If you Vote for Him, He Will Come…
So earlier this morning, I was having breakfast and talking politics with my girlfriend’s mom, let’s call her “K”. That’s hardly secret service identity protection. Her name is Kay. An ardent Hilary supporter, I tried to convince her why Bernie Sanders deserved her vote. Now mind you, this delightfully brash and insightful woman could end up someday being my mother-in-law, so you’ll excuse me if I kept the discussion polite and simply asked her why she wasn’t planning on voting for Bernie Sanders. She replied with what now feels like that age-old refrain, “I love everything he stands for, but I just don’t know if he’s electable.”
I love you, Kay, but I think I might need to backhand the next progressive that falls into the trap of believing that Bernie cannot win. Now I know why poor Bernie seems to have pulled out all his hair and looks like a somewhat grumpier, grayer version of the old pencil-top trolls with the crazy hair. If you vote for him, he will win. And that’s just the point, folks- believe it or not, this is still our democracy, and Bernie is our chance to reclaim it.
Let’s start by debunking the electability issue once and for all. I have heard from far too many Democrats that like Bernie but worry that he is not as viable in the general election as a tested and bankrolled Hilary, but recent polling data from Real Clear Politics suggests that Hilary’s lead in a head-to-head matchup with Trump, the presumptive nominee at this point, is 4.7 percentage points, while Sanders would beat Trump with 49.7% of the vote to the Donald’s 40%. Against Cruz, the discrepancy is even more pronounced. Hilary runs in a statistical dead heat with Cruz, while Bernie beats him by a respectable margin. Both Democratic candidates beat Bush by 3 to 5 percentage points.
This is not to disparage Hilary. For some reason, there seems to be a likability issue with Clinton that to me reeks of at least some semblance of a latent sexism. I can’t help thinking that the abrasive qualities voters deem “bitchy” in Clinton are similar to the ones being lauded in the blowhard who wants to build a giant wall between us and Mexico and somehow get them to pay for it. I find Clinton assertive, strong, capable, and passionate about helping the American people. If it comes down to it, I will happily vote for her versus any of the knuckle-dragging venom spewers engaged in those Republican nominee debacles, but her national lead over Bernie continues to erode, and it’s happening for a reason: people are starting to “Feel the Bern”.
Bernie’s campaign has begun to take on a grassroots momentum, a groundswell that has begun to shake the very political ground we stand on, and folks are beginning to feel the tremors beneath their feet. Unless you have have intentionally buried your head in the sand of social media, you cannot have helped but notice the surge of memes, Facebook postings, and cultural swag supporting Bernie’s candidacy. He is taking on an iconic status , a folk lore in his own time, not unlike the phenomenon that swept the nation and carried Obama into the White House.
And that’s exactly why this candidate is oh so vital to the reclamation of our democracy at this time. People want Bernie. They want someone who is willing to stand up to the entitled interests in this country, be it corporations, military spending, or the uber wealthy, and actually do something to reverse the grossly unfair and unstable economic divide that has developed in this country. The people want this, but they are scared they cannot have it- scared that someone who is not taking money from the wealthy corporations that they believe buy the election process can actually win a presidential election. Ever since the Citizens United case hijacked American democracy, voters have become growingly disenfranchised, falling victim to the belief that their vote doesn’t really matter. But Bernie Sanders is our chance to flash a giant middle finger back at the privileged entities that have tried to purchase our government in order to maintain the financial schism that feeds their unquenchable avarice. He is our opportunity to remind them that our votes do count, and that our democracy may be threatened by financial influence, but in the end, it is not for sale.
Will Bernie accomplish everything he is suggesting? Probably not. Even if we elect him, he becomes the president, not God. Trying to get Congress to support him on national health care, free higher education, and government reimbursed child care is about as likely as Donald Trump negotiating a peace treaty. But that’s not the point. Bernie will stand up for a fair realignment of the tax structure that currently so heavily favors the wealthy. He will fight for the rights of women, minorities, and the poor. But most importantly, he will do what it takes to get money out of politics and remind us that this a government for and of the people, not corporations.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 Words or Less every TUESDAY and FRIDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com