Feel the Bern

Will Slater and Philip Hinkes Untitled To fully understand why Bernie Sanders is the best presidential candidate for the 2016 election, we must first examine the successes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd president, and compare the two. In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt inherited a United States engulfed in The Great Depression. The national GDP had been cut in half, unemployment had remained stubbornly in the 20 percent range for years, and millions of workers faced oppression due to insufficient wages and unsuitable working environments. Despite Republican and moderate Democrat (who preferred more conservative action) opposition, FDR proposed a series of radical legislation to protect workers, reformed the banking sector, and provided needed relief to the poor with new government subsidies. These acts would be known as The New Deal, and they would define FDR’s vision of a Second Bill of Rights. At the time of its implementation, FDR’s critics (from both parties) labeled his policies “excessive government,” “impractical,” and, of course, “socialist.” Nowadays, we can look back and see just how wrong the pundits were. The New Deal pulled us out of the Great Depression, spawning decades of prosperity for the middle class. The New Deal put people back to work, creating the U.S. war machine that would win WWII. The New Deal’s popularity is what would get Roosevelt elected to a record four terms. FDR, by definition, was a social democrat. The America he created was capitalist, sure, but was supported by socialist policies and ideals. It is strange that Americans are so often offended by socialism, as it is very much part of our national identity and what we look towards in times of peril.   Moreover, The similarities between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bernie Sanders are eerie. Both men came to prominence in times of unprecedented income inequality. Both men have faced opposition from political elites or the “big money” of politics. Both men have even been ostracized by members of their own party for being “too radical.” In fact, every one of Bernie’s “radical” plans for America can be tied back to FDR’s Second Bill of Rights. A jobBernie’s Rebuild America Act creates 13 million well paying jobs over the next ten years while rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure (paid for by taxing corporate offshore income, generating 100 billion a year according to the Congressional Research Service). An Adequate Wage- Bernie proposes raising the minimum wage to a living wage of 15 dollars an hour. A Decent Home- At the first democratic debate, the candidates were asked “what is the greatest threat to the United States?” Bernie Sanders was the only candidate to answer correctly: Climate Change. Bernie’s green initiatives will combat climate change and create jobs in the process. Sanders is also the only candidate determined to end subsidies and tax breaks for oil and fossil fuel companies. He will keep earth a “decent” place to live. Medical Care- Bernie’s Medicare for all plan guarantees healthcare as a right. By raising taxes slightly, a Medicare for all plan could save the United States billions of dollars each year. Economic protection during sickness, accident, old age, or unemployment- Bernie proposes twelve weeks of paid maternity leave, better protected pensions, and an expanded social security. All of these laws will protect Americans in times of weakness. A Good Education- A high school education used to give people the skills they needed to thrive in the United States, but now a college education is necessary to succeed. That’s why Bernie Sanders proposes free college for EVERYONE, an act that is paid for by imposing a small tax on wall street speculations. Studies show every dollar spent on education is worth seven down the road. FDR’s policies worked, so shouldn’t the near identical policies of Bernie Sanders have equal success in a similarly troubled time? On many issues, Sanders is considered a radical – he has been for his entire career. In recent decades, his so-called radicalism manifested itself in his opposition to the Iraq War, his insistence on civil rights for all, and his criticism of Wall Street leading up to the financial collapse of 2008. It would seem that Sanders never has been a radical so to speak, but a man with an apt sense of the workings of our country, and a vision that is merely ahead of curve. As Sanders had made a point of not attacking Hillary Clinton, neither shall we, but it is worth noting that on the issues listed above, the former Secretary of State sits on the wrong side of history.   There is a common conviction that Sanders is less electable than Clinton, but when thought of through a historical lens in which progressives are rewarded, this seems ridiculous. It may appear true that in the Democratic primary, establishment candidates win more often. In a sense, this is true, but it’s also misleading, because a candidate like Bernie Sanders is rare. For instance, in 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were both liberal, but were more traditional candidates ideologically. The point is that Sanders can’t be written off simply because he is a new type of contender. The American people clearly don’t have any reservations about him in a general election, as he trends favorably to Clinton in polls against top conservative candidates. Clearly, hyper-liberalism is much more familiar and preferable to hyper-conservatism.   In the dawn of 1933, a defining age for mankind, Franklin Roosevelt challenged Americans to have courage. “The only thing we have to fear,” he promised, “is fear itself.” These words that rung in World War II, and throughout American history, embody everything America strives to symbolize. Our promise to ourselves is that we shall not be afraid in times of tumult, that we shall persevere in a way only Americans can. In his iconic address, Roosevelt went on to say that, “In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.” Bernie Sanders is a fearless, bold candidate, and alongside an awakened American public, he will lead us out of our dark hour.]]>