Ah, election time… The circus-like atmosphere! The lies! The intrigue!
Had I mentioned that my native cynicism and pessimism reach their peak when it comes to politics?
Choosing a candidate to support is inevitably stressful, and usually depressing. I mainly try to identify the one whose record indicates he or she is least likely to sabotage those things I most highly prioritise.
Not exactly an exercise in enthusiastic citizenship.
This year though, I find myself in an interesting position: There is a person running for President who actually has a record of standing by his convictions. Unheard of! And what’s more, many of his convictions echo my own! So:
Why I’m voting for Bernie Sanders in 10,000 words or less.
(Assuming he doesn’t do anything really stupid or reprehensible before then.)
In brief –
I want some important transformation, and I think that Bernie Sanders is the presidential candidate most likely to help achieve that transformation.
More specifically, I believe that Senator Sanders is the only choice who is going to fight meaningfully for what I feel is most important right now:
I want more people to be able to own small businesses.
There are a number of practical reasons for this, my favourites being:
- Small businesses create most of the jobs in this country.
- Small local businesses tend to contribute to their communities in different ways than large non-local employers – more cash in the system, more taxes staying nearby, stronger commitment to the community, more loyalty to employees … the list goes on.
- Also, if you have 1000 small businesses employing most of the people in your town and one of them fails, that is a problem, and it hurts people, but it hurts a few people. If you have one giant corporation employing most of the people in your town, and it fails, or just decides it can get a better deal in China, that is a problem that hurts just about everyone.
Communities as a whole benefit from having more people realistically believe that they can succeed with a business. Right now the deck is stacked against them, but it doesn’t have to be.
And I’d like Americans to be well educated.
And let me say that this doesn’t happen to be an altruistic desire! This is about wanting, dare I say needing, the people who come after me in the workforce having the capacity to keep America prosperous.
I want the workforce of the future to be intelligent and creative, have the ability to think critically, and have a reasonable base of knowledge and skill. Especially when I’m on Social Security! And it’s about my interest in the United States being able to compete in in the global economy.
This is not going to happen if we consistently underfund primary, elementary, and secondary education, and make college education unreachably expensive.
I REALLY want us to have less expensive, more effective, more preventative, health care.
I have degrees in biology and public health, so you can imagine I have some interest in health. I also work in an international organisation, so I’ve had a little opportunity to look at health, and health care, in a number of different places and systems.
Our system compares poorly to those of most of the rest of the developed countries, and frighteningly, even some undeveloped countries! Now, if it was just that we don’t care about health, and don’t invest in it, maybe that would be less disturbing, but our healthcare system is the most expensive by far! That’s just bad math, friends.
More importantly, I see fixing our health care system as critical to other very important goals like entrepreneurs creating more small businesses, and parents staying home with their kids.
Creating an American single-payer system would give Americans a freedom we can’t have if our ability to pay medical bills is tied to a specific job. I want that freedom for us.
And I do believe more parents should have the option to stay home with their kids.
Note that I did not say mothers. If mom has a great job that supports the family well, and dad is home with the kids – more power to you.
But more American families need to have the option to live decently on one person’s income so that they can devote more time to raising and shaping their children.
And that is going to be available to a far larger pool of people if
- jobs are available here in the United States,
- they pay a living wage,and
- decent health care is affordable regardless of where you work.
A more useful prison system is loooong overdue.
Currently, I pay taxes to support more and more prisoners each year, and most prisons do nothing effective to return prisoners to being productive – dare I say, tax paying – members of society.
Does this make sense to someone else? Because it’s not computing for me. So, I want prisons, which are DARN expensive, to be providing a bit more benefit for that money. Benefit calculated as reduced recidivism works very well for me.
And the right kind of support for military is critical.
Another thing that is not computing here is that while our government spends appalling amounts of money on the hardware of military, we do not support our soldiers, or our veterans, at anything like the levels they deserve after putting their lives on the line to defend us.
That we have both veterans and active duty service men and women needing food stamps and other services to survive, or feed their families, is shameful. That veterans do not have adequate healthcare, and many are sleeping on the streets, is appalling.
