For basically my whole life, I haven’t been interested in politics. A lot of it was due to the fact that I never really noticed the massive impact that politics had on my everyday life. However, that all changed this past year when I started paying attention to the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders.
The main thing that fascinated me about Sanders was not his stature, campaign advertisements, or old school Brooklyn accent. Rather, it was the supreme authenticity of his message. He’s someone who protested racial segregation in the 1960s, marched with Martin Luther King Jr. at the height of the civil rights movement, and vehemently fought against the Vietnam War. He’s remained remarkably consistent in his core beliefs leading up to today, as he’s always fought to put an end to the endless wars, ensure everyone has access to healthcare, tax the ultra-rich, and most importantly, bring power back to the people.
Sanders has sucked me into the world of politics, as his vision for America has shown me that it’s entirely possible to build a more equitable society where there’s actually liberty and justice for all. His ideas are carried over from historical visionaries such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesse Jackson, who all emphasized that no person should be too poor to live. As Sanders eloquently put in a speech in 1976, “the fundamental issue facing us in the state is that half of 1% of these people — the richest half of 1% — earn as much as the bottom 27% and the top 3% earn as much as the bottom 40%.”
Sanders has spent 30 years fighting for working-class people in Congress, and he ran his 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns citing the need for a “political revolution.” One of the biggest points he continuously made was that his campaign “is the campaign of energy, is the campaign of excitement, is the campaign that can bring millions of people into the political process who normally do not vote.” Even though he lost both the 2016 and 2020 nominations, his campaigns were still a major success. He influenced millions of people to become involved in the political process, myself included, and completely changed the narrative of what’s politically possible. As a result, progressive ideals and policies hold much more power today than ever before.
One of his key proposals, Medicare for All, stands out from the rest — polls indicate that a whopping 69% of registered voters support it. A large reason for this is because Sanders’ constantly pushed for Medicare for All, to the point where many realized the urgent moral and economic necessity of it.
Additionally, Sanders collected a staggering amount of youth support throughout his campaigns. For example, in the first two primary states, Iowa and New Hamphsire, approximately half of voters under 30 voted for him. Also, an estimated 10,000 people have joined the Democratic Socialists of America since March.
As a result of Sanders’ outreach to all sorts of voters looking for change, he has altered the topic of discussion for the 2020 presidential election. Despite the fact that Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee, the public support for a political revolution has gained more traction than ever before, as people are waking up to the truly horrid situation we’re in. A global pandemic is tearing our society apart, Congress is bailing out corporations with trillions of dollars, and there’s significant protests and action against institutional racism plaguing the country.
Thus, as we approach the 2020 election, I do not believe it’s worth paying attention to Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Both politicians are owned by Wall Street, and they’ll do next to nothing to help dismantle the corporate duopoly that’s hurting our nation. Rather, I believe it’s necessary to organize the masses and convince them that creating a better society, where no one has to worry about living paycheck to paycheck, is possible.
In order to get this done, it’s going to take forming working-class coalitions to build strong labor and union networks, electing progressive candidates to office who will fight for things like a Green New Deal and Medicare for All, and following the lead of activist groups such as the Sunrise Movement, the Poor People’s Campaign, Black Lives Matter, and Democratic Socialists of America.
But most importantly, it’s going to take all of us adopting the fighting spirit of Bernie Sanders.
Bernie is someone who, throughout over 50 years of political activism, has consistently fought for the rights of marginalized groups. Even back in the 1960s, he vigorously protested racial inequality at the University of Chicago, and there’s an iconic photo of him refusing to move and resisting arrest while chained side-by-side with two Black women.
To save our future, it’s going to have to take enough people adopting Sanders’ mindset of saying, enough with the hate, enough with the killing, enough with the injustice. I am going to fight for change because it’s the right thing to do.