Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why you should vote for Sanders: possibly not the reason you thought

If you're one of my friends then statistically speaking you're already voting for Bernie Sanders.  But if you happen to be an outlier, then I'd like to offer a reason why you really should vote for Bernie Sanders in your state's primary.  It's because his candidacy has a forced attention on to critical issues going on in our country and we all are benefiting more the longer this discussion goes.  I think that even if you don't actually agree with Bernie Sanders, you still might agree that the attention being paid to things like income inequality and the roles that our political parties play in modern politics is long overdue.

Right now I'm assuming that if you aren't already voting for Sanders it's because you've considered his strengths and weaknesses against those of Hillary Clinton and you've concluded one or more of the following: either he's too liberal for you or he's too liberal to get elected.

Although I disagree, I won't dispute these points because they're irrelevant.  You should vote for Sanders anyway.  Because voting for him isn't really about whether you want him to be president or not.

Voting is a tricky process because many people find it hard to understand how to use it to guide the country.  Many people focus on the general presidential election.  Though the presidential election is important, it is the place in which we all have the least ability to express our political will.  We always have two choices between radically different philosophies, and since the Republican nominees have gotten further and further from the mainstream for many of us the general election only offers one choice that we can even tolerate, if that.  How can I communicate what I think are the most important issues when all I have is one choice to choose from?

Primaries offer a much greater opportunity to express our interests.  With multiple candidates there is a much greater likelihood that one of them will share some of our beliefs.  By voting for such a candidate we have some chance of making the one choice in the general election actually resemble what we support.

But we still face a major obstacle.  We still need someone in the primary to actually reflect our views.  If you have 20 candidates running for president and none of them share your particular view, then you're S.O.L.  This is why America's policy with regard to Israel, for example, has remained unaffected by decades of shifting in political power.  Democrat or Republican, pretty much every candidate has the same stance on Israel, so there was no lever to pull that would result in a president that might address Israeli security in a different way.

This is one of the most frustrating limitations to democracy:  that we can only express ourselves as well as the available candidates for office allow.

But:  there is actually a way in which we can work around this limitation.  It happens to be very slow, though.

If you are further to the left on some issue than all available choices, when you vote in a primary for the candidate closest to your position, you communicate to politicians that there are votes to be had in that direction.

So let's consider Bernie Sanders.  The reason that he is such a phenomenon among his supporters is because most of them have never seen a candidate who actually aligns with their views.  They assumed that such a candidate couldn't exist and that if he doesn't get elected we'll miss our opportunity to elect such a candidate.  They are mistaken.  He is not a fluke.  Candidate Sanders exists because Senator Sanders examined the behavior of voters and protesters in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 and concluded that his message would find an audience.

Jumping back to the present, we find ourselves with a difficult choice.  Obviously, there is a lot to love about Sanders.  Even if you're a moderate, you probably bristle at the undemocratic way that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic committee attempted to coronation her without consideration for what voters might want.  Even if you prefer incremental change over taking risks on serious change, you almost certainly agree that it's a shame that Hillary Clinton seems unburdened by the weight of integrity or sincerity.  It'd be nice if we could take Bernie Sanders best qualities and transfer them to Clinton, but we can't and between the two choices perhaps you have decided that you don't want Bernie Sanders to be president.  So you hold your nose and vote for Hillary.

But what if I told you that voting for Bernie Sanders wasn't a vote for Bernie Sanders to be president in 2016?

Bernie Sanders can't win the nomination at this point.  But his candidacy is not a bust.  There are others who are watching and learning and will one day ride smoothly over the road Bernie Sanders' campaign has struggled so mightily to lay.  Bernie Sanders, for all his strengths is an unfinished product.  The finished product would share his uncommon honesty, his open acknowledgement of the rigged political system, and his willingness to defy big-money donors and intimidating lobbing groups.  But this candidate would speak more effectively to minorities who don't feel represented by an old Vermonter.  They would present a more convincing plan for achieving Sanders goals.  And most importantly, they would present such a platform to an electorate that wasn't hearing a case for Socialism for the first time.  Bernie Sanders is not the modern-day Jesus.  He's John the Baptist, making the way for a better candidate.  He is presenting ideas which seemed unthinkable to mainstream voters a year ago but now appear to be inevitable, based on his popularity with young voters who will BE the political mainstream sooner than you think.

So don't worry about electability, because Sanders isn't going to get the nomination.  Don't worry what his presidency would be like, because it isn't going to happen.  Just recognize that Hillary Clinton doesn't need your support.  The candidate who will actually represent you 4, 6, or 8 years from now does.

No comments:

Post a Comment