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A Case for Bernie Sanders

The times have finally caught up with his vision

IMG_2372
Picture taken by R. Millstein at Bernie's rally at UC Davis in 2016

By Roberta Millstein

With the California primaries upon us in less than two months, it’s time to turn our attention to the presidential primaries, which will be held on March 3, 2020.  Since we have an earlier primary than in past years, California can make a big difference in who will stand for election in November.  Check your voter registration status here and make sure that you are registered for the party whose primary you want to vote in.  (Yes, you can register “No Party Preference”[1] and that will let you vote in some parties’ primaries, but most agree that it is more trouble than it is worth.  You can always change your party to something else later).

As important, of course, is the decision about who to vote for.  Here is how I came to support Bernie Sanders. Perhaps you will find my reasoning persuasive.

Back in 2015, I was hoping Elizabeth Warren would run.  Bernie Sanders, among others, encouraged her to, but she decided against a run that year.  So, I figured I would support Hillary Clinton.  Then someone passed around the I Side With quiz.[2]  Unlike most online quizzes, it is thorough and detailed.  It overwhelmingly showed that my beliefs were much closer to those of Bernie Sanders than they were to those of Hillary Clinton.  I was very surprised, and so I decided to learn more about Bernie.

What I learned was that Bernie supports free public higher education.  This was something that California’s Master Plan for Education had promised, but that promise long ago fell by the wayside.  I learned that he supports single-payer health care (so-called Medicare for All, though what he is actually proposing is better than our current Medicare because more is covered), which would mean that people wouldn’t go broke paying high premiums and deductibles if they had a serious illness, or that they wouldn’t be forced to stay in jobs and relationships they didn’t like just to retain their health insurance.  I learned that he is a staunch friend to the environment, fighting to take bold action in the face of the global warming climate crisis.  I learned that he supports a woman’s right to choose (more strongly than Hillary Clinton did, actually).  I learned that he voted against the war in Iraq.  Etc., etc.

But more importantly than any of that was how long Bernie has held these views, and how long he has fought for them, even when he was in the minority or the lone voice.   In his long and successful political career he has never given up fighting for the average citizen against big corporations who have, more and more, taken over our political process.  He has literally been fighting these fights for decades.

PoodlesForBernie
Even my dogs support Bernie

So, I supported Bernie’s campaign in 2016 and I support it again in 2020.  Of course, I was tempted to support Elizabeth Warren as well, and I have sent some money to her campaign, admittedly not as much as I have sent to Bernie’s.  We do need to have a woman in the White House soon.  She is certainly my strong second choice and I will happily support her if she is the Democratic party nominee.  However, she does not have the consistent record that Bernie has.  To give just one recent example, she was initially a strong supporter for “Medicare for All,” but then quickly backed off her strong support for a more incremental approach. 

I want someone who will fight for me and my fellow citizens.  During Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s administrations, I too often saw them compromise before the negotiating had really begun in earnest.  (President Obama did this on health care, for example).  There is a time for compromise, but one should go in with the strongest hand possible.  I am confident that Bernie Sanders will do that.  I am not as confident that Elizabeth Warren will, even as I recognize that she would bring many strengths to the position.

To make this even more personal: as much as I want a woman in the White House, I would also like to see a Jewish person in the White House.  It is not by accident that we have yet to see a Jewish president.  Anyone who thinks that anti-Semitism is dead need only scan recent headlines to see that it just went underground for a while.  Electing Bernie Sanders as our first Jewish president would be historic.

Some have concerns about Bernie’s electability, but they should not.  In fact, his base is the most loyal and energized of all the Democratic candidates.  He has brought new citizens into the political process and will continue to do so.  He will bring out the youth vote.  His support among people of color has risen and will continue to rise.  He is rising in the polls in Iowa and NH.  He consistently polls better than Trump.  He is highly electable.

For all of the above reasons and more, I strongly support Bernie Sanders for President.  I encourage you to listen to what he has to say with an open mind and to consider his record.  We live in difficult times right now and they call for a new approach.

The time for President Bernie Sanders has come.

 

[1] Note that the “American Independent Party” is an actual party, and so is not the same thing as being an independent.  In California, if you don’t want to register with a party, you register as No Party Preference (NPP).  But then you will have to ask for the appropriate ballot when you vote, and you can’t vote in all primaries (e.g., you cannot vote in the Green or Republican primaries if you are NPP).  So again, I advise that you register for the party whose primary you want to vote in.

