Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2020 – The Year That Will Shape the Future of the Democratic Party

Our guest blogger shares his well-researched reasoning on why he supports the senator from Vermont. What do you say about The Independent Reformist's insights on the future of the Democratic Party? Is it a "make or break" year for them if they don't nominate Bernie Sanders? For the US as a whole if Bernie isn't allowed to run for the White House?

2020 – The Year That Will Shape the Future of the Democratic Party: Why I Support Bernie Sanders
by The Independent Reformist


Let me preface this article by stating a couple of things for the sake of clarity:
  1. I have no intention of slandering or disrespecting other candidates or their voter base. I believe it is counter-productive and a good way to alienate those whom you may potentially bring to your side in the general election.
  2. I understand that some may support different candidates. That is your right and I respect it. That said, please note that this is my opinion and I hope that you will at least consider what is being said in a fair and honest manner, regardless of where your allegiance lie afterwards.
With this out of the way, I would like to outline the reasons why I support Sanders in 2020, as I did in 2016.

I think that the summation of the campaign slogan “Not Me, Us!” encapsulates why I am a Sanders voter. I am voting for a future that is comparatively of less consequence to me than it is to younger voters. With that being said, we must think beyond our own individuality and consider the countless others who are not in our shoes.

Income Inequality & College Debt
It is hard enough to try to get ahead in this world. We all have to work to put food on the table, and ensure that basic needs are met. Now imagine trying to get a start in life where most jobs that pay a decent wage require a college degree.  Sure, you can get a scholarship, if you make the cut for the limited scholarships available. If you don’t, then you have to take out a loan.

The common answer from older voters is “Well, I had to do it too,” but have you considered that the cost for a college education has skyrocketedeven when compared to the cost of living?
College_tuition_1978-2010 Wikicommons

Just to get a decent start in life, the current generation has to take on debt that has inflated 2.5 times the value of a home and basic cost of living between 1978 to 2010. This effectively puts them in a massive hole that they will need to work their way out of.

To make matters worse, according to an article written by Abigail Hess from CNBC:
As 2019 comes to a close, for many doing a review of their finances, the decade will likely be defined by student debt.
Today, some 44 million Americans collectively hold nearly $1.6 trillion in student debt. Given that there are approximately 242 million Americans over the age of 18, that means that roughly 18% of American adults are paying off student loans.
These rates are even higher among young people. According to the Federal Reserve, over half of young adults who went to college in 2018 took on debt.
At the end of 2009, Americans held roughly $772 billion in student loans. By the end of 2019, that total had spiked to nearly $1.6 trillion — that’s an increase of roughly 107%.
Reference: Student debt increased by 107 this decade, Federal Reserve data shows – by Abigail Hess – https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/30/student-debt-totals-increased-by-107percent-this-decade.html
To make matters worse, they are still looking at an income rate that has largely been stagnant since the 1970s. Yet the top 5 percent of earners income has gone up dramatically in comparison. In light of all of these facts, how can we expect them to simply accept things as they are? Better yet, why do we as a society continue to accept it?
512px-Income Gains - CPBB

Also as a result of the bad trade deals like NAFTA, the American manufacturing base, especially in the Midwest (Rust Belt) is virtually non-existent. Automation is also eating into low skilled and redundant work, so the pool of jobs is getting smaller. As direct result, the pool of competitors for jobs rises and the employers can pay employees less.

In summary, if the young average worker has to spend a good chunk of their lifetime working out of debt because of college loans, they are already going to have less disposable income. If there is no upward mobility in wages as cost of living increases, they have even less. How can an economy not be stagnant when the working class has no disposable income (if they even have an income) to buy products? This matters because the consumer, not the business person, is the gas that fuels the economy.

The $15 an hour minimum wage that Sanders dragged into the mainstream is a start. There still have to be opportunities, and they need to have real relief from crushing loan debt. The only solutions, other than “We can’t do that,” has come from Senators Sanders and Warren and Andrew Yang. Sanders' goal, in my opinion is more ambitious where it forgives college loan debt and makes state run colleges and universities tuition free. The latter alleviates the burden on future generations.

Include Senator Sanders federal jobs initiative and you have more of a pool of opportunities for workers. It will have the additional impact of decreasing the pool of employees which can force private industry to offer more competitive wages for talent.

The Future of Humanity is at Stake
The worst effects of climate change are still to come, but half measures will get us nowhere. If we don’t take serious action, we could leave future generations a planet that is hostile to human life. Being in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby via campaign donations risks watering down efforts to aggressively change to more sustainable energy.

