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Why I am voting for Bernie Sanders today

...and it's not because of some weird hate-on for Hillary.

I'd love to see a woman become the president of these United States. I supported Shirley Chisholm for the office in 1972. Believe me, if Elizabeth Warren or Barbara Lee were in the running, I'd be writing a very different essay.

I'm a feminist. A mom. A grandmother. I've been married to the same man for decades. I'm a small business owner. A home owner. A college graduate. I am a natural-born citizen of the United States of America. I'm lots of things that I'm sure can be plotted on a graph someplace to tell interested parties what I'm likely to buy or if I'll vote a particular way.

I'm also a lifelong left-of-center voter and a lifelong Democrat. This hasn't always been an easy combination. There hasn't been a President of the United States that was left enough for me since Franklin D. Roosevelt, not that I was around to experience his administration first hand. I'm not that old. All of us have benefited from the radical programs started while FDR was in office: minimum wage and other labor laws, the social security program, the enormous public works projects that not only built schools, dams, and public works of art, but employed a nation buffeted by the worst economic disaster we've ever had.

At the moment, we're pulling ourselves out of the second worst economic disaster we've ever had. Some of us are doing better. We managed to hang on to our houses, we weathered the tough times, maybe by leaning on our credit. President Obama's stimulus program made a positive difference for some of us, with COBRA subsidies and extended unemployment benefits. Thankfully, there's been a recovery, but over 30% of that recovery has gone to the people with the top 1% of incomes. The rest went to the other 99%, many of whom are still suffering.

We haven't seen this kind of income inequality in the USA since right before the Great Depression. We also had a serious environmental crisis back then. You don't have to dig very deep to find that income inequality was a contributing factor to both the Dust Bowl and the Depression. There was also a looming fascist movement in various places in the world at the time. Just sayin'. The parallels between then and now are stark.

Cartoon by Tom Toro, visit tomtoro.com

If we think we're not headed for another terrible economic crisis if we stay on this path, we're fooling ourselves. It's still the economy, stupid, to paraphrase the first Clinton (Bill) campaign's focus point.

I've tried to find what Ms. Clinton has to say about income inequality. Searches suggest that she prefers the term “income opportunity”. To me, this indicates that she does not fully appreciate the seriousness of a problem that is at the root of so many of our other problems. It's not surprising, given the circles she moves in. I'd like to think that she knows that opportunity alone will not cure what ails us, but it's hard to tell.

I have a pretty clear picture of the type of society I want to live in, and could be most proud of. It's not some impossible dream. A lot of it we've had here in the not-so-distant past, like affordable public education, and public investment in infrastructure. Other things, like wages high enough to live on, universal access to health care, and time enough off from work to deal with emergencies like, say, having a child, are standard in practically all developed (aka “Western”) countries. Countries with economies much smaller than ours.

I'm not a fan of the “every-'man'-for-themselves”, pay as you go society. Part of the reason for that is that I am one of the Baby Boom generation (very tail end, thanks) and most of us benefited from a tax structure that insured that schools were good, roads, bridges, and airports were shiny and new, and public libraries were all over the place. I was able to pay my University of California tuition from my minimum wage job, without any help from my parents. For reference, minimum wage was less than $2 an hour back then. Such a thing is impossible today. My generation had it pretty good in a lot of ways*. I'm angry when I see people my age telling the millennials that they should just have a little grit, that they are too pampered, that they expect to have things handed to them. It's just the newest version of the “kids these days” refrain, only not as funny. What it really comes down to is “I got mine, you're on your own.” It's despicable.

For me, the primary is rarely about choosing the party presidential candidate, because the primary happens so late in California. That little detail has usually been decided for us by states that vote earlier. It's nice that this year the largest state in the union might have some impact on that decision. It's exciting to see things still this close this late in the race. I am delighted that a candidate that aligns with my politics is still in a national race, for the first time ever in my voting career!

