With Rand Paul recently announcing his departure from the GOP primary race, many Libertarians and conservatives may have an eye toward Gary Johnson. As a protest voter myself (Jill Stein 2008 anyone?), I understand the appeal and the moral dilemma involved in that decision. However, I’d like to make a quick pitch, if I may: I’d like you to consider Bernie Sanders.
If that seems crazy, I’m going to back up and resurface this anecdote. In the 2008 primaries, both Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich had small yet passionate crowds. Seemingly on opposite ends of the spectrum politically, Dennis said he’d be very interested in having Ron as his Vice President. Not only did both men stand against the imperialistic wars of the day, they also fought against the erosion of rights for our own citizens. As far apart as the media would place them, Kucinich and Paul felt a mutual respect and had some conspicuous platform agreements.
Fast forward eight years: Kucinich was gerrymandered out of Ohio and Paul has retired from politics. The Tea Party gained traction in 2009 while Occupy Wall Street made waves in 2011. The NSA was strengthened and the NDAA was added. The Fed wasn’t audited and Gitmo wasn’t shut down. More countries were invaded while infrastructure continued crumbling at home. While the corporate media tells us the recession is over, the people have become as restless as ever, comparing the rosy outlook on television with the reality of their neighbors losing their jobs and drowning under college and medical debt.
Bernie Sanders has emerged as an anti-establishment fighter for the people. He has demonstrated consistency in protecting civil rights, opposing NSA surveillance and the PATRIOT Act, as well as prescience in foreign policy, voting against the Iraq war and other aggressive military action. He has supported a full and transparent audit of the federal reserve. His record on guns may be the only one that effectively meets everyone in the middle, strengthening certain loopholes while acknowledging that Americans have a strong fundamental right to own guns.
Bernie Sanders is the only major remaining candidate who supports removing cannabis from Schedule I and legalizing it on a national scale. He has bluntly stated his opposition to civil asset forfeiture and said that he will demilitarize our police so that they do not look like an invading force.
Based on my experience speaking with Rand Paul supporters, you probably already knew all that. Here’s a few things you may also know, but we may see a little differently.
Bernie is often viewed as a welfare state president because he has some economic views that fall hard toward the Keynesian side of life, but consider for a moment that instead of a handout, he wants to take a trillion dollars and pay people to do work… and not just any work, but sweat-inducing and important work. Rebuilding bridges and roads that we know are in poor shape. Making buildings more energy efficient. Building better public transit. Think of Eisenhower’s interstate highway system and FDR’s New Deal projects. The hard and necessary work creates consumer demand and fixes the shortcomings of the private sector since the 2008 meltdown.
He also may appear to miss the free market bus on healthcare and college, but if I may: The invisible hand of the free market forgets one key component, and that is dignity in a mature society. Sure, it’s our responsibility to get educated and stay healthy. We should save from an early age and always have great insurance coverage. On the other hand, the costs of both of these things have ballooned out of control and we are bankrupting people who pursue intelligence and health. They’re trying to invest in their future, but they graduate with six digit debt and no job prospects, or their insurance companies reject their claims with little recourse.
We may never agree on taxation, and that’s fine. However, if Bernie’s tax revenue makes society smarter and healthier instead of paying corporate welfare to Walmart and propping up Wall Street, isn’t that just a tad bit in a better direction?
I’m not saying we have a home run here, but I think the comparison at least warrants a bases loaded double, and I don’t believe you’ll find that with any other candidate in either party. So what do you say, supporters of Rand? How can we work together to defeat the establishment?
SIDE NOTE: I’m working on a project with Lorain County for Bernie Sanders to send mailers to thousands of residents in the crucial swing state of Ohio. Most of our funding will come out of our own pockets, but some of it will also come from this “Give ’em Hell, Bernie” bumper sticker which you can order for $6 with free shipping in the US. Please consider supporting our efforts! (And share this article!)