I’ve exhausted a fair amount of my time over the last five years disagreeing with my friends, my coworkers, and my family members about politics. As touchy or as boring of a subject as it may be, I — like many people — got roped in during the 2016 Democratic Primary and my life has never really been the same since. I mean, sure, I have the same job and most of the same friends and coworkers. I still follow and cheer for the same sports teams. But I chose to participate in politics, because unlike my sports teams politics have a direct impact on my life.
2016 offered America a crossroads. Some started paying closer attention to what’s going on in the political world because Donald Trump offered them an anti-establishment option who was unlike anything the country had seen. And others thought, what the hell, Barack Obama wasn’t so bad, so how bad could Hillary Clinton be? Finally there were people like me, people who thought Republicans and Democrats were basically just two versions of the same old thing. Both parties come, both parties go, and nothing changes. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and together we all wash our hands.
So, naturally, people like me gravitated towards Bernie Sanders. While Trump offered to build a wall and bring jobs back, and while Hillary offered to resume business as usual, it was Sanders who was truly offering working people a new deal. It was for that reason that Bernie had such broad appeal to young people: he was the first politician in our lifetimes that gave us hope for the future.
So what happened in 2016? It’s a dumb question to be sure, because everybody knows what happened. Hillary Clinton and the DNC rigged the Democratic Primary, Hillary inevitably won the nomination, and Donald Trump — despite losing the popular vote by about three million — won the electoral college in an absolute beatdown. Liberals don’t want to acknowledge the rigging by the DNC, conservatives want to pretend that Hillary only won the popular vote because of votes being cast illegally, and from my perspective both sides are wrong.
The reason I disagree with so many people, or I guess the reason so many people disagree with me, is almost completely due to where we get our news from. As the son of a dad who frequently imbibes on the drug that is Fox News, I’m keenly aware of the sensational nonsense they so often push on their audience. And as someone who lives in Southern California, and oftentimes gets to talk to the typical liberal who watches CNN or MSNBC, I’m also reminded of just how lost and out of touch those corporate outlets are.
I’m not trying to suggest anyone (on either side) is wrong here. I’m just saying I see it differently. And from where I sit, as a 29 year-old millennial white guy, both conservative and liberal media are only out to sell you something. After all, we are a long ways removed from hard-hitting reporting and truth-telling. It doesn’t matter if it’s Fox News or CNN or MSNBC, since they are all paid for by massive corporations. There’s a reason they don’t regularly — or even occasionally — talk about climate change on the news, and it’s due to the fact that the fossil fuel industry pays top dollar to advertise. The news likewise doesn’t tell us about what atrocities the major banks are committing at the expense of ordinary people, or what the drug companies or private insurance agencies are doing to ordinary people, because those corporations, too, spend big money advertising on those networks.
That’s really my contention with my brothers and sisters from both sides of the political isle. Regardless of the issue, they tend to see everything in terms of Left vs. Right. If they are a Republican, then the Democrats are the bad guys. If they are a Democrat, then the Republicans are the bad guys. It’s the classic divide and conquer technique that the ultra wealthy have deployed from the beginning of time. So long as working people are busy fighting among themselves, they won’t turn their attention to those at the top who are profiting from maintaining the status quo.
I don’t see anything as Left vs. Right, because both left and right are constantly shifting. The goal posts keep moving. In other words, what difference does it make if you are left or right when in actuality the only changes that ever come — at least in my lifetime — are to benefit the already extremely wealthy, and punish the already poor?
That’s why every issue to me is a class issue. It’s a Top vs. Bottom issue. And let me just say, it doesn’t matter if you watch Fox or CNN or MSNBC: the millionaires who present the news to you are still going to be millionaires at the end of the day. The billionaire corporations who pay for advertising on those networks are still going to be billionaires at the end of the day. Life is good for them. Life is going to be good for them.
The reason Bernie Sanders is my candidate — and has been since circa July of 2015 — is because he is literally the only politician who has ever given a shit about someone like me. I was originally turned onto him by his promise to tax Wall Street to pay for kids to go to public college for free. And it makes sense, since I once went to college for two whole semesters and was put into $40,000 worth of debt. I knew he was a long shot to win in 2016, but I didn’t care. Bernie had to be better than whatever goon won the Republican nomination, and he had to be better than Hillary Clinton. That’s not to say Sanders was any sort of prize. It was more by default.