[2] Updated for 2020, in case you want to check it out.

Comments

Donna Lemongello

I too support Bernie and have pretty much decided on him over Elizabeth Warren, he has been in the fight for so long. I worry though that the will split the vote for those of this persuasion and have us end up with Biden. I also worry that he will not beat Trump when push comes to shove, I hope I'm wrong. And I wonder if the most competitive of all against Trump, given how much of America thinks, whether Klobuchar may be the strongest candidate in this regard.

Roberta L. Millstein

I very much hope the vote doesn't split between Sanders and Warren to give us Biden. I guess that's one reason I wrote this now -- time to coalesce around a candidate.

I do think he can beat Trump. He doesn't take any crap, I think his message is appealing (once he is able to get it out, which the media hasn't always allowed), and I really don't think Trump has much on him. People trot out the socialist label but that just doesn't have the impact that it used to.

I don't think Klobuchar inspires the passion that Sanders does, and so I don't think she would bring out the vote the way that he would. I think the so-called "middle America" vote is over-estimated, and to the extent that there is one, again, I think that Bernie's message is one that is found appealing -- it's working in Iowa, for example.

Ron O

I had no idea that Bernie was Jewish, nor do I care. Maybe I wasn't paying attention to such things.

For what it's worth, I recall (barely) supporting Hillary, over Obama in the primary. Only because I thought she had superior leadership qualities. I then supported Obama - the best "speaker" we've had in a generation, although it seemed that he never figured out how to strike a "deal" with Republicans.

I generally do not support any politician due to their skin color, gender, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, disability, etc. Even if they've historically been discriminated against. I think it's a grave mistake to do so.

I like Bernie Sanders (over Elizabeth Warren), simply because he seems to stick to his basic principles, no matter what. However, this country is not going to elect a "socialist democrat" pushing 80 years old (who recently had a heart attack), after supporting Trump.

I also don't think that Biden can beat Trump. Unfortunately, I suspect that Trump will win re-election due to the economy. (However, my "predictions" regarding Trump's chances have been completely incorrect, so far.)

Just my opinion.

Roberta L. Millstein

Ron, wow, that is surprising to me. I thought that he is Jewish was as well known as the fact that he is from Brooklyn, NY. I hope that it is clear from what I wrote that being a Jew is not my primary reason for supporting him -- as I said in the article, what made me support him was that he shares my values and supports the policies I'd like to see enacted. That he is Jewish is a reason that I support him, but not the reason. Icing on a cake, you might say. I would not support Joe Lieberman, even though he is Jewish, or Sarah Palin for that matter, even though she is a woman. My reasons are that someone's background can be part of who they are and help them see issues in a different light, just as where a person comes from affects how they see the world. And then I do think having more diverse politicians helps us to move toward a more equitable society.

I am more positive than you are about Bernie's chances. As I said to Donna, I don't think that the "socialist" label is the insult that some people think it is, especially for young voters. He has bounced back after the heart attack and appears vigorous and energetic.

All that being said, if you like Bernie and you think he should be president, I encourage you to fight for him! Talk to your friends and family. Write things. Donate money. Donate time. Let's not give up. Let's make it happen.

Ron O

Regarding being Jewish - I simply hadn't thought about it, so it didn't "register" for me.

I don't buy into the argument that someone's skin color, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. necessarily has any relevance regarding their positions on issues. It might, or might not.

Ben Carson works for Trump. So does Kellyanne Conway.

Regarding national politics, I try to make decisions regarding who I think might win. And so far, I don't think that any of the Democrats will.

In contrast to 2008, when we had TWO outstanding candidates. One of whom subsequently lost to Trump - against all odds.

I think that folks in more "liberal" areas of the country mistakenly assume that others think as they do. And, they're proven wrong almost every single time.

Overall, individuals have even less influence over national politics than they do over local ones.

Ron O

I do, however, think that Buttigieg's sexual orientation is (still) an "issue" for some people, as well as his youth and lack of high-level experience. He has almost no chance of beating Trump.

