I want to take a couple minutes here to reflect on someone who I have come to really appreciate and respect. I never thought I would write something like this about a politician because I think that all of them are corrupt in some form or another, but over the past few months I’ve come to realize that maybe politicians can have some integrity. Bernie Sanders has helped to gain back a small, albeit very small, faith in the political process, and I want to give a few reasons why. Brace yourself.
1. He means what he says. Regardless of whether you agree with Bernie, he doesn’t attempt to deceive you. What he says is what he tries to do in office. Politicians from across the political spectrum have noted this about Bernie on many occasions, from Hillary Clinton to Pete Buttigieg to even Donald Trump. He is the first politician I have ever seen in my short life whose policies back up his talk. His voting record and the bills he proposes solidify his character.
2. He represents those who vote for him. He is a senator in the small state of Vermont, which while being fairly liberal, is also one of the most gun friendly states in the union. One of the things that liberals have against him is his weak stance on gun control. While I agree with some of this claim, a big reason is that he votes with his state. His people elected him and he represents them as best he can, even if he may have differing views on certain topics. I respect that he doesn’t compromise on his message, but is willing to make adaptations in order to best represent his people.
3. He sticks to his message. I will be honest, I wish he would talk about other things from time to time instead of bringing it back to medicare for all and the problem with billionaires. I wish he would show more often that he has other clubs in his bag. But dang, I admire his ability to take any topic and bring it right back to his message. He shows how everything is connected and he continually points out how other areas are helped when his core message is implemented. Will his policies work? I don’t know. Should we at least try something like it? I think so. I think it is worth the effort and I am thankful for Bernie for repeating it so often.
4. He seems angry. I know this is a weird one, but bear with me. He is clearly frustrated with the political establishment; so am I. He is frustrated with billionaires who hoard more wealth than they will ever need, even in the midst of a crisis; so am I. He is frustrated over the number of people who die because they don’t have access to healthcare, and equally as frustrated about the families who go into massive debt because of medical bills they can’t cover; so am I. Our system is messed up and it hurts the most vulnerable around and Bernie is the first politician I’ve seen to be righteously, and rightly, angry about these things. Again, we can debate whether his policies alleviate those problems in the best way possible, but I think he is going the right direction.
5. He truly seems to care about people. He doesn’t push his message because he thinks it’s the best way to gain power. In fact, when he started his career, some of these ideas sounded so ludicrous that it’s a miracle that he has been around this long and his message hasn’t changed at all. If he was looking for the spotlight or for glory, he chose the wrong message because of how divisive it is. No, I think the reason he has stuck by this message for years is because he truly believes that this will help the most people; he honestly thinks it will make lives better for the majority of Americans. He doesn’t make decisions to get rich – he doesn’t get money from powerful corporations and CEOs – he does it help his people. Currently all of the money his campaign raises is going to help people during this crisis. I think the reason he is staying in the race despite very little chance at winning is to make sure his message continues being heard and so he can continue helping people with the money he raises. Some people may disagree with this strategy but I see it as noble: he continues to fight even though it’s pretty clear he has lost.
Bernie Sanders has given me a glimpse as to what all politicians should be, whether they be Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, Conservatives, etc. He is not bought. He represents his people. He fights so that others may have improved lives. He is honest. If all politicians from both the left and the right had Bernie’s character, I might actually believe in the political process. I might have respect for both the Republican and Democratic parties. I might actually be excited to vote in November.