I have long since grown weary of hearing Bernie Sanders characterized as “extreme,” a “radical,” and “socialist.” No one will ever accuse The Donald of being a socialist. But telling over 16,000 lies in his first three years in office seems pretty extreme to me. And if denying the undeniable scientific evidence of human-induced climate change and dismantling the entire regulatory system put in place over the 20th century to protect American citizens from rapacious industrialists and financiers isn’t radical, I need a new dictionary.
Meanwhile, President “I-knew-it-was-a-pandemic-all-along” did away with the National Security Council’s pandemic unit in 2018, and now our private for-profit healthcare system is being overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, unable to provide sufficient hospital capacity or healthcare workers, and our capitalist economy cannot produce enough test kits, face masks, hand sanitizer, or even toilet paper to meet demand.
What’s so extreme about providing adequate medical care for everyone? I’ve heard we can’t afford it. But we can afford to pour $2,000,000,000,000 (count all those zeroes, folks: that’s two trillion dollars) into the black hole of Afghanistan? We can afford ten new aircraft carriers at a cost of $13,000,000,000 each (still a lot of zeroes: that’s thirteen billion bucks per ship) even though our current carrier fleet is at least five times larger than the next largest carrier fleet in the world? We can afford 500 F-35 fighter planes at between $79,000,000 and $109,000,000 (depending on the model: A, B, or C) for each airplane? But the richest nation in human history can’t afford decent healthcare for its citizens?
Elsewhere in the world, French president Emmanuel Macron, not exactly a flaming Lefty, has suspended rent payments, utility bills, and taxes during the COVID-19 pandemic while the Spanish government has nationalized all private hospitals. Germany is providing direct payments to millions of self-employed workers and microbusinesses. Radical? More like taking action for the common good. And these are countries that already have broad social safety nets the envy of anything provided in the United States of America.
As for the accusation that Sanders is a socialist, how do folks think their roads get paved, their sewage gets treated, they get drinkable water when they turn on their taps? Collecting money from the body politic and using that money for the common good: that’s socialism. Indeed, one of the largest socialist undertakings in the entire world is the US military, those uniformed heroes we ostentatiously honor at every sporting event and public gathering in America. Our service members and their families are provided with government housing, government healthcare, government education, and in most cases food, clothing, and entertainment. All of this, good people, is socialism at work.
Indeed, I submit to you that Jesus of Nazareth was himself a socialist. He threw the moneychangers—the capitalists—out of the temple. He told the 1% they were going to have a hard time getting into heaven. Something about the eye of a needle. He provided healthcare to the poor, and never asked for a shekel in return. He hung around with prostitutes and sinners. His disciples were ordinary working men. He fed the hungry multitude fish and bread at no cost to those he fed.
Maybe if we had a little more socialism in this country, our neighborhood electrical systems wouldn’t short-circuit every time there’s a storm.
And you’re telling me that I shouldn’t support Bernie Sanders because he’s a radical? An extremist? A socialist? Maybe if we had a little more socialism in this country, our neighborhood electrical systems wouldn’t short-circuit every time there’s a storm. Maybe if we had a little more socialism, we wouldn’t have 47,000 structurally deficient highway bridges in danger of collapse. Maybe if we had a little more socialism, the richest 10% of our population would not own 77% of the wealth (including 38% held by the top 1%) while the bottom 40% of our population would own a bit more than nothing at all, which is the total amount of wealth owned by 120,000,000 Americans.
We can argue about specific figures and actual numbers, and what constitutes “no wealth,” but anybody more observant than a blue point oyster can see that something is seriously amiss when Michael Bloomberg can shell out $500,000,000 (all those zeroes again) on a vanity run for president while major corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s are paying fulltime employees poverty-level wages.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is about to give us Joe Biden, who has little to offer us beyond the fact that he’s not Donald Trump. He is part and parcel of the same Democratic Party that turned its back on the majority of Democratic voters during the Clinton years, and did nothing to reverse the creation of Republican Lite during the Obama years, thus paving the way for Number 45 and the disaster that has befallen us all.
The Democratic powerful want to get rid of Donald Trump and get back to the system they were happy with. Bernie Sanders wants to get rid of that system. No wonder the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN are all screaming at the top of their lungs: Radical! Extremist! Socialist! No wonder Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Diane Feinstein, John Kerry, and an avalanche of other party stalwarts have endorsed Biden. They’ve all been working the system all their lives, and it’s paid big dividends for them.
Looking at all of this in the cold light of reality, I don’t imagine Bernie Sanders has a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting the Democratic nomination. The system really is rigged, as we learned in 2016 when the party stalwarts denied him the nomination the first time around. But I voted for Bernie in the Pennsylvania primary four years ago, and if the coronavirus doesn’t get me first, he’ll get my vote in my state primary again this April.
Bill Ehrhart has voted in every election—general, primary, and special—since he first became eligible to vote in 1972 (he was not allowed to vote during his time in the US Marine Corps because the voting age was then 21: old enough to kill, not old enough to vote—yet people think it was the antiwar crowd who disrespected returning veterans).
Postscript 4/15/20: Looks like I won’t even get the chance to vote for Sanders in the PA primary. So, barring anything unforeseen, the Democratic candidate will indeed by Joe Biden. Not my first choice, but I’ll have less difficulty voting for him than I did for the Democratic candidate in 2016. But can Biden beat #45? We shall see, won’t we? Either way, the system will still be the system. But the buffoon who’s in the White House now really has to go.