The senator from Vermont is an idealistic truth teller who wants to rebuild our societys faulty foundations
Steven W Thrasher: He is ready to critique capitalism
Bernie Sanders offers the possibility of a better political future, the kind of world Ive been contemplating since the Black Lives Matter movement began. Thats appealing to me. I am not so naive as to think a Sanders presidency will solve everything or even much at all. But I am tired of being told I cannot imagine a better world.
You cant alleviate any of the systemic problems facing society today like racism, sexism or income inequality, to name a few without an honest and sustained critique of capitalism. My support for Sanders stems from his radical (in this country, anyway) willingness to reimagine how our financial system can work. His presidency could open a broader debate about it before the whole thing collapses.
I certainly wish Sanders had enough room in his capacious political imagination to consider the (UN recommended) concept of reparations for slavery. But he seems to get how our economic structure harms most of us, and hes gotten better at articulating the link between economics and racism since black women challenged him.
Ive never understood the enthusiastic, robust support for the Clintons from black voters. Bill Clinton amped up policing against us. He irreparably harmed impoverished black families with so-called welfare reform. Hillary Clinton made even our black children out to be dangerous super-predators deserving harsh punishment.
Whatever her other qualities, Hillary Clinton is beholden to maintaining the system as it is. She will not (indeed, given her donors and speaking gigs at banks, she cannot) entertain criticism of capitalism or even Wall Street and therefore is not an appealing candidate to me.
The status quo of late-term American capitalism is making it so we cant breathe. I dont want to vote for someone who is going to maintain our broken system at all costs. Therefore, I look forward to voting for the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.
- Steven W Thrasher is a columnist for Guardian US
Elizabeth Wurtzel: He wants to revive democracy
Bernie Sanders speaks the truth. The extraordinarily wealthy, with all the power they deploy, make the laws of the land, and we just live here. Sanders knows that half-measures avail us nothing: we need a revolution. All of us need to participate. All of us need to vote and overwhelm the influence of the unaccountable rich. 99.9% is a lot more than .1%.
In 1907, when Congress passed the Tillman Act, banning all corporate contributions to candidates, the Senate Report noted: The evils of the use of money in connection with political elections are so generally recognized that the committee deems it unnecessary to make any argument in favor of the general purpose of this measure. It is in the interest of good government and calculated to promote purity in the selection of public officials.
Yes, I know: quaint. Two world wars later, and after Elvis gyrated his hips on television, there went purity. In 2010, the US supreme court turned the faucet on the free flow of megabucks with Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission.
[I]ndependent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption, wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority. That [campaign donors] may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy.
Ever since, voting in America has been funded by multinational corporations.
Bernie Sanders is right: the whole thing is run by a few billionaires. Or many. There are now 1,826 billionaires in the world, and 536 of them are American never mind all the people who are merely worth nine figures, all of them with their Super Pacs and thinktanks and philanthropies and foundations and charitable trusts and lobbyists and pushers and peddlers.
Bernie Sanders has come along and said that we are in deeper than we think. We are the lobster in the pot, and we dont know that the water is about to boil. We have the illusion of control, because some of us still exercise the franchise, but we live in an oligarchy.
Bernie Sanders is not radical. No, not at all. This democracy is losing its heartbeat. He wants to revive it.
- Elizabeth Wurtzel is an author and journalist
Daphne Wysham: He wont be bought by the fossil fuel lobby
Bernie Sanders recognizes climate change as the single greatest threat to our planet. That is why the climate emergency caucus in Iowa overwhelmingly voted to support Bernie Sanders, by 67%. His independence from corporate interests allows him to tackle other pressing issue of our time, like income inequality and taking on the 1% who profited from the bank bailouts. His courage, integrity and clarity of vision on critical issues like these make him a compelling candidate.
I was among the thousand protesters in front of the White House in 2011 who risked arrest in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. While we were doing all we could to prevent the disastrous plan from going forward, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton was developing close ties with lobbyists for TransCanada Corporation, the backers of the Keystone XL pipeline. She said she was inclined to support the pipeline and, in 2015, she hired a former lobbyist for the Keystone XL as a campaign adviser. She only came out against the pipeline last fall.