Other than that, he's an excellent speaker, at least. (Probably the best of the bunch, in that regard.) And, perhaps "middle-of-the-road" enough to (otherwise) be elected. Kind of reminds me of Obama.

Greg Rowe

If memory serves, I believe that some polls in 2016 showed that in a head-to-head matchup, Bernie would have beaten Trump.

And if Bernie wins this time, his twin, Larry David, will have a permanent job on SNL! Alec Baldwin, of course, would have to find another gig.

Roberta L. Millstein

Ron, you wrote:

I don't buy into the argument that someone's skin color, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. necessarily has any relevance regarding their positions on issues. It might, or might not.

Ben Carson works for Trump. So does Kellyanne Conway.

I agree with everything you say here. That's not why I think that race, gender, etc., can be relevant. As I said already, issues and values are foremost for me. I'm not going to favor a candidate who doesn't share mine, unless I am choosing the best among less-than-ideal choices, which of course happens.

Instead, I think those characteristics matter because of a person's experience. To give some examples: A woman is more likely to understand what gender discrimination looks like; a man may or may not. A Black person (regardless of gender) is more likely to know what it's like to be racially profiled. Etc. These experiences inform not just the policies that are "on the table," so to speak, but future policies that we can't even anticipate. Is it guaranteed that a woman will stand against gender discrimination and a Black person against racial profiling? No, of course not. But I think it's more likely.

With respect to Bernie, because of his family's experience with the Holocaust, I believe he is extremely sensitive not only to other genocides, but also to words and actions that lead down the path to genocide. Does one have to be Jewish to be as sensitive? No, of course not. But I think it's more likely.

I think different people bring different experiences that make it more or less likely for them to be sensitive to important issues, and so, it is important to have diverse backgrounds representing us in government.

I also think that representation matters for how we view minorities in society and for how young people view themselves. Having minorities in positions of power won't solve our discrimination problems overnight, but I think it helps.

Anyway, that is a longer attempt to try to explain why race, gender, etc., matter to me in electing a candidate, even as they are not the top concern.

Ron O

Fair enough, Roberta. But, being a member of a group that has historically been discriminated-against does not necessarily "open one's eyes" to discrimination against other groups. There's examples of this.

Discrimination is a human foible. I suspect that everyone has been on (both) ends of it, in some form or another. (Sometimes in ways that don't seem overt.)

Unfortunately, some people can't see or acknowledge it, regardless of their group membership. Some folks even deny that it occurs, or are only sensitive to it if it affects "their" group, and seek to downplay it elsewhere. Those are the folks that might cause me the most concern.

Roberta L. Millstein

Ron, I think the key word here is "necessarily." You and I both agree that being a member of a discriminated group doesn't necessarily open one's eyes. My claim is only that it tends to. Hopefully, when one supports a candidate (or not), one knows enough about the candidate to determine if their eyes are (generally) open.

I certainly agree that some groups seem primarily able to see discrimination within their group and much less able to see it outside of their group. That is indeed a sad state of affairs.

Ron

I do realize that discrimination which occurred in previous generations has also impacted the status of current generations. And, some folks can't see that, either.

Roberta L. Millstein

Ron, very true.

Keith

The country will never elect a socialist like Bernie. People realize either he or Warren would crash the economy and stock market.

Roberta L. Millstein

Keith, I disagree. Bernie supports a $15 minimum wage. More money in people's pocket at that socioeconomic level means more money spent in the economy. Bernie supports free public education. A better educated populace free from heavy debt means people free to pursue the career of their choice, people free to be entrepreneurs. Bernie supports Medicare for All. Healthy people are people that can work effectively and efficiently in their jobs. Bernie supports the Green New Deal, which means new jobs in the alternative energy sector.

Bernie would be good for the economy. What isn't good for the economy is what we have now, which is increasing income and wealth disparity. It isn't sustainable. (Not to mention, it isn't fair).

Keith

I've seen some estimates that Bernie's proposals would cost $18 trillion. That money has to come from somewhere. So much higher taxes on the people and businesses will lead to an economic crash. Many financial pundits are saying just this. That said, I thank you for posting my comment. I wasn't sure that would happen being I'm strongly against Sanders and Warren for their socialist policies.

Roberta L. Millstein

Keith, we post all comments as long as they aren't personal attacks, which yours wasn't. We appreciate different points of view as long as they are expressed respectfully.

