security, and being a reckless war hawk, who is completely above the law? Who controls virtually our entire media and electoral establishment? Along with her husband, a sexual predator who is increasingly losing his composure and saying embarrassing things in public? And people are worried about the .00000000000000000001% chance that we get socialized medicine (which will unquestionably work better than the disaster we have)?

That is the facts about our situation, but even if it wasn’t, here are other reasons Bernie is more deserving of a primary vote than 99% of politicians in my lifetime.

3. He is a man of integrity.

I know of few other politicians who can claim zero personal scandals during their tenure and a 30 year track record of saying the exact same thing, tirelessly fighting for their convictions…even if some of his convictions are different than mine. With a government so corrupt, we must start by rebuilding it one standard at a time, and integrity must be the foundation. Without that, we can get nowhere else, and there is only one candidate in this race (indeed, in most recent races) who has any. Here is a video of even Republicans talking highly of Bernie: http://www.msn.com/en-us/video/news/republicans-dont-agree-with-bernie-sanders-but-they-know-hes-honest/vp-BBqTqEj

For anyone who is interested in Bernie’s track record, you can find old video of Bernie begging Congress not to invade Iraq, predicting what happened with the Panama Papers, and thunderously challenging Citizens United. He has been on the right side of virtually every major mistake we have made in recent decades, even when it wasn’t popular within his party. You will find in in pictures marching with MLK, on picket lines with every important union strike, and campaigning on foot for himself all around Vermont. He has walked the walk for his entire life, fighting for the principles he honed traveling the world and studying different governments in his youth, and I would take a man I respect over somebody who votes the same way as me any day.

Bernie became notorious for flying coach everywhere he went until he received Secret Service protection earlier this year, and was known to be content with the middle seat. He has refused to run negative campaign ads and might also be winning this race — in spite of Clinton’s fraud — if he had chosen to expose her history to a new generation of Democrats, but he has insisted on running on issues alone: https://www.facebook.com/WTFUmedia/videos/217493655286902/. I could post anecdote after after anecdote of his personal interactions with fans, confirming unusual humility and all around upstanding citizenship. Here’s a police dept talking about how he is the first one to ever offer to pay them for the overtime they work when candidates visit a city: http://vetsforbernie.org/2016/03/chief-says-bernie-first-ever-to-pay/. He is also a family man who has raised several kids and grandkids, recently allowing his wife’s first husband to even move in with them (while paying for his cancer treatments!) until his death. If that isn’t someone who understands love, I don’t know what is, and I would take someone with that kind of compassion over conservative politicians who vote more like me, but often show a disturbing lack of humanity in their rhetoric and approach to the suffering of immigrants, the poor, and our enemies.

4. He is the only one thinking sanely about the national debt.

The misconceptions surrounding Bernie’s budget are wild and varied, and I don’t have time to do it justice here. However, it is by far the most reasonable of the three candidates. Both Trump and Clinton have plans to either increase or maintain (read: increase) our national debt, with wildly less realistic proposals. I don’t know how what any of these people voting for them are thinking. Do they just WANT us to turn into Greece? Bernie’s plan not only attempts to balances the budget, but aims for such a huge surplus that it could pay off the entire debt in ten years. Ten years! It is not pie-in-the-sky, either, no matter what anyone wants to say. It has been endorsed by dozens of respected economists, Wall Street financial experts, and even Robert Reich, one of Clinton’s finance guys who is nonetheless respected by all sides of the spectrum, and who has actually run the financials in this country before. No one can predict such numbers perfectly, but the surplus built in is so big that it is also intended to allow for some miscalculation.

Since a significant portion of Bernie’s budget comes from the savings created by reduced healthcare gouging and closing tax loopholes, all of which require Congress, it’s obviously likely that any such plan would be more like a 20 year goal, at best, and would require a shift in Congress. But still — A POLITICIAN ACTUALLY CREATED A PLAN TO PAY DOWN OUR DEBT, and it doesn’t hurt the middle class. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you Bernie will raise taxes on “everyone,” either…there are some fraudulent tax calculators out there funded by the Hillary crowd, which purposely misrepresent the numbers to include payroll taxes and healthcare payments to make it look like it would cost us all more money, when it would save almost all of us money (or break even. Here are some better ones: http://www.thenation.com/.../voxs-tax-calculator-is.../ and http://datatitian.com/why-voxs-numbers-for-bernie.../