Bernie voiced clear opposition to the pipeline in 2011. Along with Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon, Sanders cosponsored the Keep It in the Ground bill, to keep public lands off limits to future oil, gas and coal leases. Sanders knows that if we are to avoid dangerous levels of CO2 in our atmosphere, 80% of proven reserves must stay in the ground. This step ensuring public lands are not given away to the very industries profiting from the climate crisis is a critical one. Sanders is also the only presidential candidate to oppose all fracking, which has a disastrous impact on the environment.
As a senator, Sanders has submitted comprehensive legislation to remove the $135bn in taxpayer subsidies the fossil fuel industry enjoys. He is able to adopt an aggressive stance against big oil because he is the only candidate with no discernible contributions from Super Pacs. (Amusingly, there is one Super Pac called Billionaires for Bernie that has contributed, wait for it, $0 to Bernie.)
The Pentagon has called climate change a threat multiplier for terrorism and everyone from the president to the Pope to the scientific community has called it a global emergency. Fossil fuel industry lobbying has been a big reason why so few politicians are willing to do anything serious about this. But Sanders has refused to kowtow to corporations and billionaires that is why he stands out as having singular clarity on this urgent issue.
- Daphne Wysham is a climate justice activist
Erika L Sánchez: You can be a feminist and support Bernie
I think its ignorant to believe that a woman would automatically have my best interests in mind. Im a feminist, which is part of my overall belief in humanism. I feel we all have a responsibility to care for each other and capitalism very intentionally ignores or violates our humanity.
I certainly dont think that Bernie Sanders is some sort of messiah, but I do appreciate that he is pushing back against big business and I believe hes much more concerned about the average working American than any other candidate.
As a woman who grew up working class in an immigrant community, I respect Sanders commitment to addressing income inequality with measures such as raising the minimum wage and providing free tuition at public universities. It is also heartening to see him incorporate a racial justice platform, including police reform and the defense of voting rights.
There is a common belief that those who dont support Hillary Clinton are misogynists, which I believe is misguided and naive. I wish people wouldnt see the world in such extreme binaries. I simply dont think she is most concerned about women like me. I am also suspicious of the financial support she gets from Wall Street and am very troubled by her vote in favor of the Iraq war none of those things have anything to do with her gender.
- Erika L Sánchez is an author
Roberto Lovato: He captures the political imagination of many
As a journalist, I travel regularly and see firsthand the unprecedented dangers the world is facing, like climate change, extreme concentration of wealth and the widespread disillusion with democracy. To me, another Clinton presidency will literally be business as usual. Just consider Hillary Clintons large Wall Street speaking fees and her previous support for deporting young children back to Central America, to their possible deaths. Sanders, however, sounds like he has at least some political imagination on these issues.
Still, I dont see Sanders investing major resources like time and money into getting the Latino vote, which will be crucial to whomever wins the presidency.
So far, his efforts have been insufficient especially since he is up against an entrenched, well-recognized pro-Clinton Latino machine that is backed by big donors and an army of well-paid Latino operatives. In the face of such an opponent, an insurgent campaign like Sanders, which targets mainly white voters, will not win the Latino vote.
Bernie Sanders has managed to capture the political imagination of many, especially the young, but he has still not tailored his vision to Latinos, who skew younger. He is a game-changer at a national level, but not so much at the Latino community level. At least not yet.
To become so will require differentiating himself from the Clinton machine. He will need to do things like invest heavily in reaching Latino voters and take bold policy positions such as acknowledging US responsibility for the utterly failed drug war in Mexico thats left countless dead. He should also condemn domestic immigration policies that lead Obama (with Clintons support) to jail the youngest, most vulnerable victims of those policies.
I have not yet decided if I will vote for anyone. But if Sanders does things that spark the Latino political imagination, he might just persuade me.
- Roberto Lovato is a journalist and a research associate at the University of California at Berkeleys Center for Latino Policy Research.
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