By: Farbod Moghadam
With Hillary Clinton at the forefront of Democratic polling for the 2016 election by a margin of 40+ points, it is difficult to argue that her chances to win the nomination and, ultimately, the presidency, are extremely high; however, there is a dark horse candidate who is slowly gaining ground with his populist message to improve the education system, expand social programs, and create a more equitable tax system for the common man. This man, Bernie Sanders, proposes a political revolution, and, frankly, we are in dire need of one as a country.
As Sanders himself argues, the economy is progressively growing to benefit the upper echelon of the socioeconomic pyramid, as the top 1% of the population acquires 99% of new income, and the top 0.1% controls the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90% combined, figures staggering to even staunch capitalists. Unlike other similar politicians who simply preach about the atrocities of the American system of today, Sanders has concrete policies he promises to push through as president.
He would eliminate tuition for public universities throughout the United States, something he brought up in Congress as the College for All Act in May of 2015. This bill was accompanied by the Robin Hood Tax, which would impose a 0.5% duty on capital gains. Although seemingly trivial, this tax would reel in $4 Trillion for the federal government over a 10-year span, during which time the free college tuition would cost the government only $700 Billion. Lastly, Sanders looks to close the loopholes that allow 1 in 4 large corporations to pay no taxes in spite of the corporate tax rate of 35%, he promises both to raise the minimum wage and increase the tax burden on the upper tax brackets, who arguably do not bear the grunt of recent economic hardships, he supports a $5.5 Billion investment package in job training programs, which would employ a projected 1 million youth, and he wants to improve the “crumbling” infrastructure of the United States, an idea that also serves as a great source of new jobs to further lower the unemployment rate.
Sanders’ propositions are not restricted to the realm of economics. He boldly suggests that the case of Citizens United, securing the right for private corporations to provide fiscal support for candidates in a presidential election, be overturned in favor of campaign funding on the basis of individual donations. He hopes to expand social programs by reallocating funds away from the military and towards domestic use. To this end, he finds that Saudi Arabia, the most affluent country in the Middle East with a grandiose military currently being put to use against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, should take some responsibility in the region and assist in the fight against ISIS in place of the United States. Sanders joins a small group of Democrats in opposing the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership in hopes of curtailing American dependency on China and competition between American and Chinese workers for jobs.
Pushing the liberal agenda even further, Senator Sanders would quantitatively shift the United States towards renewable energy, taking a solid stance against climate change, and he would legalize marijuana at a federal level, appealing to the youthful base of voters he needs to thrive in the election and formally ending the debate on an issue that has caused heated debate throughout a nation conflicted between aging conservatives and evangelicals on one side and raging liberals of all colors and creeds on the other.
While Bernie Sanders may not seem the traditional candidate for president, a Democratic Socialist, 73-year-old, Jewish senator from the state of Vermont, he embodies the idealistic yet feasible political stance that has characterized the educated class for years, and that would surely benefit the working and middle classes. He is not a mainstream politician, and that is precisely why any self-proclaimed liberal, progressive, or Democrat must vote Bernie Sanders in 2016.