I Like Bernie Sanders But . . .

Keeping Our Big Fat Buts Out of Our Voting Decisions


I hear people saying, “I like Bernie Sanders but he doesn’t have a chance.” And that’s true if everyone clings to that attitude. Buuuuut, if you think about it this way, “Hey, I like Bernie. My friends like Bernie.” and you and your friends actually vote for Bernie, then Bernie will win.

Listen, I’m not known for being a positive person. I voted for John Kerry because I intensely disliked Bush — not because I was in love with Kerry as a candidate. I voted for Obama over Hillary Clinton because I thought (hoped?) he’d be a little ballsier and not so hawkish. I’m always going to vote on the liberal side because, at this point in my life, I do not trust the right-wing. I think they care about our country but, I think their solutions are wrong-headed and they are out of touch. I remember John McCain talking about tax cuts when a large chunk of the country was losing jobs. How much do you pay in taxes if you make no money? None.

So, I have been voting my values, basically. I was very enthusiastic about Obama in 2008, less so in 2012. I feel like he negotiated against himself on some issues (because the Republicans certainly weren’t negotiating) and capitulated on policies to appease Republicans who still don’t care about his attempts at reconciliation. “Just say nObama.” (for you younger readers, I’m borrowing from Nancy Reagan a bit.)

In many cases, though, I’m voting against someone rather than for someone. I’ve been voting for who I perceived as the lesser of two evils. I’m tired of that.

With Bernie Sanders, I will be voting for someone who expresses my values. I will be voting for someone who truly is an advocate for the people (and I mean real people, not corporations who, as people, can generally be characterized as assholes).

Bernie is consistent — we know where he stands. If you don’t know where he stands, watch virtually any video of him speaking and you will hear the same thing from him that you heard twenty years ago.

This, incidentally, doesn’t make me anti-Hillary. Rather, it makes me pro-Bernie. I know and like where Bernie stands on the issues and I believe him — he has built decades of credibility. He’s moved Hillary to the left a bit, but listen to how wooden she sounds in her speech — she doesn’t sound like she believes her own words. Now listen to Bernie (skip to 0:54 to move past the Eisenhower portion).

And look at this list of campaign donors to both candidates since 1989:

Image from http://www.vox.com/2015/4/30/8522019/bernie-sanders-hillary-donors

So, who has more credibility? You can say that Bernie is more beholden to unions, certainly, but he doesn’t make any bones about that. He makes it clear that he is on the side of the working person. Hillary says she is, but the din of donor list speaks volumes about who she truly represents. Maybe that’s why she sounds so wooden when she tries to convey a “populist” message.

If I have any concern with Bernie, it’s his ability to accomplish his goals if he is elected President. Most of the same obstructionists will still be in Congress. Perhaps if he dressed up like Colonel Sanders he’d have a better reception than Obama. We must remember that our work does not end with the election. If we want Bernie to be a successful, we have to be louder than the Republican white-noise machine. We have to hold our Congresspeople accountable. Bernie isn’t about Bernie, Bernie is about us. That’s why he’s creating a “movement” rather than running a campaign. We, the people, must have Bernie’s back in order for his goals to succeed. It’s the same idea Obama had, but I think Bernie will hold us accountable. If we send Bernie to the President’s chair to face the brick wall that is our Republican Congress and we don’t continue to work, we may as well send him with a blindfold and a cigarette because we’ll have sent him to a firing squad.

We need to remember that we, the people, have the numbers. The billionaires have the money — we don’t have to buy what they’re selling. There are more of us than there is of them.

Here’s how it works: if you say “I like Bernie but, Bernie can’t win,” then Bernie won’t win. Congratulations. You will be right and we’ll have put MOTS (More Of The Same) in office. Then you can say “all politicians are the same” at your local bar’s Algonquin Round Table. And you will be (mostly) right.

But, if all of us who really like Bernie actually vote for Bernie, we will be surprised. A little bit of hope may creep into our collective conscience. Then we can rightly focus our bitching and complaining on the inevitably obstructionist Congress — and we will get something done. Congresspeople aren’t necessarily bright, but most of them can count (or they have people who count for them).

Remember we, the masses, are the job creators, not the billionaires. If we don’t buy anything, then people don’t have jobs. In fact, we create the billionaires. You don’t see billionaires running the cash register, helping customers or stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart. We, the workers, do that. If we didn’t, then the billionaires would be thousandaires or hundredaires just like us. I don’t resent someone being rich — I resent someone being rich off the sweat and toil of people while outsourcing our jobs, taking away our benefits, stealing our retirement funds while keeping us on starvation wages. Trickle-down economics is just another way of saying a rich guy’s pissing in your shoe.

A dream and no action is merely a dream. If we want the American dream to return then we should keep our big, fat buts out of our decision and vote for someone who represents our values. If we do that, together, all of us will be better off, together.