So, yeah, I'm voting for Bernie Sanders, the candidate that shares my vision of the best path for our society. He isn't telling me what I want to hear. He's been saying the same things for decades. He's been consistent and unwavering on the issues that I think are most important.

But wait, there's more!

The primary isn't the general election. The primary is when we tell our party what we want from them. The general election is when we rally behind our nominee. 

I'd love to see Bernie become the POTUS, but that's not the only reason to vote for him. When the Democratic National Convention meets to choose our party's presidential candidate next month, it will also decide what the party stands for. The priorities of the party are spelled out in the party platform. The delegates vote to approve what will become the tenets of the party for the next four years.

I want the Democratic party to stand for more than “Hey, we're not as bad as Trump”. That's a laudable goal and everything, but it sets the bar way too low.

I want the party to pledge itself to build access to quality education, improve our infrastructure, and combat economic injustice. These are the things I think we need to strengthen our country. I'd rather the party be beholden to the interests of our citizens as a whole than to corporate interests and the extremely wealthy. Is that controversial? If it is, then we have a real problem.

IMO, the best way to get the platform that reflects the best hope for our nation is to send as many votes to Bernie as we possibly can. Like any other institution, the party will only move in the direction its members demand.

Let's tell it what we want, what we really, really want!

*I'm not saying everything was better then. It clearly wasn't. Some things — a lot of things — are better in this country now than they've ever been. There have been a lot of beneficial cultural shifts and there's less litter, for instance. Also, we have internet now!

This entry was originally posted at http://rebcake.dreamwidth.org/43361.html. Please comment here or there using OpenID.



( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2016 09:09 am (UTC)
I like Bernie for many of the same reasons you described.

Hope things go well for your primary today.
Jun. 7th, 2016 09:22 am (UTC)
It's so interesting! Which reminds me of the curse: may you live in interesting times.
Jun. 7th, 2016 11:06 am (UTC)
Just voted for Bernie in my Primary in New Jersey. I'm with you on being excited because for once my primary vote will actually be important this year. Usually by time I vote in the primary it's so late that one candidate has already sewn up the nomination. I was proud to cast my vote for Bernie Sanders this morning. And I voted for the down ticket ballots of candidates that supported him!

We have been falling behind in so many areas when compared to other countries for a while now. It boggles the mind that the richest country on earth has such poor health care, education, infrastructure etc... Bernie Sanders has been steadfast in his support of issues that mean a great deal to me.
Jun. 7th, 2016 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for voting, citizen! I, of course, agree with you on all counts.

This is the most unusual election that I can recall, and I avidly follow them all. It really feels like the soul of the nation is going through some kind of crucible.

I awfully nice not being a foregone conclusion for a change. The convention is going to be riveting!
Jun. 7th, 2016 06:04 pm (UTC)
Do you know if average citizens get into the convention? I'm not a delegate but I really want to attend this convention.
Jun. 7th, 2016 06:12 pm (UTC)
Without press or delegate credentials, I highly doubt that a civilian could get into the convention itself. However, there will probably be lots of "off campus" events in town, if you're local.

I ran to be a delegate, but it's a very hot ticket this year! There were over 50 women vying for 5 slots in the Bernie caucus.

Edited at 2016-06-07 09:46 pm (UTC)
Jun. 7th, 2016 01:42 pm (UTC)
THIS. All of it. Because I too am a feminist who would love to see a female president and if Elizabeth Warren were running... But she isn't and Hilary Clinton is. Hilary Clinton, who once lied to Elizabeth Warren and promised to vote against a bill that made bankruptcy harder for poor people, a bill the bankers and Wall Street loved, only to turn around and vote for it. Make no mistake, if she's ultimately the nominee, I will vote for her, but I will be doing so to vote against Trump. I want a candidate I can vote for and that's why I support Bernie Sanders.

