One of the most important political questions we all must answer is whether or not to oppose the status quo: Those who hold political and economic power in the country. This debate has a rich historical tradition, and it is ultimately up to each of us to decide for ourselves if we believe those in power are managing things well or poorly.
However, many Americans distrust our governmental institutions, distrust the wealthy and don’t believe that working hard will improve their quality of life. They are growing dissatisfied with the status-quo and believe these people need to be challenged in order to enact fundamental institutional change. For such concerned citizens, another question follows: Which presidential candidate will assist in this struggle in the 2020 election?
Bernie Sanders is the only candidate unfunded by billionaires, large corporations and business interests. Even Elizabeth Warren, often compared to Sanders because she claims to support some of the same policies, has billionaires amongst many other wealthy Democratic donors supporting her campaign. Politicians supported by the wealthy and powerful are unlikely to challenge them once elected.
In direct contrast to Warren and other opponents, the Sanders campaign is funded by one million individual donations, more than any other political candidate in American history. Sanders’s donations average $18.53 each the lowest amount of any candidate running. The Sanders campaign is the only grassroots political program supported by working class Americans without any allegiance to special interests or billionaires.
Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who has a lifelong history of activism for civil rights. He is the only candidate to have personally marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He was arrested in 1963 while protesting racial segregation in the Chicago school system. Today he continues organizing with activists for racial justice and living wages across the country. He is the only candidate who will fight for the rights of marginalized people.
Bernie Sanders is also the only candidate with a lifelong political and activist support of the American labor movement. His Workplace Democracy plan would double union membership and revitalize the American labor movement by increasing workers’ power to organize and strike. His Corporate Accountability and Democracy plan would give workers shares of the companies they work for in addition to breaking up large corporations. He is the only candidate who will fight for workers’ rights to collectively bargain and control their workplaces.
Critics of Bernie suggest that his campaign is merely about giving people “free stuff,” such as lifesaving medical care, education and housing. But unlike other Democrats, his political vision includes bringing in common people to activism and political participation at never-before-seen levels. Sanders plans to be the “organizer in chief”, building a mass movement which will pressure institutions into progressive change.
This is the most significant difference between Bernie and his competitors. Every other Democratic candidate’s platform is simply about changing dials on existing programs or applying small taxes to the wealthy. Bernie Sanders’s political vision is about mobilizing working class people to fight for their own wellbeing. This political circumstance would break the cyclical rotation between Democrats and Republicans, where any material improvements for the working class can be reversed with the change of an administration. Bernie wants to use policy and organization to permanently empower everyday people to demand their rights.
Although Sanders has the best chance against Trump of any Democratic nominee, there is no guarantee that he will become president. When president, there’s no guarantee that his vision of America will be immediately realized given the two major political parties hostile to his platform. Still, the Sanders campaign is the only one proposing a fundamental redistribution of power downwards from the wealthy and powerful to working class Americans.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais.
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Harrison Raskin is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.