Our effects on our ecosystem is no longer debatable. There is scientific consensus that humanity’s effect on the ecosystem is measurable and evident.
The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.1
Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate.
The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century.2 Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.
Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.3
Reference: https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
The role of adults in society is to try guide the next generation in a manner that gives them a chance at a better future than the previous generations had. We also owe them and subsequent generations a habitable world that they can pass on to their progeny. This isn’t just an United States thing. This is an “all of humanity” thing. It’s global.

Just one campaign cycle ago, Senator Sanders declared the top threat to national security being climate change. At the time, many laughed. Now in 2020 more people are parroting the line. Once again showing Senator Sanders was out front, before most of the rest of our leaders in Washington D.C.

The time for half-measures is over. If we are to be good custodians of our world, and the future of humanity we must be serious about climate change. I believe that Sanders is as serious about combating climate change as they come.

Racial and Social Justice
It is easy to look at the current field and note that they are all white people. The News media certainly reminds us enough. What it doesn’t mention is that Senator Sanders is Jewish. Both of his father's parents were lost in the Holocaust.

He is not the kind of person to go out of his way to bring it up, but when asked about it in a 2016 CNN interview the exchange went as follows:
Sanders could be the first Jewish U.S. president ever elected, though he has repeatedly described himself as a secular Jew without strong ties to organized religion. 
Jewish political activists, historians and pollsters have said Sanders’ minority faith has also been overlooked because the national attitude toward Jews has evolved to the point where there’s no stigma attached to the religion or culture. 
Sanders’ comments on his Judaism were in response to CNN’s Anderson Cooper asking him if he is intentionally keeping his Judaism in the background , after an audience member asked Sanders whether he believed God to be relevant, to which Sanders responded, “yes.” 
Reference: CNN Politics, Bernie Sanders: ‘My fathers family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust’ by Daniella Diaz
Understanding these facts can help understand why Bernie took the stand that he did during the civil rights movement. It’s easier to relate to other ethnic groups and marginalized communities when you are a descendant of a marginalized community yourself.

Without going into all of the details in this article (which is lengthy enough), I will reference a Mother Jones article about Sanders in the Civil Rights Era.
During Sanders’ first year in Chicago, a group of apartment-hunting white and black students had discovered that off-campus buildings owned by the university were refusing to rent to black students, in violation of the school’s policies. CORE organized a 15-day sit-in at the administration building, which Sanders helped lead. (James Farmer, who co-founded CORE and had been a Freedom Rider with Lewis, came to the University of Chicago that winter to praise the activists’ work.) The protest ended when George Beadle, the university’s president, agreed to form a commission to study the school’s housing policies... He continued his activism with CORE and SNCC. In August of 1963, not long after returning to Chicago from the March on Washington, Sanders was charged with resisting arrest after protesting segregation at a school on the city’s South Side. He was later fined $25, according to the Chicago Tribune:
Reference: Mother Jones, Here’s What Bernie Sanders Actually Did in the Civil Rights Movement” by Tim Murphy
He has also taken a stand for LGBTQ rights in the 1970s. Politifact referenced Chuck Todd’s comment about Senator Sanders stance as follows:
Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, focused on same-sex marriage during an interview with Clinton on Sept. 27, 2015.
“Bernie Sanders has been where you are on these issues,” Todd said. “Bernie Sanders was there when it came to marriage 20 years ago. Do you think one of the reasons he’s doing well right now is some progressives think, ‘Well, you know what? He was there when it wasn’t popular.’”

Todd said Sanders was “there” on same-sex marriage 20 years ago, but we found evidence pointing back even further.
In the early 1970s, Sanders ran for governor of Vermont under the banner of the Liberty Union party, a coalition of leftist groups. The party platform called for making taxes tougher on corporations and lighter on families, an end to the Vietnam War and a number of measures to get government out of people’s private lives.
“The Liberty Union believe that there are entirely too many laws that regulate human behavior,” Sanders wrote in an open letter. “Let us abolish all laws which attempt to impose a particular brand of morality or ‘right’ on people. Let’s abolish all laws dealing with abortion, drugs, sexual behavior (adultery, homosexuality, etc.).”
Reference: Politifact, “NBC’s Chuck Todd: Bernie Sanders was there on same-sex marriage 20 years ago” by Jon Greenberg – https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2015/sep/29/chuck-todd/nbcs-chuck-todd-bernie-sanders-there-same-sex-marr/
There is a reference to the original letter, but unfortunately it is a broken link. However, the same platform can be found here:
Bernie's 1972 Lette Liberty Union Platform - The New Republic

Some might argue that he didn’t perfectly meet the modern bar. Perhaps so. But there are many who were around in that era who didn’t even meet his bar.  I think a fan made video sums it up nicely, using the speech given by Killer Mike:

Video by GoodNightProductions – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ikgh4JbAWUU

I would rather have someone who at least will honestly take a stand when times are hard, than someone who only says the right things when it is convenient or politically expedient.

