​Bernie Sanders, in 2020, with the social justice warriors


Jakob Benedetti – Staff Writer

I know what you’re thinking: here we go again. It seems like only yesterday I was waiting up late to see the final results of Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, and here we are now about to start the same process all over again.

But however annoying or repetitive this business of politics and voting may be to you, it’s important to understand that the outcomes of all elections that you’re able to vote in have a direct impact on your daily life. You may not know it yet, but it’s true. Whether or not Trump wins reelection, hell, whether or not your mayor or state legislator wins reelection is going to have an impact on the biggest issues facing our society. A looming climate change crisis; continuously widening inequality; a political system in need of significant reform; a broken, racist criminal justice system; and crumbling infrastructure are all urgent issues.

Which is why, for those of us serious about dealing with these issues in a proactive way, choosing a presidential candidate who will address them without fear of how the establishment or mainstream media will react is critical. I believe the candidate who best fits this description is Sen. Bernie Sanders.

​            I’m supporting Bernie not because of who he is, but because of what he stands for and what he’s been fighting for his entire life. When Sen. Sanders was in college he participated in protests and civil disobedience as part of the Civil Rights Movement—he was even arrested on one occasion for his activism, and chaining himself to fellow activists on another. He also marched with Dr. King in Washington and attended the “I Have A Dream” speech. As someone who is incensed with the resurgence of overtly anti-Semitic and racist political speech (see: Charlottesville or the Donald Trump campaign for President), I believe we need someone who has a deep background in fighting for civil rights and racial equality, not only when it suits their immediate political interest but throughout their entire life.

I understand that some people have criticized Sanders for appearing, in 2016, to focus on economic injustice rather than racial inequality, however, I would contend that racial justice and particularly criminal justice reform and protecting voting rights have always been a key part of his platform. Although it’s true that his stump speeches tend to focus on economic issues like the need for universal healthcare or pro-worker trade policies, what detractors often leave out is that securing economic justice will by definition disproportionately help people of color who have been left on average poorer than whites by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

If anything, we should be questioning why other candidates have only just now seemingly come around to Sander’s positions on economic issues despite claiming to have always been supporters of racial equality. You can’t have one without the other, something Sanders has clearly understood all along.

Furthermore, Sanders is the strongest candidate on key economic issues that would have a massive, positive impact on the lives of all working and middle-class people in this country. Medicare for All would save families and businesses money while providing healthcare to all people as a right and lowering the cost of prescription drugs and healthcare overall. Making public colleges and technical schools tuition-free would significantly ease the debt burden that students have to carry and improve access to higher education for those with good enough grades. Ending the war on drugs and legalizing marijuana would do much to fix the criminal justice system, while also raising money. And reversing the Trump tax cuts and enacting progressive tax reform would provide enough money to fund greater public investment in these policies and others to improve our country while tackling the growing problem of income inequality. Sanders has also been a longtime advocate of the Green New Deal and serious climate action in general, which is sure to be a major issue.

            I understand that there is still a lot of trepidation among liberals and leftists about Sanders, despite his lifetime of fighting for progressive causes even when no one else in the Democratic Party would. But in my opinion, it seems that Sanders is already the leader of the Democratic Party. It was he who brought Medicare-for-All, $15 minimum wage, free college and the Green New Deal to the forefront of Democratic politics. It was he who inspired thousands of people across the country to get involved in politics and run for office for the first time, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It was he who got pay raises for Amazon and Disney workers. And it was he, along with Rep. Ro Khanna, who started the conversation on ending the War in Yemen. Bernie Sanders may not be the only progressive running for president, but he’s the only one who’s been consistent in his views for his whole life, and I’m proud to say he’s the first presidential candidate I’ll be voting for.