As it turned out, I was on the right side of history. Hillary got her clock cleaned by Trump; Trump has since gone on to preside over an embarrassing stint as President; and in the meantime, Bernie Sanders has put himself in a position to not only win the Democratic nomination in 2020, but do what Trump did to Hillary in 2016 and absolutely wipe out the electoral map.
I know I’m not going to get a lot of love for saying that. Republican voters actually welcome a potential matchup against Bernie, because they are told ad nauseam that socialism will never win. And liberals will scoff at even the idea that Sanders can win the Democratic primary, because the news keeps telling them oh Bernie’s too divisive or oh Bernie is too radical. Keep it going, guys.
As of right now, Bernie Sanders leads the Iowa polls. He has a commanding lead in the second primary state, New Hampshire. He is within a point of Joe Biden in the Nevada primary. Say what you want about polling — since after all Donald Trump bucked pretty much every poll in 2016 — but if Sanders takes both Iowa and New Hampshire, is there any way he doesn’t ride that momentum into a win in Nevada as well? And if he wins all of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — the first three states in the Democratic Primary — he will undoubtedly become the frontrunner (if he isn’t already), and what at that point would stop him from winning the nomination? (The DNC is going to do everything they can to stop him, but you know what I mean.)
My biases are evident, but that doesn’t make me wrong. I’m not one of those people who pretends 2016’s outcome vis-a-vis Trump and Hillary was in any way expected, but at the same time it wasn’t that surprising in retrospect. The states that decided the election — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — were the states that were most affected by NAFTA, the free trade agreement passed by Bill Clinton in the 1990’s. Trump narrowly won those contests, and the reason he won was because he went on a merry-go-round during the 2016 general election and promised to bring those disaffected workers their jobs back.
Of course Trump was lying about that. He never had any intention of overturning NAFTA or of bringing back any of those jobs. (In fact, he has outsourced jobs in his tenure at a higher rate than President Obama.) But the point is, Trump at least made an effort. He at least pretended to care about the issues of working class people. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, made no such effort. She never apologized for the catastrophe NAFTA turned out to be. She didn’t even campaign in Wisconsin or Michigan because those were supposed to be surefire locks in favor of the blue team.
I am absolutely convinced that Bernie Sanders is the only Democratic candidate who can defeat Donald Trump in 2020, and there are a couple reasons for that. The first has to do with NAFTA: not only did Bernie oppose the deal at the time, he stood on the picket lines with union workers who knew it would ship their jobs overseas. The one major advantage Trump had in 2016 — and that he will have in 2020 if he goes against Biden — was on trade. Trump campaigned in the midwest on the idea that NAFTA was a disaster (because it was), and Hillary was unable to look those people in the face and tell them that her husband, Bill, made a terrible mistake. Joe Biden, too, was at the forefront supporting NAFTA.
The second reason Bernie is the only candidate who can beat Trump is because he isn’t doing what all the other Democrats are, and trying to attract “moderate Republicans” to vote Democrat. That’s a losing strategy, as has already been proven by Hillary’s failure in 2016. Instead, Bernie’s strategy is to attract some of the 100-plus million people who generally don’t vote. Everyone has their reasons for not voting — besides the obvious facts that America incarcerates more people than any country in the world, or that voting day isn’t a holiday and most people have to go to work — but I assume a healthy portion of the population don’t really think they are making a real choice. Like I’ve said, both parties are pretty much the same thing.
Think about everything that has happened since Donald Trump took office. Think of all the excuses the Democrats have made for why Hillary didn’t win. The list is too long to remember. First they said Russia interfered with the election; then they said it was the fault of Bernie and his supporters; then they said it was because people are racist and sexist; on and on and on it goes.
The reality is Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. She just didn’t win the electoral college. She wants to blame everybody else and refuse to take any responsibility for running the worst campaign in the history of presidential campaigns. And she won more votes. I have to admit, it does bring me some peace to know that Hillary must wake up every day, rich beyond comprehension, and be just completely miserable.
