Why YOU Should be Feeling the Bern

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Why YOU Should be Feeling the Bern

Max Laval, Columnist

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2020 is bound to be an exciting year. Not just because I finally graduate, but also because of the upcoming presidential election. Regardless of who you support, it is impossible to deny that this upcoming election is bound to be a heated one, with President Trump vying for his reelection and over 20 democrats working hard to try and stop that from happening. If you don’t like Trump but have no idea who to support out of the many appealing candidates, my hope is that I can convince you, through this article, to support my personal favorite candidate, Bernie Sanders. And even if you support Trump or have already set your heart on another candidate, stick around, maybe I will be able to change your mind. 

 

First, I would like to discuss Bernie’s position on an issue that weighs heavily on the minds of all high schoolers, and especially us seniors: college tuition. The cost of going to college has increased dramatically over the years, as can be seen in this graph from Business Insider –

The problem is that the average American simply can not afford the ever-increasing price of college. This has led many to take huge student loans, leading to a debt total of a whopping $1.5 trillion+. Many students are never able to pay off their loans, or they have to deal with them until far later in life than one would expect. This is in large part because of the stagnation in wages and growing income inequality that we have seen in America for the past 30 or 40 years (Bernie is also one of the original advocates for a $15 minimum wage, an idea that was put into effect by congress recently and is meant to help deal with the aforementioned problems). Because of this crippling student debt, millennials are choosing to live at home for far longer than any other generation, and are also more likely to be on their parents’ healthcare. As Bernie explains on his website, “Just 30 years ago, tuition and fees at a public, four-year university totaled $3,360 per year in today’s dollars. That same degree today costs more than $10,000 per year in tuition and fees and more than $21,000 per year including room and board. Meanwhile, median hourly wages for college graduates have risen by less than $1 since 2001, when adjusted for inflation” Bernie’s solution is simple: make public universities free for all and forgive student debt. Some might argue that such a plan is not feasible economically, but the burden of having over $1.5 trillion in student debt is actually far greater. Furthermore, many countries in Europe already have free or incredibly cheap university. Nowhere else in the world does it cost as much to get a secondary education as it does in the US. Another common argument is that college is actually a waste of money for many people, and that it is their own fault for racking up such a large debt. This is also untrue, the United States economy has shifted almost entirely into one based on highly specialized service jobs that require a college degree to obtain. If the idea still sounds outlandish to you, I offer you this: In the past, high school was not free, but as the economy changed and jobs became more cognitively demanding, public high school was made free for all. Has this destroyed our economy? No, it has improved the lives of the vast majority of people living in the US today and has actually improved our economy by making more lucrative jobs available to a larger number of people.

Another issue that is near and dear to the hearts of many people our age is climate change. This problem is particularly threatening to us young people, as climate catastrophe will become nearly unavoidable within 11 years if our energy systems do not switch to using more efficient and renewable sources. As the ice sheets continue to melt, the sea level continues to rise, and if coastal areas began flooding, a massive refugee crisis is inevitable, not only in the US but in nearly every country with a coastline. This is only one of the disasters we are faced with if drastic measures are not taken to combat the continuous warming of our planet. Despite this, not much is being done to combat climate change, largely because of the power of large energy corporations and their lobbies. However, Bernie Sanders has a plan to fight back: The Green New Deal. Bernie was a sponsor and supporter of this legislation when it was initially brought forward in congress, and plans on using his power as president to implement it extensively. The Green New Deal plans on switching to a 100% renewable energy grid by 2030, declaring climate change a national emergency, gradually investing $16.3 trillion into combating climate change (and in doing so, creating 20 million new jobs), as well as a whole slew of other ideas. Again, some may argue that this is too expensive, to which Bernie reminds people of the actions taken by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during WW2, where it was decided that the immediate investment would end up being significantly less costly than the consequences of inaction. Many, including Trump, argue that the US is not the greatest contributor to climate change, and we would be castrating our industry without actually fixing the problem. This is simply untrue as citizens of the United States contribute more carbon and use more energy per capita than anybody else on the planet. As for the countries that also contribute significantly to climate change, Bernie intends on encouraging other countries to fight climate change by “providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change,” It is abundantly clear to everyone that has studied this issue that drastic measures must be taken, and Bernie plans on doing just that. 

Perhaps foremost among Bernie’s policy proposals his idea of Medicare for All. Today, America is the only country in the western world that does not provide its citizens with free healthcare. To many that are unable to afford health insurance, it is barbaric, immoral, and simply ridiculous that the richest country in this planet’s history does not provide its citizens with something so necessary and crucial when our neighbor to the north, Canada, does. Bernie Sanders actually demonstrated this quite effectively by taking a group of diabetics in his home state of Vermont up to Canada, where a vial of insulin that costs $300 in the US costs only $30. Sanders has proposed a 4-year plan in which medicare, which is currently offered only to those that are 65+ years old, is offered to those that are 55+, 45+, 35+, and then to everyone. He also plans on adding dental and eye care to the list of covered expenses. To some, this plan seems prohibitively expensive, but that immediately begs the obvious question, how come so many other countries are able to do it? The answer is that the US currently spends on average twice as much per capita on healthcare, the reason being that there are no price controls on the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. With the government negotiating prices, this plan becomes easily affordable. Many are also scared that this would mean an increase in taxes, something which Bernie does not deny. However, the majority of Americans would be spending significantly less on healthcare coverage, and far more people would be covered. There is a multitude of reasons, both moral and economic, why healthcare is necessary. The state of healthcare in the US now ties people to jobs and disincentivizes entrepreneurship, a massive burden on our economy. Furthermore, people that are unable to receive the care they need are more likely to contribute less to the economy. But most importantly, healthcare is a right. If you disagree, I would like to remind you of our declaration of independence, which stresses the right to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” I ask, how can we live up to these words if Americans continue to die because of man-made forces that they have no control over.

Some Democrats argue that Bernie and his proposals are too radical and that they make him “unelectable,” This line of reasoning is powerful for many within the party, as their primary concern is removing Trump from office. But is Bernie actually unelectable? I would reply to this criticism with a strong no. In my opinion, the reason why Trump won in 2016 was that he, regardless of what you think of the solutions he offered, channeled the feelings of distress among the working class. This is why many formerly democrat states with a large population of manufacturing and other low-income workers flipped to Trump during the last election. This puts Bernie in a strong position to run against Trump, as his platform has consistently been pro-worker for the entirety of his long political career. In fact, Bernie won many of the states that turned red election, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, in the Democratic primaries. Furthermore, repeated polling has shown that in an election against Trump, Bernie would win. I want to remind my fellow Democrats, Trump is far from the only problem America is facing today. We do not need someone who will simply beat Trump (although, Bernie is definitely capable of doing so), we need someone who has a revolutionary vision that will allow the average American to live happier and healthier lives.

Due to the format in which I am writing, I am unable to list all of the reasons why I think Bernie is the candidate we need. Among those reasons are his adamant support of stricter gun regulations and ending the private prison industry, as well as his remarkably consistent record on all sorts of matters. Nowadays, some of Bernie’s ideas are not held by him alone, but before the primaries in 2016, they were virtually unheard of within the Democrat Party. Bernie has been a champion for these solutions and for the America people since he began his career in politics in 1981. If you are interested in reading more about Bernie Sanders and his policies, I recommend you visit his website or watch one of the many interviews he has done, such as his interview with Joe Rogan as well as The Breakfast Club. 

 

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