Back on Bernie, I would need to see the details of that estimate. There are a number of different programs in play, and Bernie has given explanations for those different programs.

Just to give one example: People talk about the cost of Medicare for All for individuals, but it would mean no more premiums (which sometimes employed people forget about because they are automatically deducted from paychecks), no more deductibles, and no more prescription drugs. Basically, no out of pocket. So then there is a tax. But the tax will be much less than people are paying now overall. How can that be? It is because we are no longer giving millions of dollars to a useless middleman, the insurance companies, and we are no longer spending money on staff time to deal with their convoluted logistics and paywork, with doctors pleading insurance companies to cover needed treatment.

Roberta L. Millstein

On that note, I just came across this article:

"A new study reveals the US could save $600 billion in administrative costs by switching to a single-payer, Medicare For All system"

https://www.businessinsider.com/single-payer-system-could-save-us-massive-administrative-costs-2020-1

Keith

I can bring up many articles like this which cite: "Several prominent money managers have warned that a victory by Sanders or his ideological ally, Senator Elizabeth Warren, would bring a decline of between 25% and 40% in the value of U.S. stocks. That would destroy trillions of dollars in wealth of U.S. households. The resulting negative effect on everything from tax revenues to employment would affect even families without much saved in the stock market, and, ironically, could make Sanders’ agenda of government expansion much harder to achieve." https://www.newsmax.com/ira-stoll/bernie-sanders-stock-market-economy-socialism/2020/01/13/id/949584/

Keith

I have investments in the stock market through personal accounts and my 401K and if by any chance it appears that either Sanders or Warren are going to win I will sell out before the election. I feel most investors are in the same boat.

Roberta L. Millstein

I only have time for a quick response - hopefully more later. But I will say that mere opinions about the economy don't sway me, even if they are from experts. Experts have biases and vested interests too. I need to see analyses that look at specific plans. I've already outlined why it doesn't make sense that Sanders' policies would hurt the economy, why in fact it seems they would help it. I also have money invested in the equivalent of 401Ks and I am not at all concerned. If you sell out you will miss out, I predict.

Keith

Experts on all sides, left and right leaning, have biases and opinions. Why is your outline any more relevant than mine?

Roberta L. Millstein

Agreed, we all have biases, which is why I always ask to see the analysis. I haven't offered you a dollars-and-cents analysis, but I gave you reasons why the policies that Bernie is proposing would be good for the economy. In contrast, the article that you linked to only gave opinions without any reasoning to back up those opinions.

Dan Cornford

Just a short note to say that I agreed 110% on your post re Sanders! I too have agonized between BS and EW and given money to both campaigns. I’d really wanted EW to run in 2016 as well. But I think the reasons you give for tilting toward BS are the right ones, and I’d add that I think BS will be a much more formidable debater and rhetorician than EW when it comes to a campaign in both the formal debates and the rallies. BS can just about give it back in kind but EW...?

Of course I am distressed about the rift between them in recent days. I suppose at some point and in some form it had to happen with two such closely matched rivals with good poll ratings. But I do not like the form it took. He said, she said, No I didn’t etc. My gut instinct is to believe what BS said at debate: that he could not possibly have said what he is claimed to have said about a woman not having a chance at the presidency. It just defies all logic and what BS has stood for. Besides, would he have said that as recently as 2018  to EW’s face? Finally, the timing of this accusation raises issues. We can only hope that they do not self-destruct each other in the coming week and months.

I agree with you 110% also on M for All. I was in every sense a child of the NHS. I was born in the year that it was created, and my father in its very early years was one of the first PCPs in it, and supported the NHS ardently all his life despite shortcomings due to lack of funding and Thatcher etc.

But there is a but. I do worry that argument that 150 million people are going to lose their private health plans, a significant proportion of whom are happy with them, such as most UC and CSU employees/retirees  (i.e. you and I), may be a powerful argument especially as neither, IMHO, BS or EW, have really made a convincing case, which could be made, that people will not lose their doctors and hospitals and or will still have as much choice or more than before. I think BS an EW need to address this with more specifics.  I also think, based on several studies that both could do a better job of showing the M for All is actually cheaper, not only for people, but also employers and that it would not cause these massive budget deficits because of this. Good studies by some academics on this that I see here and there which BS and EW do not cite, though I know cost estimates vary.

