With the Iowa Caucus this past Monday and New Hampshire primaries this next Tuesday, it is finally time for the ball to drop. Well, as long as the Iowa Democratic Party gets their stuff together and publishes their state’s results. While Connecticut is late enough that the candidacy may be all but decided by our primary, I want to make a case for who is by far the most honest, compassionate and progressive Democratic option we have: Bernie Sanders.
Looking purely at policy, there is no contest. Sanders has shown unflinching, dedicated support to issues that would demonstrably benefit the lives of millions of Americans.
Sanders is the only candidate who has never watered down his stance on healthcare. From his sponsoring of the Medicare For All Act to his ongoing support for it in the campaign, Sanders has been consistent on wanting universal healthcare in the United States. You may worry about specifics, but you are wrong if you think this should not be our goal. Not only would this create a more equitable society, lifting up the most destitute among us, but it would also remove much of the confusion and bureaucratic bloat in our current system. This is not a radical idea; it is catching up to the plethora of other countries that have successfully implemented universal healthcare. Implementing Medicare For All would be the single biggest success in American politics in decades, and it is critical for the health of our country that we move towards this.
More abstractly, Sanders’ repeated support of a Green New Deal and workplace democracy shows where his other political leanings lie. Fighting the ongoing and worsening climate disaster must be a priority if we as a species are to survive in any form. Doing this in a way that does not leave working people in the dust is imperative if we as a country are to survive. Sanders has shown a kind of insight on these issues that no other candidate is brave enough to. We need a leader with this kind of decisive and progressive attitude.
Detractors will say Bernie Sanders will never be able to put in place “radical” ideas like these. But that sort of concession is unhelpful at best and willfully ignorant at worst. Acting as though any progressive legislation can come without a fight is laughable. Saying we cannot have a better, more equitable world because of legislative pushback is defeatist. Thinking that a politician should be counted out for good priorities and strong ambition is wrong. And claiming that these ideas are radical in any way is a lie.
Even aside from achieving the exact specifics of his campaign, a Sanders administration will help push the narrative of American politics to the left. Even if Sanders is unable to eliminate medical debt or make college free, his presidency will empower the working class and help spur on future change.
Policy is the most important metric towards whether a candidate should be supported or not. It is a shame that the old guard in America has tried to obfuscate this with arguments of electability. However, even playing that game, Sanders comes up ahead. As a grassroots campaign, Sanders’ has seen unprecedented success. He has had some of the best success in fundraising ever, largely on the back of small-money donations. His rallies consistently attract large and enthusiastic crowds. He is running a campaign focused on underrepresented voters, getting those who did not vote before to start. He is polling well, very well. Sanders and his policies have massive support across the United States, and there is not a doubt in my mind that he would win the presidency given candidacy in the general election.
As a politician, Sanders just comes across as an honest, authentic person. He has shown his commitment to bettering the lives of others many times over. His record on anti-interventionism isn’t perfect, nor is his history with LGBTQ+ rights, but both are far better than most of the field. He shows an openness to self-improvement and introspection that I fail to see in many other candidates. He does not have to cover his tracks or stumble through explanations on his past actions because he can stand by his history with confidence. This sort of apparent transparency and continued effort is necessary in a time where trust in the political system is at an all-time low.
When Bernie Sanders was asked what he would like to be known for in one word, he responded, “Compassion.” When voting in this primary election, or even later on in the general, I encourage you to keep that response in mind. We need to move toward a society where virtue and empathy are valued, and it starts with our leaders. As such, we must vote with — and for — compassion.
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Peter Fenteany is the associate opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.