Even if future administrations and Congress never enable Bernie’s plan, at the very least it shows how much he understands what’s important, and his judgment is similarly needed to reform our banking sector. If we don’t get some serious reform (Dodd-Frank was pretty weak), we are heading for another bubble and (worse) recession. What became abundantly clear in the bailouts is that NO politician can be trusted to do the right thing on this except a person like Bernie, who has a track record of consistently calling out these issues his entire life. The reason nothing get’s done isn’t because there’s not bipartisan support in Congress. Its because our presidential candidates have long been under the influence of banking and lobbyist connections,and thus not truly motivated. Bernie is the only politician I know with zero influence from big money, and getting this influence out of politics is the only thing that will determine your ability as a Republican to vote for change in the future, in a country controlled by a Democrat majority and therefore a Democrat oligarchy.

5. He works well with Republicans.

Bernie is one of the most well-liked people in Congress, by both constituents and peers. He has the highest approval rating of any Senator, and is seemingly thought of even more highly of by the Republicans than his own party, who he has been challenging for their hypocrisy and partisanship for years. He is known to be enormously effective in Congress, passed more amendments than most Congressmen in recent history, often the bipartisan efforts that make bills actually pass. He has worked closely with others on projects like saving our Veteran’s Program, which he was credited by John McCain for being the reason that it succeeded. Check out this interview with Colin Powell’s chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson a few months ago, saying that he would “absolutely” prefer Bernie to some of the Republican candidates in this race https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nFnggBHFUo, as well as Robert Reich’s comment from his time in the White House:

6. He has a sane foreign policy.

As I mentioned, Bernie has been on the right side of every war in our terrible 20 year history, though he is by no means a pacifist. While we’ve already talked about abortion as a serious issue of innocent life, in an election where policy on this will be completely untouched by whoever is elected, it surprises me that more conservatives are not focusing on ending our tendency to massacre innocent people across the world through terrible foreign policy. There is a reason that Bernie has more military support than any other candidate (follow the very passionate Vets for Bernie group), and his top donors are all military folk. For an issue that falls so near and dear to the hearts of Republicans, I am surprised there are not more people who don’t think twice about listening to our boys.

7. Whether or not you would vote for Bernie in the general, a vote for him in the primary is a message to a corrupt establishment and a move to save our democracy.

For those who question the increasing use of the word “oligarchy” to describe our government, please consider that a Clinton presidency would mean 24 of 32 years of American presidency was kept between the same TWO political families. As evidence by Hillary’s easy theft of this election, such movement towards political oligarchy of privilege and connection is getting more dangerous and must be broken up in favor of candidates who truly represent their people. I’ll never understand why the groups with the most paranoia about government takeover spend so much time talking about gun permits and no time talking about the Citizens United ruling, which effectively pushed them OUT of the democratic process and made you powerless against your own government. It doesn’t really matter what policies you’re afraid or which you want to happen, Bernie is the only candidate fighting to restore democracy and make your vote count, and realistically, that is going to be a lot more to protect you than bunkers and ammunition. Bernie’s movement has already started the conversation to get superdelegates out of the Democrat’s process, and reform voter laws on all sides. Electing him through the sheer power of bipartisan votes that even Hillary Clinton can’t cheat to overcome — the one candidate proving that Super Pacs are unnecessary and the voice of (regular) people can be organized and effective — is the only thing that will send a message to the establishment that their games will no longer work. However, if Bernie doesn’t win, the establishment will come back stronger, having learned from being caught them off guard. As I already discussed, I believe truly small government (Libertarian) is the way to go, and longterm, there’s not really any other direction, as once AI hits we will run out of jobs and have to go back to working the land and living in simple, local economies. But we will never move in that direction until we first stop allowing the rich and powerful to buy the government of our country, and that’s going to take someone like Bernie to stand up and stops it. For the love of freedom, please consider using your primary vote to send a message that it will not be tolerated anymore.

8. Speaking of civil liberties….

Bernie is looser on gun rights than Clinton and recently took flack for maintaining that it is ridiculous for gun manufacturers to be sued for mass shootings. He is staunchly in opposition of things like the Patriot Act which is a longterm threat to our privacy and freedom of speech.

