Judgment, Judgment, Humanity, Integrity, Courage, etc… and Judgment

Listening, on YouTube, to just one lucid, passionate, and heartfelt speech of Bernie Sanders at Santa Cruz, CA, on May 31st 2016 provides more than ten reasons to vote for him, but I start with ten.

  1. He’s for reforming a corrupt political system in which candidates rely on contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals, then return the favor by working for them. Logically, how could they not? Which is why the campaign promises of such candidates are often compromised or abandoned. Bernie launched a political revolution merely by refusing contributions from corporations or Wall Street, and showing us that it was possible. Will we make his miracle reach its logical fulfilment?
  2. He’s With Us. ALL of us, except the 1 percent*. He’s calling for America to be a true democracy, with “a government that listens to us, not just to the 1 percent.” This is a fundamental principle of democracy (a government of the people), in contrast to the de facto plutocracy America now is, its government working for the wealthy few at the expense of everyone else. He’s also right to challenge the Democratic Party’s nomination process as rigged, corrupt, and unfair (300,000 voters were disenfranchised in Brooklyn alone): it’s a matter of integrity for him not to give up the fight for his principles, for the cause, which is bigger than him or any individual, including Hillary Clinton. What if Mahatma Gandhi had decided to call off the independence struggle because some people were getting hurt, or because a few minor democratic concessions had been made by the British?
  3. Economy: He got it right when Alan Greenspan didn’t. As a mere Congressman in 1999 and 2003, he challenged Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan on the economy, warning that his policies (low minimum wage, transfer of manufacturing jobs to the Third World) would be catastrophic. It turned out Sanders was right, while economic wizard Greenspan was wrong. Why? Judgment, and being in close touch with common people. As Jordan Chanton points out, he’s not a pie-in-the-sky revolutionary, but an FDR Democrat. It’s a sign of how Republicans have so changed the dialogue that espousing FDR’s positions is now considered “leftist” or “pie-in-the-sky.”
  4. Foreign Policy: Intelligence and Good Judgment. He got it right on Iraq, Libya, and much else. Far better than Hilary Clinton’s experience (for which she can list far more blunders than specific personal achievements), Sanders has what’s much more important in a Commander-in-Chief: common sense and the judgment not to embark on reckless, un-winnable wars. Why? Because he asks the right questions, isn’t afraid to challenge authority or the consensus. A humane, non-interventionist US president will do more for peace, will generate fewer new terrorists than our present aggressive, militaristic policy is doing (according to Noam Chomsky).
  5. He believes that “Health care is a right of all people, not a privilege.” We’re the only advanced nation without free universal healthcare for all its citizens. He also calls for free and immediate treatment, “without having to fill out 50 forms,” for mentally disturbed people in a crisis.
  6. Fixing “a broken criminal justice system.” Compassionate, humane, Sanders points out that the US has more people in prison (2.2 million) than any other country, including Russia and China. Inhumane prison conditions, harsh or unnecessary prison sentences do not solve the problem of crime; they perpetuate it. He’s against corporate ownersship of prisons, and for police departments reflecting the diversity of the populations they serve.
  7. “Addiction and drug abuse are not criminal issues but health issues.” He promised to take a “new look at so-called War on Drugs.” The intelligent consensus has been that the war on drugs has been an expensive disaster.
  8. He’s reaching out to ALL groups (except to the selfish, greedy 1 percent): black and white, first generation immigrants, undocumented immigrants, gay and straight, men and women. He’s not pandering to specific groups, as Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton (implicitly) are.
  9. Immigration Reform: Ending current policy of deportation and giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, because currently they have no rights, and employers can rip them off. Consider that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are hardworking, law-abiding persons no more “un-documented” than Columbus or the immigrants from the Mayflower; and that they live lives of fear, poverty, and shameful exploitation. This is unnecessary and immoral, and Bernie Sanders has the understanding and the heart to change that: his parents were poor immigrants, after all.
  10. He will defeat Trump, Hilary could lose. Why settle for cynical, lesser-of-two-evils defeatism? No electable alternative candidate comes anywhere near him in integrity and public trust. Not Hilary Clinton, with her multiple cases of bad judgment and her issues of trust and honesty; even without potentially damaging revelations of Wall Street speeches or the FBI case against her, she is tied or losing to Trump in many national polls; whereas Sanders is beating him by 8-15 percentage points.

Ten sounds like a good enough number; it has a nice ring to it. However, in case you disagree with a few of the above, here are a few more:

  1. $15 minimum wage: without it, people cannot afford to support their families. Even Australia has a minimum wage of over $16.
  2. Rebuilding the Inner Cities, because how come we can spend trillions on destructive wars, but not afford to rebuild our own Inner cities and broken infrastructure?
  3. Foreign Policy: He’s the only presidential candidate in modern history to stand up to the powerful pro-Israel lobby and to ask that the Palestinians be treated with dignity. He can, because of his moral courage and integrity, and because it would be absurd to accuse a descendant of a family that lost many of its members to the Holocaust of being anti-Semitic. Uncoupling U.S. foreign policy from Israel’s would make America less militaristic, and more trusted worldwide for its fairness and balance; it would carry moral weight.
  4. He wants us to stop fracking, respect the environment, guarantee clean water. “Climate change is real.”
  5. Tuition-free public universities and colleges. Because education and access to education matter, and it is against the democratic principle of equality to deny some people a fair chance at life just because their parents were poor.
  1. He genuinely is one of Us, the 99 percent. After all these years in public service, the last ten as a Senator, his net worth is a mere $700,000 (approximately what Clinton made from 3 speeches), whereas the Clintons, with a combined net worth of around $200 million, are closer to the billionaire class, like Trump. And because Sanders is one of us, his passion for issues that affect the common people is authentic, not an expedient ruse to get elected. Unlike Hilary Clinton, who has changed her positions on nearly everything from gay marriage to the minimum wage, everything Sanders has done since the days of his anti-segregation protests is a logical outcome of deeply held principles of fairness, decency, and compassion and proves that he’s a man of immense integrity. (And, as the world mourns for Muhammad Ali and revisits his life, I realize that Ali, a man of integrity and honor who stood his ground, stood for many of the same principles that Bernie Sanders stands for.)
  2. No Baggage: Finally, unlike Obama, he’ll never be asked to produce his birth certificate or his Harvard degree, or be accused of being Muslim. And, unlike Hillary, the likelihood of scandals amd mistrust dogging his presidency is close to zero. So much more time for making a better America and getting on with his program.

Possible objections?

How will Bernie pay for his proposals? By increasing taxes on the super-rich and on Wall Street speculation, and only taking back a portion of the excess wealth they’ve generated in the last few years thanks to unequal tax policies (major corporations paying zero taxes, for example, because of tax breaks).

His Age: Would you really make an age-ist distinction between a 69-year-old and a 74-year-old? What matters is his striking mental clarity and that in a debate, and in his grasp of the issues, he’s sharp, he’s better than Hillary.

Please tweet the link to this blog post along with the hashtag: #HesWithUs .

*Note: “The 1 percent” is a generalization. There are always a few outstanding exceptions.