Jun. 7th, 2016 03:46 pm (UTC)
I don't know if you've noticed, but I try not to speak ill of people. That said, it's pretty hard to ignore that Hillary inspires a lot of negative feelings, some of them a direct result of actual things she's done or said. How I feel about certain Republicans, millions of people feel about her. I shudder at the idea that the general election will come down to who can inspire the most hate for the other candidate. Is that really what this country is about?

Urgh. I must hit the polls and clear my mind.
Jun. 7th, 2016 04:27 pm (UTC)
I know and I understand and I would never make personal remarks against her the way so many are doing. It's disgusting. My issues with her are political. I don't give a damn about anything else when I step into the voting booth. I hope I have not upset you in any way, because I respect and admire you and I would never want to distress you.

Jun. 7th, 2016 05:07 pm (UTC)
Nope, no distress here! People are absolutely free to express their justifiable anger in this space.

There's so much to process in this race. Lots of it is distraction, IMHO, but that doesn't mean the things being said are untrue.

I'm not looking forward to the rhetoric of the general election, that's for sure!
Jun. 7th, 2016 03:21 pm (UTC)
I hope you get your wish and the number of votes for Sanders will influence the formation of policy. It does seem way too much these days that people find themselves voting for the least worst option.

Also, given the divisive legacy of Margaret Thatcher, ultimately it's policies that count, not the sex of the candidate.

Edited at 2016-06-07 06:24 pm (UTC)
Jun. 7th, 2016 03:53 pm (UTC)
I feel for you guys, with weeks to slog through until the referendum.

But yes, it's so nice to have something to vote FOR, rather than against.

Yes, Margaret Thatcher is indeed the answer to "but Hillary's a woman". I doubt that Hillary is as heartless and bloodthirsty as Thatcher, but she's not exactly some progressive ideal, either. "Not entirely heartless" is hardly a ringing endorsement, is it?
Jun. 7th, 2016 04:14 pm (UTC)
"Not entirely heartless" is hardly a ringing endorsement, is it?

No, not at all.

The referendum campaign over here seems to plumb lower and lower depths with every day that passes. The latest scaremongering from the Leave campaign claims that if we stay in the EU, British women are more in danger of being sexually assaulted.

Like I said, it's hard to know how it could get any scummier, beyond the Leavers getting Trump to campaign for them, because I'm sure he could think of even worse things to say.

On the other hand, I've not much sympathy with Cameron and the Stay bunch either. He's brought this on himself. He didn't have to call a referendum. He just caved in to the Neanderthal right wing of his party.
Jun. 7th, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC)
He's brought this on himself.

Same with the Republicans over here. They are so very far from being the party of Lincoln, anymore. Their machinations have led to them losing control of their own party, and I am personally hoping this will lead to a splintering of the party after Trump loses in November and takes the people down ticket with him. Mwahahaha!

The 2 party system is not working very well. We really ought to have four at least — right, center right, center left, left — but tradition is hard to overturn in our young nation.
Jun. 7th, 2016 05:38 pm (UTC)
and I am personally hoping this will lead to a splintering of the party after Trump loses in November and takes the people down ticket with him. Mwahahaha!

It could do. On the other hand, I can't help remembering how everyone on LJ assured me there could never be a President Trump. In fact, there could never be a Candidate Trump. And yet now he's the Republican candidate. I know that the numbers don't appear to add up for him to ever possibly win, but the world's in a weird place. I'm worried.
Jun. 7th, 2016 06:49 pm (UTC)
You are right to worry, for all the good it does. If Hillary gets the nomination, it's going to be a battle of "which do you hate less?" So distasteful.
Jun. 7th, 2016 05:03 pm (UTC)
I am resigned to voting for Hilary to keep Trump out of the Whitehouse. He is terrifying.
Jun. 7th, 2016 05:10 pm (UTC)
In the general election? Sure. The most terrifying thing for me about Trump is the people who are buying what he's selling. I think he'll lose, but they will still be there. Are we ever going to stop fighting the Civil War?
Jun. 7th, 2016 05:34 pm (UTC)
As soon as Bernie lost the Texas primary the resignation set in so it feels like forever.