9. And for those with a soft spot for Israel, he would be the first Jewish president. That’s pretty cool.

10. Did I mention he’s not Hillary?

I cannot stress this enough people. The real choice this November, no matter how we all feel about it, is between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — and it is being made right now, in the primaries, by REPUBLICANS. Especially California’s Republicans. Unless you are an idealist/symbolic voter, I’d say the choice is pretty clear, but maybe that’s just me ;)

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PS. Someone brought to our attention three ridiculous smears against Bernie that have gotten spread around by certain contentious factions of the right-wing. One is the “Bernie is a loser” myth. Snopes actually did a debunking of this, which should tell you something about your source of information http://www.snopes.com/bernie-sanders-loser-meme/. Even that falls a little short of the full picture of Bernie’s life, however, which can be only put together through snippets of his speeches and travel records over his entire life. Suffice to say that to imply that Bernie never held a steady job until he was mayor is like saying that a starving actor who works odd jobs and spends every minute of their free time researching, practicing and pounding pavement (which it takes to strike it big on a one-in-a-million chance), then does it and goes on to do groundbreaking and respected work, “never had a steady job” beforehand. It is well known that many exceptional intellects and creatives drop out of school (which Bernie completed) and take an unusual path. The path is part of the job from day one. To imply that Bernie would be better qualified to be president if he had taken the path of every mediocre liberal arts grad in the country is silly. He came from nothing, and never wanted to do anything except politics. He spent his entire young life working an assortment of odd jobs, all of which had an extremely “steady” component to them, devouring everything he could get his hands on about political theory and history. He traveled the world studying governments and social experiments, presumably self-funded (do people honestly think his occasional unemployment benefits paid for that?). This allowed him to shape his beliefs about policies that would work well to solve problems in the United States, and make him one of the most authoritative voices on social democracy and different government theories around the world. He worked night and day to get where he is (and still does) overcoming all odds by trying over and over to get elected to a party that didn’t want him because of his integrity and out-of-the-box thinking. Then he went on to become one of the most successful Senators (approval and legislative-accomplishment-wise) we have ever had. He has broken every political primary record, overturned the power of some of the most corrupt legislation in recent history (Citizens United), all via unprecedented grassroots fundraising, and has started a political movement amongst the generation of voters that NOBODY has been able to politically engage and everyone said was impossible. Oh, and unseated the most powerful Democratic frontrunner that has ever existed, in spite of a total media blackout and ZERO major endorsements at the beginning. To try to spin this ultimate American success story into something less than respectable simply because you misunderstand how tax math works shows how bad the partisanship in this country has become, and why a candidate like Bernie — uniting people across parties to fight real evil — is desperately needed.

A second smear that has gotten past around is that his decades of research into political theory and his numerous diplomatic trips overseas makes him a “communist sympathizer.” Smh. See Maury meme above.

The third smear concerns the fact that the college Jane Sanders was once the president of has now gone out of business, citing huge debt problems and low attendance. Some are trying to make this reflect negatively on Bernie’s understanding of debt and finance, as well as responsible spending. However, what nobody mentions is that like so many private colleges in America, the school was already struggling when Jane took over and did the only thing you can do — renovate and try to attract students with new programs. In some cases it works out, but in other cases, it doesn’t, as with Burlington. By all accounts Jane was well loved and worked in tandem with the Board of the college, who ultimately make decisions like expansion with even more weight than the President. Without a doubt, this experience has only enhanced Jane and Bernie’s conviction that education costs are currently unsustainable — for students and institutions — and Bernie’s plan to expand accessibility to the public sector is one of the most logical solutions.

PS2. If you’re considering changing your party preference to vote for Bernie in your primary, pay attention to these dates and double check your registration so you don’t get purged!

New Jersey — May 17th registration/party switch

http://voteforbernie.org/state/new-jersey/

North Dakota — same day, just show up to caucus

http://voteforbernie.org/state/north-dakota/

South Dakota — May 23rd registration/party switch (you can be a Democrat, Independent, or No Party Preference)

http://voteforbernie.org/state/south-dakota/

Montana — same day registration

http://voteforbernie.org/state/montana/

California — May 23rd

http://voteforbernie.org/state/california/

You can vote for him as a Democrat or a No Party Preference/Unaffiliated, but be warned that if you change to NPP, you will have to request a SECOND ballot once they mail you your sample ballot, and in some places you must do this by May 31. They’re trying to make it as confusing as possible, it seems, and a lot of people’s new registration has been lost. Don’t let them lose you!

**Many thanks to my friend @Chris, who edited, co-wrote, and provided a lot of the source material for this post. I could not have filled in the technical gaps on my own; thank you for helping me get my story out!