I’m going to use this post to explain why I will vote for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary. Keep in mind that, as a progressive-realist and pragmatist, I will vote in the general election for whichever candidate is the nominee for the Democratic Party. This vote will not be because I always and only vote Democrat, but because every one of the Republic candidates at this time would be the worst of all possible choices.
With the above caveat, here is my reasoning about Senator Sanders. I have posted twice before about Bernie, and here are those links if you missed them or want to refresh: Part 1 and Part 2.
I am, and have been for a very long time, a socialist. Perhaps I am a Democratic Socialist, as is Bernie. If that means that I’m not a flaming, radical revolutionary intent on bringing down capitalism and the US government as we know it, then yeah, that’s it. I don’t see socialism and capitalism as mutually exclusive, in the way the old-style Communists did. I am also a capitalist, in the sense that I have owned a business that made profits, I have money invested in the stock market, and so on. I don’t see these two political and economic ideologies as mutually exclusive. I do understand the dangers inherent in pure capitalism as well as in pure socialism. I also know that there are good forms of both, and in a sense, there is a blend that can work in positive ways. (The B corporation movement is a good example of this.)
I identify very closely with who Bernie Sanders is, what Bernie says, and what Bernie stands for. I know Bernie, not that I have ever met him, but because his origins and identity are so similar to mine. But more importantly, what Bernie stands for are the same things I stand for.
This election will be the only election in my voting life, past and future, in which a self-described socialist is a contender for the nomination of one of the two major political parties in the United States. And Bernie has a chance to be the Democratic Party nominee.
Anyone who says Bernie has no chance to be the nominee has not been paying attention. Anyone who says Bernie can’t win the election against the Republican nominee has not been paying attention. Anyone who thinks Bernie doesn’t have enough experience to be President should look at his record, and maybe compare it to that of Barack Obama when he was a candidate for President.
The main reason, however, that I will vote for Bernie is that I think the 2016 election might be the last shot we have in the United States to swing our political system to a better direction. The big problems of our time are directly related to the huge inequality of income and wealth distribution, and the tremendous grip the wealthy and the corporate world have on our political system. This inequality and oligarchic control have led the United States down the path of government for the few instead of the many, with dire consequences for the vast majority of our population. No candidate for the 2016 election other than Bernie Sanders has a campaign based on this political and economic reality (and we don’t expect any Republican candidate to ever have that position!). Hillary Clinton has moved in that direction out of necessity in order to try to stand toe-to-toe with Bernie, but her movement in his direction is simply campaign rhetoric, not born of her political history.
I am concerned that President Sanders will have trouble with Congress. In addition to the same trouble President Obama has dealt with for the past seven years, President Sanders will potentially have a new set of problems within his own party. As a Democratic Socialist, President Sanders will not have a Democratic Socialist Party behind him, and he will need to rely on the support of the Democratic Party. The big question is: will the majority of Democrats in the House and Senate get onboard with the ideas and programs of President Sanders? This remains to be seen.
Some of you will now be thinking: “This last statement by Fishman is the best reason to vote for Clinton, because the Democrats will certainly be behind her all the way!” Well, yes, many Democrats might be more aligned with Hillary’s brand of politics than with Bernies, but this is a big reason to vote for Bernie! Look at it this way; a vote for Clinton is a vote for business as usual, and look where business-as-usual has taken us. I am not convinced that President Hillary Clinton will move us in the direction we need to move if we have any hope to drastically change how this country works. I do have hope that President Bernie Sanders will give it his very best to radically change how this country works. And that, in my opinion, is our best chance.
I wrote a post here in June, 2005 titled: “Now is it time for the Revolution?” I was reacting to the first four years of Cheney/Bush, but that question is perhaps even more germane now. I’m serious - we are in very deep shit, and it’s getting deeper every day. The levels of hate, fear, distrust and anger in the United States are palpable; the divide between us is possibly wider than ever before. And now so many of us are armed to the teeth!
I don’t expect to change any minds with this post. If you are reading these words, it means you read this far, and at best you will give it some thought. Thanks for getting here. And please vote, no matter who your candidate might be.