Are we ever going to stop fighting the Civil War? It doesn't look like it.
Jun. 7th, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC)
I am as distressed as you are about the income inequality, lack of universal healthcare, lack of affordable education, big money in politics… all of it. But Bernie has not put forth a plan that I find plausible in today's Congress. The Democrats need to win the presidency and the Senate or, it will be very difficult for anyone to get ANYTHING done. So that's the first goal for me. And weakening an already weak candidate (Hillary) doesn't feel like it gets me closer to that goal. But I applaud you for making a statement. I think the statement the Bernie supporters have made the has definitely been heard, and I think it will have a lasting effect. Meanwhile, I will be voting for the more pragmatic option and hoping she wins, and exceeds our expectations.

Edited at 2016-06-07 08:43 pm (UTC)
Jun. 7th, 2016 06:44 pm (UTC)
The composition of the congress definitely needs to change if we are going to have legislative change. We'll see how that goes. It changes every 2 years, one way or another.

Bernie has been pretty open about using executive power to set policy, which is really all that either he or Hillary can do with an obstructionist congress in office.

Personally, I love Mr. President Obama Sir, but I think he made a serious error by not taking the huge mandate he got originally and implementing much stronger changes, a la FDR. Voters saw that his original message was getting diluted into the usual thin gruel even when he had congress behind him, and stayed home in droves in later elections. Look what that got us.

Anything the Bernie supporters say about Hillary cannot possibly compare with the horror she will face in a general election against the Republican machine. If she and the party can't see that, they are very short-sighted indeed. Laying off now will not help her then.

If she does get the nomination in July, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she can overcome the fact that she is widely disliked and not wildly charismatic. It's going to be hard work for all of us.

That's why I think that Sanders actually IS the pragmatic choice in this case. Of course, YMMV.
Jun. 8th, 2016 06:36 am (UTC)
THIS! So much This! You put it perfectly - all my hopes, dreams, fears - and current terror.

Let's add in one more problem - the world population has tripled in my lifetime, yet automation is making a lot of jobs the modern version of the buggy-whip manufacturers after the cars came along.

We have a wealthy class-and we have an excessively large labor class. That's pretty much the recipe for all forms of feudalism. There's no reason for the rich to care if a billion or two poor people starve to death, or die of disease. They have all the labor they need.

It's critical at this time that the laborers get power or they will be crushed.
Jun. 9th, 2016 04:16 am (UTC)
The other way of looking at the "excessively large" labor class is that we do not live to serve at the pleasure of the wealthy (whether they see it that way or not) and we can overcome them with sheer numbers. If there isn't enough bread or circuses, we get ornery.
Jun. 9th, 2016 08:02 pm (UTC)
Agreed - but I was talking about history. The feudal system was destroyed by the plague because all those serfs could find other work. This has been a constant throughout history - a sort of human supply and demand.

Now - in the US - we have a militarized police force - a population willing to believe lies about class, ethnicity, and race, a media owned by the elite - the narrative writes itself. Look at the reporting about the "riots" caused by Black Lives Matter - riots that never really happened. The scar ting is that so many people will go meekly to the slaughterhouse without even knowing where they are going, and blaming some other poor schmuck.

Sander is the only real wake-up call I've seen that has united people and pried open some eyes. Even if Hilary is the candidate - and I will vote for her - Sanders has done more for the US than anyone in decades.
Jun. 9th, 2016 10:06 pm (UTC)
Politics have had an "Emperor's New Clothes" quality about them for a long time now, and Mr. Sanders straight talk has been a tonic. I'm sure people on the right feel that way about Trump, god help 'em. Here is a friend's photo of some Berkeley street art for your amusement:
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )



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