Well, this is something new. I usually write funny nonsense or sci-fi short stories or a combination of both. I may discuss comic books, movies, or music, but I’ve shied away form one area of discussion: politics. Gods, I can hear you rolling your eyes at the very mention of the word. Politics. Ugh. So I’ll forgive you if you check out right now and browse elsewhere on the vast prairie of the interwebs. I completely understand. But if you have the gumption, or simply want a bit of insight into my personal beliefs, then read on.
A friend of mine asked me recently to explain to him my support of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America. He went so far as to throw down the gauntlet of “Convince me.” Wow. There’s a big difference between explaining your position and trying to compel the other party to change theirs. I’m not sure I’m up to that challenge. I don’t know if I’m eloquent enough. Maybe my words aren’t that great. But what I hope, what I believe, rather, is that by reading this, and reading all of it, maybe you’ll at least come to accept that my beliefs, my hopes, are not so crazy as perhaps you imagined.
Why do I support Bernie? Because I believe America is already pretty great…but I think it can be better. I think that we have to improve not only the lives of citizens (like me, for example. Like my brother. Like everyone, gay, straight, man, woman, Christian, atheist, Muslim, artist, worker, soldier, teacher…everyone.)
I support Bernie because Big Money has always run the show, realistically. But until the Reagan years (and yes, Bill Clinton played a part with the deregulation of the media companies and the NAFTA agreement), those entities were at least held in check. Now the corporations act with impunity. They beg for tax cuts, then move their factory overseas anyway. They bitch about raising the minimum wage, yet accept billions in bailouts (from OUR taxes) and reward their CEO’s with insane bonuses and salaries.
I support Bernie because he believes that if you have the money to send soldiers to war, then by God, you have the money to care for them when they return. Not just with medical care and such, but with mental health care. There’s an epidemic of our fighting men and women committing suicide or sleeping on the streets, and Big Money (and the Republican party that acts as Big Money’s political arm) not only don’t care, they hinder efforts to spend tax money on solving the problem. Yes, I know that some of those bills probably have pork or other attachments that make lawmakers balk, but it’s happened over and over and over.
I support Bernie because he tells it like it is. He speaks his mind. But unlike Trump, he does it 1) because he actually believes it, not because he figures it’s what the crowd wants to hear and 2) with dignity and grace, not scraping down to cater to ignorant, racist, homophobic, misogynistic pricks.
I support Bernie because he wants to use our taxes the way they were meant to be used. Not increasing taxes on you or me (or anyone not ‘rich’) but by allocating those taxes to where they need to go. Instead of a couple of billion for jets that are obsolete before they even enter the theater or another bailout and tax breaks to a multinational corporation , he’d use them to rebuild the bridges, dams, and highways that are not only out-of-date, but dangerously close to total collapse. And yes, he’d use that money for education. Speaking of which…
It’s not “free shit for everyone.” The state colleges would offer free tuition…but only to students that were accepted. You’d need to pass the same entrance exam, maintain the same GPA, do the same work as anyone else who had received a grant or scholarship. Don’t do all that? Buh-bye. Seeya. Collect your things and go. And the private schools would still be private. If you could afford them, hey, God bless. Go for it. Spend mommy and daddy’s inheritance on that sort of education. Good for you! But for the rest of us? It’s a chance to finally narrow the gap between ourselves and Japan or Germany. To have the best-educated workforce in the world. And on a personal note, it’s a scientific fact that the college-educated folks may not be smarter than the kids that stay in their hometown and get a job at the factory…but they are more tolerant. Respectful of other cultures. Less racist or homophobic. Why? Because they will have been exposed to all those things, different accents and skin tones, different dress and eating habits…in other words, the WORLD. And the more you know about the world, the less you fear it. And the less hate you harbor as a result. So, more college students = more cultural harmony.
And finally, let’s talk about healthcare. I’m not a huge fan of Obamacare. I think it’s a half-measure. I think it was a way to kiss the ass of the insurance companies (once again, Big Money calls the shots.) But I also have a friend who has insurance provided by her company, and she’s considering going back to part-time to work on other projects. I was concerned about her lack of insurance coverage. She told me “I’ll just go back to the ACA. It was better than what I have now, anyway.” Of course, that could be more an indictment of the standard of care offered by employers nowadays, or it could be that the ACA just really works out to be a great deal for a single mother of two (as is her case.) Either way, she wouldn’t have even had the option before Obamacare. But let’s take it further…
Say they raise my taxes to pay for Bernie’s universal healthcare. The good shit, the “show up at the emergency room, get your broken bone set, go home. No deductible, not co-pay…it’s just done” variety. The sort of thing they have in, you know…every other civilized country in the world. Every. One. Say I end up paying an additional 2.2% in taxes. Maybe my work pays me a bit less to pay for my proposed payroll tax. The fact remains: The typical family of four making $50,000 a year would pay less than $46 a month under Bernie’s plan for three months of paid family and medical leave and universal health care. (That’s from TIME magazine, January 28, 2016.) In other words, I’m coming out ahead. Also, The typical American family of four covered by an employer-sponsored health care plan paid $24,671 last year on health care costs alone, according to the non-partisan Milliman Medical Index. So, as it stands right now, they’re taking money out of my paycheck to pay for coverage…and I’m STILL paying a shitload in health costs. Maybe it’s not a big deal to people without kids. Maybe it’s not a big deal to rich people who can afford it. But to my family and me, that’s huge.
And the other thing to consider: say I end up actually losing money. Maybe I’m short about $3000 a year, all things being equal. That’s too bad. Perhaps I’ll have to skip playing hockey and forget about taking a vacation. But if it means that every single parent, every kid, every human being in the country has access to medical care when they need it, then, dude…that’s not even a question. Hell, take it. I’ll even chip in a bit more. That makes every taxpayer a big damn hero. That’s what society is supposed to be. That’s why we live in communities, why we have police, why we elect a mayor, a governor, a president, why there’s a highway system, air traffic controllers, and a standing army: because it’s us. Not me. We’re all in this together.
So, in conclusion, I’ll answer your question. Why Bernie? Because I want to live in a better world. I want my kids to have a better opportunity. I want the people to reclaim some of the power from the corporations. I want freedom and equality for every human being in the United States of America. Right now, Bernie Sanders offers the best possible hope of beginning the process that moves us towards those things. It won’t be easy. It won’t all happen right away, especially as Big Money pushes back hard and exerts its force on politics. But it can happen. And it must happen if we are to survive as a nation, rather than a bunch of individuals fighting one another for the scraps thrown our way by Big Money.