Millions of Bernie supporters are going to think twice before voting for a business-as-usual Democrat. Many of us aren’t going to vote for a moderate conservative like Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete or Michael Bloomberg. We’re not going to lift a finger for their campaigns, as millions of us have for Sanders by lending our time to phone bank, canvas, and generate support for the independent senator, not to mention our millions of dollars in donations fueled entirely by working-class people, not big corporations. 

I know — President Trump is awful. Please hear me out.

Bernie Sanders is simply not the same as these other candidates, making it impossible to pledge to vote “blue no matter who.” He is speaking truth to power of the evils of the world like no other candidate is willing or able because he does not take special interest money.

This is the huge distinction: Bernie’s campaign is funded by working people like myself (primarily teachers). Other candidates are funded by powerful corporate interests. Bernie is putting himself in a position to govern on our behalf, which is why millions of volunteers were willing to knock on 500,000 doors in Iowa (close to half of all Iowan households) and make over 10 million calls in the month of January. That type of people power is not only astonishing and the ticket to beating Trump, but it’s also the first step in fundamentally changing this country and world for the better. If you take Sanders out of the equation in November, you eliminate this enthusiasm.

Bernie’s vision transcends the uninspiring incremental progress approach of “pragmatists.” While other candidates say we can’t afford Medicare for all, universal childcare or a Green New Deal, these ideas are central to Bernie’s campaign and appeal.

And why shouldn’t they be? He’s talking about social programs the rest of the developed world already enjoy, and giving us a legitimate opportunity to be world leaders in saving our environment, an issue we are increasingly running out of time to combat.

We’re in an age where incremental progress isn’t good enough. Under President Obama, we did next to nothing to combat the climate crisis, which needed meaningful action before he even took the helm. There’s no time for incremental progress on this or other issues. Our climate is heating up today. People are not getting the health care they require to survive, or not go bankrupt, at this very moment. Wages are stagnant. Money is increasingly funneled to the top of the economy, causing pollution in the information supply and corruption in the political process. Endless wars in the Middle East continue. The working class is abandoned.

All of these things were true under George W. Bush and Obama, and they’re as true today as they’d be under a Biden presidency or another four years of Trump. Both major parties in this country continue to move rightward as truly left-leaning people haven’t had an exciting candidate to vote for in decades, if ever. Bernie Sanders embodies a shift from this rotten reality. 

Aside from the painfully uninspiring vision peddled by these moderate conservative Democrats, the Democratic National Committee is currently re-writing rules to stop a Sanders nomination. What incentive do Sanders supporters, a gigantic voting bloc, have to stick around and vote for some corporate hack who doesn’t in any way align with their beliefs? That’s particularly when there was already foul play in the DNC primary a mere four years ago? 

(It should be mentioned, too, that Bernie beats Trump in most polls; see RealClearPolitics.com.)

Look, we’re under no delusion that Sanders will be able to enact half of what he wants, even if those policies would undoubtedly make for a better country. But what better way to get the ball rolling for meaningful change than to nominate a candidate for the people? What better way to challenge the blatant corruption and lying demagoguery of the conman Trump than to nominate a good and decent man with a 40-year career built on consistency, positivity and governance on behalf of the people?

Sanders takes all of the anxieties people rightfully have living in this country and points the finger not at immigrants, Muslims, “fake news,” or any other trope weaponized by Trump, but at the powerful corporations that are destroying the environment, the working class, and America itself.

Whether you’re “blue no matter who” or a true progressive, there is truly only one choice in 2020. Time is running out for the climate, and continuing to leave the working class behind will fuel economic anxieties, opening the door for more demagogues like Trump to run campaigns powered by xenophobia, division and paranoia.

Vote Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and in the general election. The future of the country and the world depends upon it. 

Sam Shain of Hallowell is a musician and an English teacher.


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