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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Election 2020: A case for Bernie Sanders

I must admit that I am reluctant to choose a candidate to support. None of the Democratic candidates should be anyone’s be-all-end-all for the presidency, for the stakes are too high. Frankly, any one of the candidates would be better than President Trump.

As the 2020 election roars ahead, many of the candidates are championing ambitious policies like universal healthcare and the fair distribution of wealth via increased taxes on the rich. These positions are quite popular, as the majority of Americans believe that everyone has a right to healthcare and that it’s unfair that just three people have as much wealth as the bottom half of all Americans.

Paying for all these wonderful policies is still up in the air, however. Even though Bernie Sanders, unlike Elizabeth Warren, was honest about the increases in taxes on the middle class that would come with his presidency, it is still hard to believe that such an increase would finance his trillion dollar policies. In fact, I am not convinced by any of the candidates’ plans for financing their goals. The United States is barely holding on to Social Security, yet we expect national healthcare, paid family leave, free public college, and student loan debt forgiveness to somehow be paid for. These policies are needed, of course, but as citizens of this great nation, we must be pragmatic about our financial standing.

Despite these reservations, the reason why I am so intrigued by Bernie Sanders is that for 30 years, he has been fighting for the working class with the same language, the same fervor, and the same scraggly hair. Although I am proud that the Democratic party has the most moxie, calling out the absurdity of bankruptcies caused by medical bills and widening income inequality, the party must give credit where credit is due. Bernie Sanders is campaigning on a goldmine of consistency. Youtube is infested with vintage videos of Senator Sanders pointing out the shortcomings of the American system, such as a 1986 video of him admonishing billionaire excess during the Reagan years or a 1988 video of him speaking about crippling student debt caused by rising college tuition. In 2016, Bernie was considered a bold and brash outsider for even mentioning such matters. Now, he’s just seen as the white, male alternative to Elizabeth Warren. This is a perception that the Democratic party should not let voters get away with.

Granted, ferociously fighting for healthcare and other ambitious policies for more than 30 years does not guarantee an easy implementation, or implementation at all. As election day gradually comes closer, we cannot continue to pretend that, if a Democrat wins in 2020, the Mitch McConnells of the Senate and Congress, along with private insurance and pharmaceutical companies, will suddenly raise their white flag. They will still be around voting and lobbying unfavorably. Healthcare alone, without private supplemental insurance, could take years to accomplish, possibly outlasting two terms.

However, the principle still stands. If it were not for Bernie Sanders, half of the candidates running would not even perceive universal healthcare as a priority. In January of 2019, Senator Kamala Harris was in favor of eliminating private insurance: “The idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company…Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.” Now, she has taken a moderate position, suddenly in favor of medicare for all, but with private supplemental insurance—an obvious flip-flop.

Flip-flopping is not in Bernie’s playbook. He has consistently championed medicare for all, without supplemental private insurance. He has reliably called out the predatory behavior of Wall Street, the millionaires, and billionaires. He was honest about increasing taxes on the middle class to help pay for health coverage and free tuition. Consistent, honest, and reliable—not the first words that tend to come to mind when describing a career politician. However, these three adjectives accurately apply to Vermont Senator and 2020 presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.

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