Warning: Politics Ahead
Note: I wrote and shared this on Facebook a few weeks ago, just before Maine’s Democratic Caucus. I decided to share it here as well.
I’m writing because the Democratic Party is caucusing on Sunday, and I’m writing in support of Bernie Sanders. For as long as I’ve been paying attention to politics (which is a while — I remember watching Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News with my parents), I’ve watched as the country has been slowly getting dragged rightward politically, and it’s dragging the Democratic party right along with it.
The shift rightward hasn’t been great for the United States. We have 30+ years of pretty solid evidence that trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Our military budget is spiraling out of control but we’re cutting taxes on the rich anyway. Manufacturing jobs are gone. And income and wealth inequality are historically out of whack. Focusing on the supply side of our economy and ignoring the demand side for so long has left us stalled. We propped up consumer demand by recklessly buying on credit, and the day of reckoning has come.
Worse, an entire generation was told they had to go to college to get good paying jobs, but the cost of college has gone up so disproportionately with inflation that few can afford it without taking what amounts to a mortgage-worth of debt in their early 20s. They bought their future on faith that there’d be a job for them at the end. Now they’re left holding the bag, and that same generation who told them they needed a degree has the gall to blame them for it.
These are solved problems in other nations, where people openly take pride in their citizens’ common wealth. But they’re solved progressive ideas, ideas that were championed by the Democrats of a now bygone era. FDR’s New Deal or LBJ’s Great Society would never even make it out of committee today. As Democrats have become reliant on corporate donors, the Overton Window has slid rightward along with it.
Which brings me to Bernie Sanders. Look — I get it. At a time where congress won’t even appoint a Supreme Court justice, won’t even pass a budget, won’t even raise the debt ceiling, why on earth do I think it’s a good idea to elect a Democratic Socialist to be president?
1) I really don’t care *that much* if not a single idea he proposes ever passes. I mean, it’d be great. I’ve supported HR676 (Medicare for All) for years. I remember when UMaine was an affordable option for people. I think a $15/hour minimum wage is reasonable. But more important than that, what I don’t want is for my government, and my Democratic party, to continue to dismiss the ideas of the left. If a stubborn, obstinate Congress decides to ignore the fact that a Democratic Socialist was elected by the American electorate because they’ve had enough of trying the same broken ideas, then they can do so at their own peril.
2) Presidential elections are a game of voter turnout. There’s no “winning the center” if the center doesn’t show up, and often, they don’t. Thus, getting a President elected is about energizing your base. Karl Rove (bless his heart) proved it. Is “the base” energized by Hillary Clinton? Hardly. You know who is? Rabid Republicans who can’t stand her. Some people may dismiss polls that come out this early, but it’s hard to ignore that current polls show Bernie Sanders beating Trump handily, while Clinton does not. It’s also important to note that favorability ratings are a decent indicator of electability this early in the electoral season. In those polls, it isn’t even close, it’s Sanders by a mile.
3) We will never get all money out of politics. But the farcical situation we have today with Super PACs is bald-faced legalized bribery, and everybody knows it. I don’t think there’s any other candidate in either major party who wants to change it.
4) Yes, some of his numbers are… optimistic. I’m particularly skeptical of his Wall St. transaction tax based on its performance other places it’s been tried. So what? What’s your idea then? Let’s try to find the money to fix the cost of a college education instead of having a defeatist attitude from the start.
5) Obama tried negotiating from the center (remember the public option originally a part of Obama/Romneycare? How’d that go?). Why elect someone who’s going to meet the GOP halfway before they even start the conversation? That never works.
I’m tired of the Democratic party holding social issues hostage to make me vote for candidates who refuse to support a reasonable living minimum wage, or a path to single payer healthcare. I’m tired of threats to appoint an unreasonable Supreme Court Justice unless I elect someone who has no qualms about ratifying disastrous free trade agreements.
I’ve threatened to vote Green if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination, and it’s usually met with some snark about my privilege, because social issues must not matter enough for me. I *am* privileged, and I know I am, and that sucks, but who the hell am I supposed to vote for anymore? Economic injustice is wrong, too. Call me a petulant child for not getting my way — I can’t keep supporting economic injustice by voting for candidates whose desire to fix it is tepid at best.
Anyhow, if you’ve made it this far, congrats, because you have a better attention span than I have. Thanks for listening. When you’re caucusing this weekend, please consider the trajectory the country has been on, and where that momentum is pulling us, particularly with the economic policy. I think crotchety old Bernie Sanders is our best hope to nudge us back on course. Thanks.