At any rate, my 10 cents worth,

Dan

Ron O

Dan: "My gut instinct is to believe what BS said at debate: that he could not possibly have said what he is claimed to have said about a woman not having a chance at the presidency. It just defies all logic and what BS has stood for.

If that comment was made, it might have been a comment regarding the country (and its voters) rather than a comment regarding whether or not a woman "should" be president. Sort of like my comment regarding the chances of a socialist/democrat, pushing 80, who recently had a heart attack. Or, someone who is gay.

Not so long ago, many people thought that an African-American couldn't be elected as president.

In any case, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, so it's certainly an incorrect conclusion.

Who knows what was said (between two friends), but I'm not sure why it even came up at this point. (If it were up to me, I'd ask why Warren apparently waited until now, to bring it up.) Regardless, it doesn't strike me as particularly important.

For what it's worth (and not my preference), I predict that Trump will be re-elected. (But, my predictions have not been particularly accurate regarding his chances, in the past.)

Keith

This parody pretty much sums up Sander's and Warren's promises:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enTEvon9pbw

Ron O

Regardless of what one thinks of the issues, the parody that Keith posted (above) is clever and well-done. Thanks for sharing it.

Roberta L. Millstein

It really is quite clever and well done. Even a staunch Bernie supporter like me has to admit that.

But what the video leaves out is how much worse things have gotten since the Boomer generation was in school. (Things actually started getting worse with Gen X -- see https://money.cnn.com/2014/09/22/news/economy/gen-x-poorer-than-parents-pew-study/index.html ).

So, college costs and Medical costs are WAY higher. Student loans are out of control. Minimum wage buys much less than it used to -- it has not kept up with inflation. The gap between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans has widened dramatically. So what Bernie is promising isn't "free stuff" that Boomers worked hard for. What he is promising is a return to a society where people can go to college for a reasonable amount, get a good job, and get paid a decent amount for it without an insane debt load.

Keith

There are a lot of Bobs out there. The Bobs that paid off their own college bills instead of buying that car or boat, the Bobs who worked while in college instead of living off of loans, the Bobs who refinanced their college loans into private loans or into their home loans, the Bobs who joined the military for the GI college bill, the Bobs whose parents sacrificed to put Bob through college, etc.......

Roberta L. Millstein

I don't deny that there are Bobs out there. The point is that it is a whole lot harder to be a Bob today than it was for Bob-the-boomer. Tuition is a lot more, salaries are a lot less, even the GI bill isn't what it used to be. We need to make it possible for there to be Bobs again.

Keith

No, I think the point is the Bobs see this giveaway as totally unfair to the Bobs who were responsible enough to take care of their own debt and not rely on others to pay it for them. Read the comments sometime on articles pushing for student debt relief. The comments run about 10 to 1 against. Some Bobs are even saying if student debt gets relief then they should get their money back that they paid to actually pay off theirs.

Roberta L. Millstein

Keith, I took out loans and paid them off myself. Things were harder for me as a Gen Xer than they were for a Boomer, easier than they are for Millennials and Gen Z. But just because I struggled doesn't mean that I want others to struggle too. I want things to get better for future generations, or at least to stay equally good, which they aren't.

Keith

These are smart college students, they knew exactly what they were doing when they signed for their loans. Now they're looking for the easy way out at other's expense. The people see it for that. This is a losing issue for both Sanders and Warren.

Roberta L. Millstein

I disagree that it's a losing issue, especially if these same young people vote...

But aside from that, to say that they had a choice... the choice is not to go to college? That's not a very good choice. I mean, if people genuinely don't want to go to college, that's fine. But if they want to go, and society has priced it so ridiculously high that most can't afford it .... that's a problem that society needs to fix. It doesn't do any of us any good if our college-striving students can't afford to go. We need an educated populace. It's a public good. That's why I think that the government should support it, the same way that it pays for K-12.

Keith

Elizabeth Warren confronted about her policy of forgiving student loans. I'm telling you, this is not a winning position for Democrats. I believe a huge majority of the country sees this as totally unfair.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/elizabeth-warren-clashes-iowa-father-004440804.html

Keith

Read the comments at the bottom of the article. They're running 20 to 1 against the policy.

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