It’s the season of lofty promises and political posturing as hopefuls gear up for the 2016 presidential race.
Hillary Clinton officially threw her hat into the race April 12, making her the favorite for the Democratic nomination, while many progressives wait for the inevitable Elizabeth Warren challenge.
Meanwhile, the bruised and battered Republican Party is trotting out a lineup of far right circus clowns. Rand Paul can’t finish an interview without getting his feelings hurt when reporters call him out for flip-flopping. Ted Cruz is a war hawk over Iran and wants ridiculous new border controls. And Rick Perry is still practically bragging about killing innocent people via capital punishment. Of any of these names, Warren has stood up to big banks in the past, so progressives should support her (although she hasn’t announced a candidacy) over Clinton or the Republicans.
But in the post-Citizens United U.S. political auction, one voice represents a glimmer of hope for the future of the environment, the hope of peace in the Middle East and the economic well-being of all American citizens. If you truly care about the environment, the U.S. and Israeli dominance of Muslim countries from Palestine to Pakistan, and hope for a major increase of the minimum wage, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the man for the job. The only openly socialist-leaning member of Congress, Sanders has for decades called out his colleagues for hypocrisy on these three crucial fronts, and, if nominated and elected, would bring that message to the White House. Unfortunately, Sanders has not yet announced his campaign either.
Americans are starting to open their eyes to the mess we have made of the environment. As Jim Inhofe, chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, is outright denying climate change, young people are losing patience with old capitalists who deny science in order to push their own economic agenda. But for years, Sanders has been one of the loudest voices in favor of the environment and for breaking the stranglehold the Koch brothers — two billionaire Republican donors — have over Congress. Young people can see that Congress has been stacked for years so that these billionaires can get away with mass environmental degradation, and Sanders has been on our side the whole time.
While former President George W. Bush was responsible for one of the greatest military blunders in U.S. history, President Barack Obama has learned from his mistakes but has also escalated some of the most egregious aspects of the Bush era foreign policy, namely the drone program.
Obama has also done almost nothing to curtail the police occupation of the most disadvantaged communities in our society. Our entire police system — from the cops to the prisons, to the kangaroo courts in Ferguson, Missouri, and across America — is in need of drastic reform.
For years, Sanders has been calling for prison reform, citing the success of alternative prison systems such as those employed in Scandinavia. He has demanded police body cameras for years. The whole system is in need of change, and Sanders is the man who can make it happen.
And finally, the most important issue of all: your own pocketbook. Unless you are a millionaire, the only congressperson who truly has your economic interest in mind is Sanders. For years, he has led the charge for $15 minimum wage across the board. For years, he has called out big banks for their injustices. For years, he has called out the Wal-Marts of the economy. For years, he has been critical of the hypocrisy of the derivatives market. Unless you truly hail from a boatload of corporate money, Sanders is the guy you want in the White House.
What’s not to like about this guy if you are a young person who cares about the environment, foreign conflict and the financial well-being of everyone? If these issues matter to you, I strongly encourage you to check out Sanders’ Youtube channel and see what he has had to say about these crucial issues for decades. I understand he can’t win — we live in a highest-bidder political. But if young people come out strong for Bernie Sanders in 2016, it will for once show we are aware of the mess the establishment has made and are demanding change.
Hank Stillwell is a contributing columnist