The BAS Endorsement: Why You Should Vote for Bernie Sanders
Primarily written by Sayre Piotrkowski with research and other input from, Colin O’Dell, Nico Simonian, Kristin Lawless, Cindy Martinez, and Stuart Schuffman.
The readers of this site range from anti-fascist anarchists who are wary of being involved in electoral politics at all, to other folks whose sole priority in the upcoming election is removing Trump from office. Regardless of where you fall along this spectrum, we submit that the clear choice in our upcoming primary is Bernie Sanders.
Though Sanders has emerged as the best candidate, other contenders are deserving of merit.
Senator Elizabeth Warren began this campaign as a legitimate progressive alternative to Bernie Sanders. For the first several months of the campaign it appeared that she was in lock-step with Bernie about the need for a national single-payer health care system, and her proposed ”CARE Act” rightfully treats the opioid epidemic as the public health emergency it is.
In an early debate Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Marianne Williamson and, believe it or not, even Pete Buttigieg spoke frankly about the moral imperative of reparations for African Americans.
Andrew Yang’s campaign has had the effect of further mainstreaming the idea of Universal Basic Income, which should be considered by any candidate who seeks to combat poverty, automation, and outsourcing in a comprehensive and forward-looking manner.
Even billionaire Tom Steyer has taken the provocative step of stating that he would declare a national emergency on climate change on his first day in office.
These bold measures reflect a far more realistic view of our current state of affairs than we’ve seen from Democratic candidates in recent years. And yet, no rival candidate has put forth a platform that addresses the perilous place we find ourselves in as a nation, with the urgency, comprehensiveness, or honesty, that is offered by the Sanders campaign.
- Only Sanders has pledged to forgive all 1.6 trillion dollars in student debt. Sanders’ “College For All” act would also eliminate tuition and fees at all public four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, tribal colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs.
- Only Sanders would abolish medical debt.
- Only Sanders has remained steadfast on the urgent need for single-payer health care.
- Only Sanders supports the enfranchisement of those incarcerated. The aggressive expansion and protection of the right-to-vote is the proper and necessary response to the anti-democratic tact of the American right-wing.
- Only Sanders has pledged to Abolish Ice and stop all deportations on his first day in office, an act which does not require congressional approval.
- Only Sanders advocates ending “at-will” employment. This reform is admittedly unlikely to come to pass. However, advocating for such a radical measure is a legitimately revolutionary step that could drastically alter the balance of power in the American workplace.
- While both Sanders and Warren have ambitious plans to combat climate change, only Sanders offers a version of the Green New Deal which garnered both the top rating from Greenpeace and the endorsement of the Sunrise Movement, and only Sanders voted against Trump’s latest trade deal, which Food & Water Action called “a one-way ticket to climate disaster.”
Furthermore, what sets Sanders apart from his rivals more than any policy prescription, is that just as it did four years ago, the Sanders candidacy offers voters a rare and precious opportunity — the chance to strengthen our Democracy by simply casting a ballot.
Bernie’s success is intrinsically tied to the rejuvenation of a politically coherent American left. He is, for some, the face, and for others, the product of a burgeoning popular movement with roots that reach back to Occupy Wall Street. This movement has grown to encompass teachers striking for smaller class sizes and better pay, as well as the insurgent campaigns of people like Chesa Boudin, Jovanka Beckles, Rashida Talib, Pamela Price, Tiffany Caban, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. This movement has within it the potential to become a legitimate counter to the corporate domination of our politics.
Because there are no bundlers, mega-donors, or media conglomerates providing a tailwind for his campaign, every step forward Bernie Sanders takes testifies the decreasing ability of the American elite to contort or subvert the will of the people. A Sanders victory will say to the Democratic Party that it cannot be both a party of corporate interests and human interests; that telling the truth can be more powerful than carefully triangulating your message; and that it takes more than not being a bigot, sexist, or homophobe to labor on behalf of the people.
Why Not Warren?Photo by Gage Skidmore
Senator Elizabeth Warren is the clear second choice in this election. While their foreign policy positions clearly differ, domestically Warren and Sanders appear to share many of the same goals. However, there have been moments throughout her campaign that have raised some alarming concerns:
- In October, Senator Warren began to walk back her previously uncompromised position on single-payer health care.
- Last month she released a plan to pay for her “medicare-for-all” proposal which included regressive and unnecessarily convoluted taxes. It would appear that Warren did this largely to avoid simply being straight with us about the fact that paying for Medicare-for-all could result in some modest middle-class tax increases. In doing so, she is adhering to an outdated conventional wisdom which holds that no candidate can ever say they will raise taxes for any reason, no matter how vital the need. This feels far too much like politics as usual for a candidate who wishes to be viewed alongside Bernie as a leader pushing “big, structural, change.”
