Why Bernie Sanders deserves your vote

By Travis Hunter
On February 14, 2020

Travis Hunter, consultant


In the summer of 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders con­ceded the Democratic presidential primary and endorsed Hillary Clinton for the nomination. While I understood the reason­ing behind Bernie’s decision to do so, I remem­ber feeling disappointed. Questionable actions and behavior on behalf of the Democratic Na­tional Committee and Democratic Party elites to benefit Clinton during the primary caused me to feel disillusioned with the political pro­cess. In short, I saw how the sausage was made and I lost my appetite.

“Bernie is a once-in-a-lifetime candi­date,” I lamented at the time. “We’ll never get a chance like this again.”

I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

Last February, Bernie announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 2020, once again kickstarting his campaign for the presidency. Since then, the field of poten­tial nominees has grown crowded, giving the electorate a wide array of candidates to decide between. As is expected in politics, this con­test has opened the door to smears and outright falsehoods proposed by opponents, perpetuated by supporters and promulgated in the media. In my view, it appears a disproportionate amount of this has been unfairly aimed at Bernie.

With the Texas primary on March 3, and early voting beginning Feb. 18, I would like to take this opportunity to debunk, or at least chal­lenge, some of the more prevailing inaccuracies about Bernie’s ideology, character and cam­paign to explain why it’s possible some might have him pegged wrong and why he’s the only candidate capable of defeating Donald Trump in the general election.

A common attack lobbed at Bernie is that his platform is too extreme for the elector­ate and Americans would never vote for a dem­ocratic socialist. In my previous column, “In defense of democratic socialism,” I discussed the popularity of democratic socialist princi­ples and proposals that Bernie has championed for decades. Ideas like Medicare for All and tuition-free college, for example, are widely supported by both registered Democrats and Republicans, according to Jacobin magazine. It becomes somewhat illogical to portray an idea as extreme when it possesses majority and bi­partisan support. At that point, the idea becomes mainstream. The allegation also overlooks the fact that Bernie has been an elected official for nearly 40 years and, according to Wikipedia, received over 13 million votes during the 2016 Democratic primary. Americans will vote for a democratic socialist because we already have in tremendous numbers. Incidentally, during the 2016 primary, Bernie received more votes from young people than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton combined, according to the Washing­ton Post.

Speaking of Hillary Clinton, the Hol­lywood Reporter recently reported comments made by Clinton in an upcoming documentary in which she claims “nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him.” Regardless of wheth­er “nobody” refers to the electorate or members of Congress, Clinton’s assertion is a wholly untrue attempt to discredit Bernie’s appeal to voters and effectiveness as a legislator. Many in Clinton’s orbit have latched onto these com­ments and parroted them, but they are easily exposed as false with a bit of research.

According to GovTrack, in 2019 alone, Bernie had 169 cosponsors for bills and reso­lutions he proposed in Congress, and he per­sonally cosponsored 312 bills and resolutions presented by other members. While these num­bers do not constitute the highest rankings in the Senate, they quantify the willingness of leg­islators on both sides of the aisle to work with Bernie and are far from the picture Clinton at­tempted to paint of him. When it comes to the voters, Bernie’s popularity among the elector­ate and his own constituents is unmatched. Not only was he ranked the most-liked senator in a recent Morning Consult poll, he also boasts the highest favorability rating among candidates in the Democratic primary, according to FiveThir­tyEight.

While these high marks make short work of Clinton’s comments, they also speak volumes of Bernie’s authenticity, integrity and consistency. His views have been well docu­mented over the past few decades, and unlike most of his opponents, Bernie has been unwav­ering in his ideology and principles. Whether it was being arrested while taking part in a civil rights protest in the ‘60s, advocating for uni­versal healthcare in the ‘70s, standing up for LGBTQ rights and gender equality in the ‘80s or discussing the effects of climate change in the ‘90s, Bernie has always been on the right side of history. His record is unimpeachable, which should be a factor when assessing his electability.

The final falsehood that desperately needs a correction is the idea that Bernie can’t win the nomination or the general election. Not only does FiveThirtyEight give Bernie the best odds of winning the nomination, but data from RealClearPolitics shows he even leads Trump in head-to-head polls. Also, according to the New York Times, Bernie has the most individ­ual donors of any candidate in the race, which is indicative of the groundswell of support he possesses. It’s not out of the realm of possibili­ty to assume most of these donors will also be­come voters when the time comes. Also, as an Independent, Bernie possesses a crossover ap­peal to people outside of the Democratic Party, unlike his competitors, which could lead him to victory in states people would consider unwin­nable for a Democrat.

When I recently attended a Bernie 2020 event, Salvador Espinoza, a national constit­uency barnstormer for the campaign, raised a cogent point.

“Texas is not a red state,” he said. “Tex­as is a non-voting state.”

While this fact could be extrapolated to describe the entire country, it is especially true for Texas. According to the United States Elec­tion Project, only 60% of eligible American voters exercised their right in the 2016 election, with Texas ranked second to last in the nation for voter turnout. While many factors could have played into this, I feel one thing was miss­ing during that election in particular: enthusi­asm. The only way to defeat Donald Trump in November is to give the electorate an alterna­tive candidate they can get excited about. As long as the DNC doesn’t put their thumb on the scale, that’s where Bernie comes in.

So, at the Texas primary on March 3, I hope you will join me in voting for the candidate with the highest approval rating, favorability rating, the largest amount of individual, small dollar donors and a passionate, multicultural and multiracial base. I hope you will join me in voting for the candidate with decades worth of a proven track record, a history of standing up for the disenfranchised and the working class, the ability to work together with Congress and an uncompromising platform that has majority and bipartisan support. I hope you will join me in voting for Bernie Sanders.

We have been given a second chance at a once-in-a-lifetime candidate.

Let’s not waste it.

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