By JAX ARMSTRONG & OZHAN ZARIFI
On Tuesday, March 3rd, the democratic primary in California will take place. Primary elections are specifically used to narrow the field of candidates going into the general election, which ultimately determines the final positions of the governance. One of the current running candidates, polling 2nd after Joe Biden in a recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll, has been gaining momentum come election season. This is Bernie Sanders, the senator of Vermont and former member of the House of Representatives, who is running again after his 2016 loss to Hillary Clinton.
In this upcoming primary, a ballot for Bernie Sanders ensures the most ethical starting-point for the future of America. During the sixties, Bernie Sanders fought for the civil rights of all Americans, which helped end discrimination, segregation, and gave basic rights and freedoms to the disenfranchised. From a young age, Sanders described himself as a “democratic socialist.” However, this self-prescription of socialism is more concrete than it may sound.
The “radical” re-imagination of the systems that Sanders advocates for is necessary to counterbalance the asymmetrical polarization of the Republican Party ensued by Trumpian politics. The damage done by Trump is still reversible, but not for much longer. Take for instance the growing threat of global climate change, which has proved to be catastrophic in the status quo (e.g. Hurricane Dorian in Florida, the wildfires in Australia, sea levels rising at an unprecedented rate). Trump has characterized the threat of climate change as something of minimal importance and refused to pass legislation regarding progressive climate change reform.
One such piece of legislation, The Green New Deal, proposes a higher price on fossil fuels, and overall massive industrial reform to a more eco-friendly American industry. The Green New Deal is used as a tool to reduce emissions and has specific systematic change that allows a large scale reform in the industry to go smoothly. Bernie Sanders has been an active proponent for the institution of the Green New Deal, and a strong advocate of climate reform. Bernie specifically stresses the importance of building an economy around the climate, which calls for large-scale change and would result in the breaking-up of large monopolies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron.
The restructuring that the Green New Deal and Bernie Sanders propose will address both climate change and income inequality, which have worked in harmony in capitalist economies since the emergence of the modern industry. The Green New Deal has been characterized as “radical socialist policy-making” and criticized for the socialization of the economy. However, with the continuation of Trump’s environmental policies, climate change will prove irreversibly catastrophic, as General Assembly President María Fernandia Espinosa Garces started during a United Nations council meeting. She stressed that we have eleven years until climate change produces more avert damage, stating, “we are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet”.
Bernie Sanders’s biggest draw for many voters is his credibility and ethics. As mentioned before, he has this long history of social activism and view of the world that has been consistent. He’s been fighting for the issues for almost fifty years. For example, he opposed the Iraq War and stood up to homophobic remarks about gay men and women in the military. Sanders stays true to his beliefs and does not flip flop on policies to fit social norms.
The leader in national polls, Joe Biden, has fundamental flaws in both his methodological approach to policy and his character itself. Instances of the “fundamental flaws in character” are predicated on his history of plagiarism which surfaced in the 1988 Democratic primaries, the amount of times in which he was called out for inappropriate touching, and various fiery breakouts, whereas the flaws in methodology are predicated on the number of times Biden was willing to cut social security and medicare and the responsibility he has for voting to enter in the Iraq War.
Next, the so-called “counterpart” of Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, has proved to be a viable candidate for a message centered around her economic system and support for a universal health care system. However, Warren has had a shaky relationship with the media. One of Warren’s most prominent media mishaps is accusing the 2016 primary election of being “rigged” and then claiming she misspoke. In addition, Warren has claimed to be Native American and used her minimal percentage of Native American genes to develop her career. Warren maintains she never furthered her career by using her heritage to gain an advantage. However, Harvard Law School in the 1990s touted Warren, then a professor in Cambridge, as being “Native American.” They singled her out, Warren later acknowledged, because she had listed herself as a minority in an Association of American Law Schools directory (CNN Politics). Warren’s identification as a minority for professional benefit misunderstands what initiatives that create a level playing field (like Affirmative Action) are meant to do. Warren perverted the use of Affirmative Action to bear the fruit of “Harvard Law” without experiencing the institutional oppression actual minorities are forced to face. Warren supported Trump’s defense budget increase, consistent with all Democratic candidates except for both Sanders and Gabbard. Even when it came into terms of big money in politics, she made a pledge she wasn’t going to take big money donations during the primaries. However, she said she was open to taking large donations in the general election, which undermines the action of not taking large donations. This in itself is an independent reason to vote for Bernie Sanders, as he is one of the only progressive candidates that has shown his rejection of large-corporations’ influence on American politics.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg – who some call the next president Obama, and the middle ground between the left-wing Sanders and the moderate Biden – fails to adequately address systemic flaws in the current administration. For example, Pete believes in affordable higher-level education but is opposed to free college. Free-college specifically has been a cornerstone of the Sanders campaign since 2016, demonstrating his perseverance in destroying the expansion of corporate power on American lives, and ending this negative feedback loop of wealth that benefits the one percent. Buttigieg, on the other hand, calls out big money donors, yet he holds fundraising events for Wall Street executives.
The way Trump got elected was by making promises that other Republicans chose not to. He claimed to side with workers and promised jobs. As a result, many who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and did not trust Hillary Clinton rolled the dice for Trump in an act of desperation. This is understandable. However, Bernie Sanders is offering a way forward for the very people Trump falsely promised to support. Sanders is fighting for workers and is a passionate policymaker who has detailed plans to reform the economy and enhance the lives and opportunities of the people.