A Candidate Who Means What He Says and Says What He Means
I often say that “You can’t possibly mean what you say, if you don’t say precisely what you mean.” Words have meaning, and how you use them have consequences. We currently live in a time where “Doublespeak” is the norm. Where being duplicitous is completely expected, especially when it comes to politics.

There was a time where speaking openly and honestly was refreshing and welcomed. Yet our jaded sensibilities have allowed us to give up of honesty. You can look at what Senator Sanders says and compare it to his track record in life and politics to find he is remarkably consistent. He has stood for these policies for decades, most notably in the decades when it was not popular, and he was one of the lone voices in the wilderness.
When Bernie said, “We need to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour,” in 2016 everyone in the establishment said we can’t do it. Now it’s mainstream. When Bernie said, “We need to have Medicare for all,” in 2016, the establishment said that’s crazy. Now it’s mainstream. When Bernie said, “I am going to run on a grassroots funded campaign without big donors,” in 2016 the media said it would never work. Now he is a fundraising juggernaut rivaled only by Trump and Bloomberg, but the difference is Bernie is running solely on small dollar contributions from working class people like us.

I could continue on with health care and the need to bring the Democratic Party back to FDR principles. I could go on about how the power brokers in the party have ignored the Midwest until election time and then forgets them just as quickly. I can talk about how the Flint Water Crisis still needs resolution, and how the DNC hasn’t addressed it outside of campaign talking points, but this article is quite long enough. The bottom line is we need and frankly deserve a leader who works for us!

Make no mistake, he’s not perfect. No one is. But when compared to the numerous other candidates his rhetoric and actions, few (if any) have been more consistent than Senator Sanders. It’s easy to say something when things are popular. It’s easy to fight for something when everyone, including entrenched power is on your side. The true mettle of a person is measured when they take a stand when an idea is well outside of the mainstream.

I stand with the candidate who fights for the the alienated, the discriminated and the decimated. Say what you will, but in my opinion that is Senator Bernie Sanders. Unbossed. Unbought. Unbroken.

Image, Not Me Us Rally picture, by Mark Dixon – https://www.flickr.com/photos/9602574@N02/25300155296
Image, College Tuition vs Home Prices vs CPI – Wikicommons – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:College_tuition
Student debt increased by 107 this decade, Federal Reserve data shows – by Abigail Hess – https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/30/student-debt-totals-increased-by-107percent-this-decade.html
Image Graph Real Family Income between 1947 and 2018, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/a-guide-to-statistics-on-historical-trends-in-income-inequality
Image, Temperature Anomaly Common Baseline 1951-2019,  NASA – https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
Climate change references,  NASA, Global Clmate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet – https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
CNN Politics, Bernie Sanders: ‘My fathers family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust’ by Daniella Diaz – https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/07/politics/democratic-debate-jewish-bernie-sanders-cnn-flint-michigan/index.html
Mother Jones, “Here’s What Bernie Sanders Actually Did in the Civil Rights Movement” by Tim Murphy https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/02/bernie-sanders-core-university-chicago/
Politifact, “NBC’s Chuck Todd: Bernie Sanders was there on same-sex marriage 20 years ago” by Jon Greenberg – https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2015/sep/29/chuck-todd/nbcs-chuck-todd-bernie-sanders-there-same-sex-marr/
Image, “A Letter from Bernie Sanders”, The New Republic, “Bernie Sanders Was Just Another hippie Rummaging Through My Mom’s Fridge” by Chelsea G. Summers – https://newrepublic.com/article/122005/he-was-presidential-candidate-bernie-sanders-was-radical
Video by: GoodNightProductions, Bernie Sanders Ad (Killer Mike Speech) The Time is Now – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ikgh4JbAWUU
Image, Bernie Sanders, Wikimedia Commons by Gage Skidmore – – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bernie_Sanders_by_Gage_Skidmore.jpg

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