On Tuesday November 8, 2016, Americans will again go to the polls and choose between Republicans and Democrats to run the country, this time deciding on the next president. President Obama’s successor most definitely will come from one of these two parties in what looks to become the most expensive election cycle in U.S. history. And like Obama, the next president will have to be a media sensation with a youthful look and catchy motto and be a corporate pawn. And, the next president won’t have many new ideas and will do nothing to stop this perpetual oscillation of politics in Washington, today. But there is an alternative: Bernie Sanders, the Independent, U.S. senator from Vermont. Here are 5 reasons to consider him as an alternative in 2016:
He’s an independent: A self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders has identified as an independent since his days as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont starting in 1981. To assume that mayorship, he beat out both the Democratic and Republican candidates in that election, and he has never lost an election since. The more important element to consider, however, is that according to Gallup, 42% of Americans now identify as independents. This is the highest recorded level of independents ever in the U.S. and it outranks the Democrats who stand at 31% and the Republicans who recorded a measly 25% of the general voting public. There is a feeling sweeping across the country that the two parties that run the show in Washington have not been doing an adequate job for some time and a change is needed. Sanders’ views obviously are far-left and he tends to caucus with the Democrats, but his positions have the power to fire up the leftist progressives but still appeal to some moderates on the right.
He’s old (and wise): In 2016, Sanders will be 75 years old, and if he is elected will become the oldest president ever (Ronald Reagan was elected at 69). But age is always relative, because wisdom is more important. He has extensive political experience having served as Burlington’s mayor for 8 years, was a member of the House of Representatives for 16, and since 2007 has been a U.S. senator. This politician knows the system very well, but more importantly has been in Congress when it functioned on a bi-partisan basis. Having served in both houses of Congress, he knows the political games but also knows how to satisfy his constituents, considering he was able to get Vermont’s support (as an independent) for the senate seat. What more experience and wisdom does a future president need having served in both houses and remaining consistent to his ideology since 1981?
He’s a socialist: Despite its negative connotation in the U.S., we are a socialist nation. Medicare, Medicaid, and now Obamacare are national healthcare plans; the FDA verifies that your food is safe; the roads we drive on are regulated and funded by the government; public libraries provide free books, music, and movies; and the Veterans Affairs (whose chairman is Sanders himself) provides overwhelming support for returning soldiers. These are certainly things we take for granted but are by definition socialist programs. The U.S., as a country, is by no means on the far left in terms of socialism but these programs do exist and help millions of people every year. Sanders has consistently voted to continue funding these programs and has vehemently opposed tax cuts for the 1%, most famously in 2010 when he stood on the Senate floor for 8½ hours lambasting the Obama tax cuts. (A full transcript of this speech can be found here. Below is the last half hour of this speech) Sanders, himself, supports a Scandinavian form of socialism, a form that provides free education and healthcare for everyone and features things such as a 52-week, paid maternity leave and free childcare for working mothers. Again, these are not things that many Americans would oppose when put into practice. But, as a socialist he understands that the top 1% need to be taxed higher to pay for the social programs that so many Americans rely on. He understands that corporate welfare actually eliminates jobs for the middle class and sends them overseas.
He’s against corporate personhood: Those unfamiliar to the 2010 Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will be reminded that this case ruled in favor of equating corporations to individuals; thus, all corporations now have unlimited spending power when it comes to campaign contributions, protected by the First Amendment. Sanders, as an Independent, is strongly opposed to this idea and understands that money should have no business influencing the political process, as many Americans would probably agree. Essentially, the Supreme Court has enabled corporations to buy out Congress and the White House, and only the Supreme Court, whose members are appointed by the president, can overturn this ruling. Sanders might be one of the last few members of Congress who, as president, could influence the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, preventing the U.S. from spiraling farther into an oligarchy.
He wants to fix our ailing infrastructure: Part of his 8½-hour tirade on the Senate floor in 2010 also included an appropriate railing against the lack of federal effort to fix the U.S.’s deteriorating infrastructure. Sanders realizes that improving our infrastructure is a jobs program. Cars, trains, and airplanes all rely on government-funded infrastructure, and these are all things Americans use on a daily basis.
So come November 8, 2016, consider writing in Bernie Sanders’ name for president, since chances are the corporations won’t let him be on the ticket for the Democratic Party.
Watch Bernie Sanders on a panel explaining the 2014 midterm elections: