Why I Support Bernie

Staring at the beginning of our Super Tuesday week of voting here in London, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’ve been working so hard to get Bernie elected President. I’ve been canvassing weekly, working with the media, going to innumerable meetings, and paying silly attendance fees to go to Democrats Abroad debates.

I read Karin Robinson’s post today about why she supports Hillary. I have great respect for Karin’s Obama campaign in London in 2008, and we are hoping to replicate her success for Bernie this year. But I absolutely disagree with her on why she supports Hillary. Here is her piece if you haven’t seen it: http://obamalondon.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/if-you-are-choosing-between-two-great.html

I started my political life, really, canvassing for Jerry Brown’s Presidential campaign in 1992. I was 16, in a conservative Californian sea-side town, and it wasn’t exactly an easy crowd. Bill Clinton was certainly charming, and after the Reagan years, even George HW Bush looked like a decent president. After Clinton, Bush II was an obvious nightmare. But it was Obama in 2008 that offered the first real hint of hope to a self-avowed progressive (in the USA) and/or socialist (in Europe). And happily, at the end of the second term, I can say that Obama has been an excellent leader of the USA.

But here’s the thing: although I’m a registered Democrat, I don’t belong to the party — it belongs to me. It needs to represent my politics, not the other way around, and with Hillary, I’m being asked to swallow a bitter pill which could be poison. Her mantra of ‘electable’, ‘experienced’, and that she’s a ‘leader’ doesn’t hold up against her embrace of the Third Way, the official mantra of which should be ‘go wherever the wind blows’.

The Third Way policies of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton led the Western World to remove essential regulations in favour of short-term gains which lead to the 2008 banking crisis, took us into war in both the Balkans and the Middle East, and allowed two charismatic leaders to take advantage of modern polling to maintain their popularity in an incredibly cynical manner. There is ample evidence to suggest that Hillary will follow a similar path. And now, with the spread of unofficial channels of communication — social media and the Internet — and Hillary’s relative lack of charm compared to her husband, the Third Way is crumbling because people don’t believe she even believes in what she’s doing.

This is not Bernie. Bernie is consistent, even if his views aren’t considered mainstream. In fact, it’s surprising to some people how mainstream some of his ideas are. He is for single-payer healthcare, as are the majority of people in recent polls. He is against sending ground troops to Syria, and voted against the Iraq war, both of which are also held up by polls. He believes that the wealthy are taking money through a rigged system from the rest of the US, which is also a commonly-held belief. The one thing he says that seems really extreme to people, is that these things can be better.

Bernie is not running for President to drag Hillary leftwards. His goal is not to get her to change her position on Keystone XL, TTIP, NAFTA, or Syria. His goal is to be President of the United States, to change the USA in a fundamental way which is necessary for us to believe in the future, and to help make the world a better place. Of course, a political revolution doesn’t end with the Presidency, but it certainly is a good start. And it will not be the end, no matter who wins.

President Obama offered us hope after a dark time in US history, and he delivered. Hillary is offering us a return to Clintonian politics as usual — a return to public opinion manipulation on a grand scale. Bernie is offering a chance at a better future — and we owe it to ourselves not to be so cynical as to turn it down because it sounds difficult.

And that is why I will be proud to vote for Bernie Sanders tomorrow. Please, think about your options, and vote your conscience.