But back to Bernie. A lot of liberals say their number one concern in 2020 is getting Donald Trump out of office. Then they say that their candidate is Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg or Joe Biden, three of the upper-tier candidates who would probably lose. And not only that they have glaring holes that Trump would further expose in a general election, but because people who like Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be motivated in the slightest to come out and vote for them in November. If you want to win, you don’t alienate the supporters of the one candidate who stands the best chance of winning.
Remember, Bernie isn’t a Democrat. That’s part of his appeal (with me, at least). I don’t know if you know this, but Democrats are really fucking unpopular. Regular people can’t stand politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, also known as the Speaker of the House and the minority leader in the Senate, respectively. Democratic leadership is about as unpopular as the mainstream media.
Sanders, on the other hand, is more of a New Deal-er. He isn’t offering incremental change; he is offering to change the system altogether. You just don’t see anyone else earnestly campaigning for Medicare For All, free public college, increasing the minimum wage, expanding Social Security benefits, ending the wars, and making it easier for workers to join unions. He is the only candidate who doesn’t take money from billionaires who want tax breaks, or corporations who want to further screw their workers.
The idea of socialism scares some people, but mostly because regular people don’t have a firm grasp of what socialism is. Right now in the United States there is corporate socialism, or socialism for the rich. The government literally prints money every month and gives it to the already extremely wealthy banks. The government gives subsidies to the fossil fuel industry — free money, basically — so they can go on and continue destroying the planet. And those tax cuts Trump gave a couple years ago? More than 80% of the benefits went to the top 1%.
Unfortunately, the mainstream news — no matter if it’s Fox, CNN or MSNBC — continues to talk negatively about the other kind of socialism… socialism for poor people. When Bernie talks about Medicare For All, or free public college, or expanding Social Security, all of a sudden the media says America is broke and can’t afford anything. “Who’s going to pay for it?” they keep asking. They never ask that question when billions of dollars go to the banks, when billions of dollars go to Exxon Mobile, or when America wants to engage in another pointless war. They only ask who will pay for it when it comes to policies that benefit ordinary people like you and me.
Bernie Sanders understands this paradigm, because he is the only politician with the courage to refuse taking money from the banks, and the fossil fuel industry, and the war machine. Funny how that works. The policies he champions are supported by a majority of Americans, because ordinary Americans are the only people he takes money from the fund his campaign.
I don’t know who this post is for, whether it’s Republicans who are feeling especially overconfident about a potential Trump vs. Bernie general election, whether it’s liberals who want to see anybody except for Bernie win the Democratic nomination, or whether it’s for me and my own ego — wanting to call my shot before the Iowa caucuses get underway a week from today.
What I do know is my worldview isn’t uncommon or “radical”. Bernie Sanders is the currently the frontrunner in the Democratic Primary, and unless the DNC pulls some shenanigans in 2020 the same way they did in 2016, there is good reason to be confident in a Sanders nomination. And if and when that day comes — when Bernie squares off against Trump — conservatives should absolutely fear what’s to come.
I’m talking about Sanders winning all of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. I’m talking about him winning battleground states like Virginia and North Carolina. I’m even talking about him generating serious contests in dead-red states like Texas and Georgia. 2020 isn’t going to be an election like 2016 where voters have to decide between the lesser of two evils. Rather, it’s going to be an election determined by turnout. Bernie is the only Democratic candidate who is capable of creating the turnout necessary to defeat Donald Trump.
I rest assured knowing that the entire Democratic establishment — from Pelosi and Schumer to Hillary and Obama — will fight tooth and nail to try to keep Sanders from winning the primary. I also remain confident that the entire media establishment — from Fox News to CNN and MSNBC — will likewise smear him and manifest stories by the week about how he and his supporters are racist or sexist or anti-semitic. Put another way: Bernie Sanders has all the right enemies.
But we don’t need any of them to win in 2020. All Sanders needs are people. Workers. Those who have witnessed the savage reality that both political parties have dragged them through over the better part of the last century. Instead of war, and instead of letting the banks wreck the economy with no consequence, and instead of letting the drug companies and private health insurance agencies continue their onslaught, Bernie Sanders is the one candidate who can swing the pendulum back in the direction of ordinary people.
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot more in common with the average worker making $30,000 a year than I do billionaires.