Bernie Sanders is the good kind of radical
Point/Counter-Point: To see the other side of this argument, read "America isn’t as bad as Bernie says", here.
Due to his status as a political underdog running against one of the most famous politicians in the country, it is almost impossible to debate Senator Bernie Sanders’ legitimacy as a presidential candidate without comparing him to Hillary Clinton. This is ultimately to Sanders’ disservice, because he is not just an exciting alternative to an obviously flawed candidate, he is an exciting candidate in his own right.
Opponents have only been able to muster two main criticisms of Sanders: he won’t be able to execute his ideas and he won’t get elected.
While there is tangible evidence pointing to the contrary on the latter point — Bernie thrashes all Republican candidates in general election polls — the former point seems to be more contentious.
I’ve personally grown tired of hearing Sanders’ plan for affordable college described as unrealistic or poorly thought-out. The Senator has laid out an incredibly practical path to affordable higher education in America. Nowhere in this proposal is a suggestion to raise taxes on the American public.
Sanders plans to make Wall Street pay for America’s college students. As he says on his website, “If the taxpayers of this country could bailout Wall Street in 2008, we can make public colleges and universities tuition free and debt free throughout the country.” This is both practical and fair.
Obama was criticized as an overly idealistic socialist, and his presidency went reasonably well. In retrospect, nothing about his platform was particularly radical — especially in comparison with Bernie.
But Bernie shouldn’t lose points because he has fresh ideas that are going to take some time and major adjustments to execute. His acknowledgment of this is evident in his frequent use of the word “revolution.” Proposing a revolution doesn’t suggest this transition will happen immediately and with ease. It’s going to be a struggle, and a lot is going to have to change.
Luckily, Sanders has the advantage of not inheriting the country at its lowest point in 80 years. Now that the country is in sustainable condition instead of teetering on the edge of apocalypse, it is time to actually re-work the system that caused the disaster in the first place.
That’s why Sanders has appealed to the youngest generation of voters as much as he has. Not due to entitlement; even though I do feel entitled to a healthy economy, medicine, and a system that isn’t rigged against the lower class.
And it’s not because we’re worried that we won’t have it as good as our parents either. That’s already our reality. We’re worried our kids will have it even worse. We’re worried that if a traditional candidate in the pocket of Wall Street comes to power, the rich will continue to get richer and the poor will keep getting poorer.
That’s why we’re rallying behind a candidate who is repeatedly on the right side of history. Bernie continues to offer radical solutions to the problems that really matter. Instead of using the vague political buzzwords and circling non-answers we are so used to hearing, he speaks literally and bluntly.
Sometimes he goes too far. Sometimes he is too radical, or unrealistic. But at this point in our country, I would rather elect a candidate bursting with good ideas who will face a bit of a reality check upon arrival in the oval office than another establishment candidate who will take half-measures and continue to reinforce the traditions that culminated in the economic crisis of 2008.
The core of people’s opposition to Sanders must be a feeling that everything is working perfectly fine in America. It isn’t. The disaster currently unfolding in Flint, Michigan wouldn’t happen in a healthy, transparent system. Other candidates may have a better handle on the traditional political maneuvers used to “solve” this crisis, but Sanders offers an alternative. He’s not interested in preserving his political connections while solving the massive crisis in Flint. And he’s not exclusively interested in fixing it in the short term. He’s interested in fixing the system that led us here in the first place.