I also appreciate that Senator Sanders sees military intervention as a last, not a first, resort in international affairs. Military action involves American men and woman dying. Being permanently disabled. The loss of parents, husbands, and wives. That isn’t something to be taken lightly from a distant position of authority.
And military intervention is expensive – not for the President or the multinational corporation, or the lobbyist, but for me, the tax payer. When war is necessary, I am happy to pay my share, but I want a commander in chief who makes responsible decisions about how and when it’s needed.
Finally, I want to be part of a thoughtful, functioning democracy within this democratic republic.
I would not vote for Senator Sanders if I did not agree with a great many of his goals, but the thing I am most hopeful about is his position on HOW he will accomplish his goals.
I saw an interviewer ask him how he planned to get 90 senators to vote for his proposals. Senator Sanders’ response was that HE wasn’t going to do that.
He would take the issues to the people who elected all of them, and work with us to hold our elected representatives responsible for doing what the people who elected them want done.
That was the first time that Senator Sanders’ campaign seemed revolutionary to me.
Now, the above are the biggies. My soap box issues. There are a scattering of other things:
- He is a crabby old man. (I have a dreadful weakness for crabby old men.)
- Despite that, he has been courteous in all the interactions I’ve seen him have. He has pointedly sidestepped some beautiful opportunities to take low blows against his opponents, electing to focus on the issues instead. This may not be the best choice politically, but it makes him someone I can respect. And I don’t get to say that about many politicians.
- He sticks to his guns. Despite being courteous, Senator Sanders doesn’t give in to special interests or change his stand every time the wind shifts.
- And speaking of guns, he has the most sensible position on guns and gun control I’ve ever heard issue from the mouth of a high-level politician.
- He is a Jew, who lost family in the Holocaust, who even did his youthful pilgrimage to work on a Kibutz in Israel, who is completely rational and sensible about Islam and Israel-Palestine.
- He agrees that GMOs should be labelled and Corporations are not people. (These actually are two of my big soap box issues, but the post is already long enough.)
- It’s a small thing, but I also like that although Senator Sanders appears to be life-long pro-choice, when he and his own girlfriend found themselves with a presumably unexpected pregnancy, they not only did not choose abortion, but Senator Sanders appears to have raised the child as a single parent. And done a done a darn good job of it at that.
Will a President Sanders accomplish all that, in 4, or 8 years?
No. The President is one cog in the governing wheel of our country and change takes time. But he will take us closer to it, rather than farther away, which is the only direction that helps.
AND the process he claims he intends to use will go a long way toward bringing us back to life as an electorate, so that after his time in office maybe WE will make more of the changes that we want in our country.
Would a President Sanders perfectly represent my every interest and goal?
Goodness, no. He, like any other government official, should represent the people of the United States, of which I am only one. But he is more likely to represent me than he is to represent the corporations and insanely wealthy families and individuals that pay for the campaigns of most politicians at his level, and that’s a good start.
Do I think Senator Sanders is right on everything?
Are you kidding? I still struggle to think GOD is right on everything! A mere human being? NEVER.
Will a President Sanders save us all from sin and error and present us faultless before God?
Wouldn’t Hillary Clinton do just as well?
I don’t believe so. Secretary Clinton, like most politicians right or left, is too tied to the established norms and big money to effect real change. She supports more of the things I support than, say, Donald Trump, but in the end I feel she is going to be business as usual. Some tougher than President Obama, perhaps, but no real change.
So then if Bernie Sanders isn’t an option will I take my football and go home?
A final no. I’m voting for the issues that matter most to me. And to refuse to vote for the next best candidate on those issues is, effectively, to vote for the candidate I consider worst.
So, I will do everything within my power to see the candidate I prefer win, then if that option isn’t available, I’ll do the best I can to vet the remaining options and pick the next best choice.
Some Related Reading:
Capitalism or Socialism? There’s an Even Better Option – Dave Korten says everything better than I ever will, and I think his article here does a good job of describing the concerns I hope to see addressed by this election.
Why do we pay so much for healthcare and get such poor results? I’ll do a whole post on healthcare some day, but in the meantime, this is a good discussion on why it’s such a key concern for me.