I’m just going to put this out there: Bernie Sanders could win the U.S. presidential election. American politics has never been more fun. Never in a million years would anyone imagine that a billionaire racist and a socialist Jew could get within ten feet of a presidential race podium, and yet, here we are. This time around, life really has become stranger than fiction as a hyper-polarized American public opinion has nurtured the idolization of socialist values and forced conservative extremists to become caricatures in a satirical comedy featuring the temper tantrums of a pre-schooler in time-out.
But what’s also surprising is the genuine embracing of values that reflect a post-capitalistic society. Broken, battered, and fed up, the majority of Americans have opted to reexamine the capitalistic dogma of a generation that has left them working more hours with less to show for. Under the banners of “Black Lives Matter,” “Fight for $15,” and “Love is Love,” the mythical allure of meritocracy under the assumption of equality has begun to wane, and the cost of upholding such Americanisms has revealed itself. The average citizen is now ready to break rank and demand their fair share of prosperity and an American Dream that truly rewards hard work.
Still, even with recent progressive actions that have legalized marijuana, same-sex marriage, and established a minimum wage of $15/Hr, the question remains whether or not Americans will actually vote to elect a presidential candidate with more extreme positions. Despite our reputation for being bold and suckers for a chance to stick it to authority, American voters are pretty boring when it comes to electing government officials. Americans don’t vote for extremists and extreme change no matter how loudly we cry for it; we vote for moderates.
“Look at all the presidents before Obama; All of them were moderates within their parties,” a friend said to me at breakfast this morning.
It’s an important point to note, and a depressing one at that.
What happened to the revolutionary spirit that once defined American citizens? Where are the seized opportunities to overthrow a government that no longer represents the best interests of the people?
Somewhere along the way everyone checked-out and “We the People” became “Who the hell are you?” This general malaise and seperatism, prompted by a retreat into a life of working more hours for less pay, has rendered American voters strangers in their own land and ruled by those with no vested interest in equal opportunity for all. And yet, revolutionary change seems imminent—beginning with the election of an independent like Bernie Sanders.
A jewish man with socialist ideas elected president? (I know, I know. It’s crazy). But there’s a funny thing that happens whenever progressive changes get put off for too long: it happens quickly, all at once, and in a cascading and sweeping manner. Look at what happened to marriage equality; precipitating events fast-tracked a Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage equality within 15 months! Progressive actions on the most important issues of income inequality, same-sex marriage, and racism, have been moving the needle toward the proverbial tipping-point for a while now, but the game-changer necessary to push us over the edge just might be to elect Mr. Sanders.
So what leads me to believe that an independent candidate like Bernie Sanders—a man with socialist ideas in a capitalist society—could become elected president? Let’s take a look.
1.) Citizens United Has An Unexpected Benefit
Robert Reich, the former U.S. secretary of labor and star of documentary “Inequality for All,” commented that the successful passing of Citizens United has produced an unexpected disadvantage to the GOP. He explains that in their overzealous plans to use legislature to buy government elected officials, the conservative right has ALSO enabled organizations to back opponents to their agenda. This means that despite the fact that Bernie Sanders is predominately funded by individuals who give an average of $35, he is equality likely to garner additional support from other corporate organizations that agree with his positions. This is especially important when acknowledging that corporate support for issues that contrast greatly with public opinion could result is lost customers, revenue, and the destruction of an entire brand. Buying politics is easy when the monetary incentives are guaranteed by officials that agree to protect your profits, but that power wanes in observance of where profits come from: the public. Using the Internet to organize, boycott, and shame corporate images has become a massively popular way to ravage customer bases and profits. If the GOP and Democratic message conflicts with the public majority opinion, that could lead to the corporate backing of more progressive candidates that are in line with increasingly progressive voters.
2.) Extremely Polarized Politics = Extreme Voting
Enough is enough is enough. Americans have grown so tired with the status quo, of watching officials from both major parties playing the same old game of “dangle the carrot,” that now voting for a candidate with more radical ideas has become more appealing. As income inequality pushes political polarization to its limits, voters are more likely to vote in the extreme just to get away from moderates that look like “the same ol’ song” about changes in Washington that never seem to come.
3.) Voters Are Becoming More Educated
Thank goodness for the Internet. As Americans now enjoy the fastest and most efficient Internet ever, wielding the power of smartphones only in the last few years, we are becoming more educated with examples of how different ideas can be better. When we learn about Denmark’s $20/Hr minimum wage, and paid paternity leave in the U.K. and Germany, we are forced to consider our own rights and just how well our elected officials are looking out for our best interests. Just knowing that efficient national healthcare systems exist in Canada, Japan, and Germany, helps us to discard old myths about the evils of government healthcare and we become encouraged by the notion that healthcare is a right, not a commodity. In this way, examples have become a key motivator in aiding Americans to imagine radical changes that can greatly impact their quality of life.
4.) The Status Quo Violates Core American Culture
The very foundation of American culture is rooted in the ideal of meritocracy, where everyone gets what they work for and no one gets something for nothing. Fair play and reaping the rewards of hard work have always been essential pillars of American ideology, but recent decades of increasingly twisted politics have subjugated such values to perpetuate economic divide and an imbalance of power. Suddenly, being born into wealth means you “deserve it” and being poor means you don’t work hard enough. It’s complete nonsense. That’s why income inequality, same-sex marriage, and racism have become so important, because discrimination on these fronts by the status quo violates American identity at a visceral level. This is why the conservative right is losing ground so quickly with voters: they refuse to budge on issues of change that challenge archaic and bias ideology. Americans are all about challenging the status quo, fairness, equal representation, and respect for decisions made by the people, the majority. So when voters push for progressive changes and the right refuses to budge, or worse, refuses to respect legal decisions that oppose their narrative, they prove themselves unfit to be public servants. Even when the public comes to an obvious consensus, the right ignores it and the result is nothing short of embarrassing. This is why the right has become a joke. When a right-winger judge who refuses to uphold federal law that legalizes same-sex marriage, one can’t help but understand such resistance in the same way we do that of a five-year-old child.
“No! No! I won’t do it and you can’t make me!”
Take some responsibility and stop being a baby—Americans hate that.
5.) He Believes He Can Win
Some may take this lightly, though, I’d seriously caution anyone willing to bet against a man with the intelligence and experience of Bernie Sanders. During one interview he explained that he wouldn’t run if he didn’t believe he could win. My guess is that Bernie’s done his homework and knows exactly how to get elected: by addressing issues that align himself with the true concerns of middle-class Americans, which are the majority.
6.) Hillary Is Tainted
It’s tempting to imagine that after electing the first African-American president, the voters are ready to go all the way and elect the first woman president. But unfortunately, for Hillary, she’s already been associated with the kind of political collusion with big-money that American voters are already pissed off about. In the same time that public angst teamed up with the Internet to reveal conservative ties to corporate billfolds, Hillary and the Democrats’ sex tape with Wall Street has essentially been leaked as well. Though she’s been an important representation for women in politics and the wife of beloved President Bill Clinton, women’s issues and the American palate for seeing women in higher places isn’t likely enough to get her elected. At this stage, the average American is more concerned with money in politics and massive income inequality than they are with getting a woman into the big chair.
After discussing these points, I got excited at what my friend said between his next two sips of coffee,
“Bernie is exactly where Obama was during his first run for president.”