Editorial: Why cast a vote for Bernie?
Why cast a vote for Bernie?
On Tuesday, Vermonters will not only cast ballots on local budgets and candidates, but for a presidential nominee of either the Republican or Democratic parties. For those choosing to vote in the Democratic primary, here’s why we’re voting for Vermont’s junior Senator, Bernie Sanders.
He is fighting the right fights:
• Bernie has led the national discussion on income inequality and will continue to do so.
• He has been out front on climate change for years, is an ardent champion of reducing the nation’s and world’s carbon footprint, would impose stricter limits on fossil fuel production (specifically fracking and drilling in fragile regions off-shore), and would push the nation to ramp up its development of renewable energy — potentially sparking a wave of new growth and innovation on that sector.
• On education, he would push to reduce the cost of attending college, getting it as close to free as possible for those needing assistance.
• He’s right to devote resources to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, his stances on social issues align with a progressive perspective and the immigration policies he champions are respectful of the immigrants’ plight while also being a practical response to the agricultural, business and security needs of the nation.
• He’s an ardent advocate of campaign finance reform and would seek measures to insure big businesses don’t continue to move their headquarters out of country to avoid U.S. taxes without suitable consequences.
While Hillary Clinton has co-opted several of these ideas into her campaign, these issues are at the heart of Bernie’s core message and his political cause. His sincerity is real, and that has the potential to sway the majority view unlike a similar appeal from Ms. Clinton.
Bernie may be just as electable as Ms. Clinton. In an astute column in this newspaper last week, political analyst Eric Davis gave four sound reasons that debunked Clinton’s mantra that she was the most electable of the Democratic candidates. Those points included:
• Sanders’ “outsider” campaign appeals to the masses in a way than an insider’s campaign will not, plus his supporters are more loyal, passionate and dedicated that are Clinton’s;
• Clinton’s strategy to embrace Obama’s legacy may play well among die-hard Democrats, but it could hurt her in the general election for many independent voters who are lukewarm to the president;
• Exit polls in the early primaries show Clinton is perceived as dishonest and untrustworthy among voters, which could become a bigger problem in the months ahead if the Benghazi email scandal and her relationship with Huma Abedin (a long-time assistant) continue to draw fire. Voters, however, give Sanders high marks on trust and honesty.
• Fourth, Clinton argues she would get more of her policies implemented as a moderate Democrat, compared to Sanders’ more liberal agenda — a point that Davis effectively counters by suggesting that few major initiatives will get through the current obstructionist Republican-held House of Representatives regardless of whether Clinton is the president or Sanders. “If a Democrat is elected president in November,” Davis wrote, “the pattern of legislative-executive relations of the last four years should continue: a congressional focus on investigations of the executive branch rather than passing legislation. What legislation is enacted will likely be end-of-the-session omnibus bills tied to the expiration of deadlines on spending and tax policy.” In that realistic scenario, it’s very possible that Sanders’ could be more effective at using the presidential bully pulpit to shame the Republican’s obstructionist tactics and to erode their political support in the House.
Vermonters, in particular, should cast their vote for Sanders because, at the very least, his political message needs to resonate across the land beyond Super Tuesday — and the more support he gets from his home state, the more validity his campaign has.
Still, Sanders’ bid for the Democratic nominee is a long shot. As Congressman Peter Welch, D-Vt., said last week when he announced he was supporting Bernie: “He’s set out on a goal of climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. He’s at the base camp. He’s got a long way to go.”
Vermonters’ can give him a boost. Vote for Bernie not just because he’s Vermont’s senator, but because he stands for what most of us believe in — and he has matured into an increasingly effective advocate for those causes. He has served Vermont well as Burlington mayor, congressman and U.S. senator. As president, he would serve the nation admirably as well.
— Angelo S. Lynn