- Warren again was reluctant to tell us the truth when asked about the order of Democratic primary elections. It is a numerical fact that opening with primary contests in Iowa and New Hampshire devalues the input of people of color and young people. Warren could have easily just said so.
- In November, Warren was asked by Angela Rye to name three African-Americans whom she could see appointing to her cabinet. After stumbling, Warren named former Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick. This is troubling because Deval Patrick is precisely the sort of figure Warren’s campaign would have us believe she wants to protect us from. Until very recently, Patrick was managing director at Bain Capital, a so-called “vulture capitalist” organization that has presided over the transfer of tremendous wealth out of the American middle class. Before that, he was an executive at Texaco, where he protected the interests of one of the planet’s worst polluters. You will find no such figures orbiting Bernie Sanders.
Why Not Yang?Photo by Gage Skidmore
Among the lower-polling candidates, Andrew Yang’s proposed “Freedom Dividend” is the policy that has garnered the most attention. This is a form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) where every American adult would receive $1,000 per month directly from the government, a potential counteractive to the erosion of living wage work in the United States.
Unfortunately, Yang is pushing the most regressive form of UBI possible. Under Yang’s plan, the stipend amount is static – it is not tied to GDP, a percentage of tax revenue, or a cost of living index. If you want to know what is likely to come any benefit tied to a specific monetary value, rather than a specific need, just look at the decreasing value of our federal minimum wage.
It gets even worse when you begin to consider how most Americans would be forced to spend their dividend.
According to this 2018 study, the average personal debt of a US citizen (excluding home mortgages) is over $38,000 and that figure is rising at about 3% per year. Even more shocking is the fact that 20% of Americans report spending at least 50% of their income servicing this debt. As you might expect, the younger you are, the more staggering these numbers get. What this means is that, if we were to initiate UBI before enacting debt relief, we would in effect be using American taxpayer dollars to insure the profits of the same lending institutions and corporate health-care providers who have been looting the American middle class for decades.
By contrast, Sanders’ Medicare-For-All plan alone would put more dollars back into the pockets of some American families than Yang’s “Freedom Dividend.” Add to that Sanders’ proposals for student debt relief, medical debt relief, and a national living wage. Then consider the cuts Congress might make to existing entitlements in order to fund the “freedom dividend,” and it becomes clear Sanders’ platform offers more impactful and enduring relief for the majority of Americans.
Why Not A Centrist?Photo by Gage Skidmore
If you are planning to vote for Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, or Pete Buttigieg it is likely because you are convinced that a centrist who can appeal to some Republican voters is most likely to win the general election.
Let’s say that happens and in November we elect someone like Joe Biden, who last year told a room full of donors that nothing would fundamentally change if he is elected. In this scenario, we will have put a Democrat in office who is not an overt racist or sexist, who respects the rule of law, and is able to restore the United States to a place of respect in the world. If our next President does all these things but does not take sufficient measures to combat our climate emergency, to reduce the price of health care, and to address record inequality, we will still be a country where people die for lack of access to the most basic of necessities, and scores of climate refugees will wait at our borders. What then would stop another opportunistic fascist from repeating the Trump playbook?
This is why we must remain dedicated to a positive vision that is about more than just stopping Trump. Not only for the obvious moral reasons, but also as a safeguard against the election of the next Trump-like figure.
What About Electability?Photo from Vox Media
It is a frightening fact that even the most favorable general election polling shows very tight races in most swing states regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. More frightening is that this polling does not account for voter suppression efforts, which appear have already begun in Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Ohio.
The 2020 Democratic Party nominee will need massive voter turnout to overwhelm these anti-democratic tactics. It may be hard to glean from corporate political coverage but according to the most recent polling data Bernie Sanders is the candidate most likely to make this happen.
- He dominates among young voters and is the top general election choice among voters of color. – These two demographics will need to turnout in much greater numbers than they did in 2016 for the Democratic party nominee to have a chance of winning the general election in 2020.
- He has the most individual donors of any candidate, including in so-called “Obama/Trump” swing counties.
- He is the only candidate who would make Texas a swing state. Texas is behind only California with an allocation of thirty-eight electoral votes.
- He has the most volunteers.
- He has the highest approval rating among the candidates.
- He has the highest approval rating of any United States senator.
A Democratic Party that was truly dedicated to defeating Donald Trump above all else, would be rallying around any candidate with that resume. Whether your priority in this next election is defeating Donald Trump, installing a true progressive in the White House, providing relief to our most vulnerable citizens, or taking back the Democratic Party from corporate elites, the choice is clear: you should vote for Bernie Sanders.