Bernie Sanders is a remarkable man who engineered a commendable presidential campaign that is worthy of the respect of all Americans who believe that intelligence, integrity, sincerity and candor are essential traits for one seeking the office of President of the United States. As a candidate, Sanders directed an admirable campaign above reproach for he never deviated from his core values and beliefs. He is a highly principled, articulate and honorable man of conviction, and whether you agree or not with his ideological approach to governance, well-informed Americans should admit that his traits are those we admire most in our fellow man. Unlike his Democratic rival and party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Bernie Sanders has ‘walked the walk’ and ‘talked the talk’ for over half a century. He is the ultimate anti-establishment insider-outsider. Although of former Independent affiliation, he is liked by most members of Congress even if they oppose his views or find them unrealistic and unattainable. His perspectives in regard to addressing our exorbitant indebtedness, flagging education system, crumbling infrastructure, lopsided trade agreements, and often erroneous, frivolous and indiscriminant positioning of our troops abroad are spot-on.
Sanders’ label as a socialist has been often unfairly misinterpreted and intentionally misrepresented when equated to communism. Those who make fun of him and his views fail to understand the definition of socialism and its dominant role in American society. Socialism is defined as, “The theory of ownership of the means of production and distribution by society rather then by private individuals with all members of society sharing in the work or products.” Since the nineteenth century, social practices have been deeply embedded in the public sector of our economy in nearly every program that helps the sick, poor and elderly, and in our once highly touted education system which provided the knowledge that allowed Americans to build incomparable bridges, dams, and transcontinental highway systems, discover cures for major diseases and placed man on the Moon. It is an ideology that has allowed Congress to institute a draft to amass its military might in order to defend our shores from those who wish to destroy our great nation and to defeat tyrants who desire to rule the world and exterminate most of mankind. And, it is the process which enables our government to fund the above social services in a timely manner.
So, when you speak adversely of Bernie the ‘Socialist’, keep in mind that all Americans benefit from the public sector of the economy. This being said, other than to protect Americans from unsafe and unfair business practices, socialism should never encroach upon the private sector in order to gain control of the production and distribution of products and services. Nor should the public sector be permitted to expand in order to become the dominant sector of our economy, because democracy and capitalism are inseparably linked and are the driving forces which have provided the motivation and incentives for workers to seek a better life and the means by which to do so.
Sanders, when defining himself as a socialist, may have been more widely accepted by the electorate if he elaborated on the nature of socialism in America, and was more adamant when informing voters he had no intention of minimizing or eliminating capitalism by socializing private enterprise. Older voters have not forgotten Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Stalin and often equate socialism with communism and fascism, and these three forms of political orientation with these tyrants of the twentieth century.
When referring to the private sector of the economy, Sanders should be applauded for his well-defined objectives to improve healthcare, tax the ultra-rich, eliminate our indebtedness, improve our decaying infrastructure, break up big banks, eliminate unfair business practices, and raise wages to narrow the gap between the super rich and middle and low income earners. In doing so, he hoped to reign-in unfettered capitalism and minimize the corporate greed that in the first decade of our new century, nearly collapsed our economy as well as other major economies of the world.
Sanders commendably and valiantly overcame seemingly insurmountable barriers in his campaign including one of recognition crisis. Because he was not a widely known celebrity, he started at 1% visibility. However, in less than six months he gained national and international visibility. He did so without support of PAC and special interest money and without senate colleague endorsements while facing opposition from his party’s leadership.
Sanders is correct when he refers to the unfairness of the Super Delegates that are meant to deter maverick, outspoken, independent-minded candidates who threaten party leadership which refuses to give up power, control and position. Until the use of Super Delegates is eliminated, the Republican Party’s selection process will remain more democratic and less subject to scrutiny than the Democratic Party, which continues to control these special delegates all the way to the convention floor.
Perhaps Sanders’ greatest obstacle was timing. If Bernie was a candidate of the twentieth century, perhaps we would be a far different country. Maybe we would not have obscene income disparity, wasted natural resources and exorbitant funding of frivolous wars. Perhaps our healthcare and educational systems would not be so ineffective. Perhaps we would not have a crumbling infrastructure in dire need of repair. And, maybe we would not have numerous trade agreements that benefited other countries and raised the standard of living for their people at the expense of the American worker.
But, Sanders is not of the twentieth century but of the twenty-first, a time in which America finds itself faced with continuous deficits and mounting national debt. Currently, our nation cannot seek to fulfill the ‘American Dream’ for all who inhabit its land. America has been subjected to decades of mismanagement, inadequate leadership, and flawed fiscal and monetary policy, which has left us a debtor nation, making many of Sanders’ programs appear unrealistic and unattainable in the eyes of the most economically prudent and seasoned voters.
Bernie Sanders may not have earned his party’s nomination, but he certainly has won the hearts of the idealists and optimists among us and duly earned the respect and admiration of every American who believes in truthfulness, righteousness, integrity and forthrightness. At age 74, Sanders did not run for self-gratification. He ran because he believes America is in trouble and on a path towards self-destruction.
Sanders’ impact on the Democratic Party and the political process may very well outlive his political career and lifespan for his efforts have inspired a youthful generation that may remain active in the electoral process for years to come. This principled man of compassion captured the hearts and gave hope to millions of young followers, forced Hillary Clinton to be more forthright and less centrist, and may have changed the constituency and platform of the Democratic Party for generations to come.
When history mentions Sanders, I am sure it will note that he was a man of unquestionable integrity who stayed the course, and that his mind and heart guided his every action, which he sincerely believed were in the best interests of his country and the American public he faithfully served. Surely few among us can deny that Bernie Sanders is a genuine man “of the people, by the people, and for the people” and his legacy rightfully should be remembered as such.