On my Super Tuesday ballot I’m voting for Bernie Sanders for president. Why? I’m a social conservative—the last in my line of Midwestern Republicans—born into white privilege, educated, traveled and independently minded. In my view, politicians and the media aren’t telling the truth—about our economy, climate science, our future, and a whole lot more. We, the people, have been abandoned to a shredded social fabric and educational and health care systems that serve profit and greed, not us.
I know American history and the positive influence of trade unions, citizen activism and, yes, socialism on our contemporary lives. My heroes are the Roosevelt reformers—Theodore, Eleanor and Franklin—and the man from Missouri, Harry Truman. Yet over the course of my seven decades, the Democratic Party of 2020 looks more like the Republican Party of the 1950s, and today’s Republican Party resembles the rise of European Fascism nearly a century ago.
Bernie Sanders, a lifelong independent and activist for the common good, has spent 55 years fighting to improve the lives of other people, particularly working families and the disenfranchised. As president, he says he’ll be less of a chief executive than Organizer-in-Chief. In my view, we’ve run out of time to proceed incrementally, in moderation, while our economic inequities increase, our civil discourse regresses into violence, and our climate systems collapse.
Here in West Marin, Bernie has already benefitted our communities by negotiating $11 billion for rural community health centers, including the Coastal Health Alliance, as part of the Affordable Care Act. Together with the late Rep. James Clyburn, Bernie proposes extending and expanding that coverage, providing medical, dental and mental health care; substance use disorder treatment; and low-cost prescription drugs to 28 million people in 11,000 rural communities in every state in the country.
Bernie believes in ending the housing crisis. He would invest $2.5 trillion to build 10 million permanently affordable housing units and revitalize public housing by investing $70 billion to repair, decarbonize and build new public housing. He also wants to combat gentrification, exclusionary zoning, segregation and speculation.
Bernie proposes expanding Social Security and Medicare, and building on Obamacare a single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, include dental, hearing, vision and long-term care; in-patient and out-patient services; mental health and substance abuse treatment; reproductive and maternity care; and prescription drugs, all free at the point of service. Under Bernie’s Medicare for All plan, annual prescription drug costs would be capped at $200.
Bernie proposes reinvesting in public education through modernized green facilities, increased teacher salaries, expanded collective bargaining rights and teacher tenure, eliminating out-of-pocket expenses for classroom materials, and the end of the profit motive of charter schools. Public schools would be made safe and inclusive by protecting the rights of all students from harassment, discrimination and violence and by enacting comprehensive gun violence prevention laws.
Bernie will strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by ensuring the federal government provides at least 50 percent of special education funding and by giving special education teachers the support they need. He would ensure that schools provide year-round, free universal school meals, and incentivize locally sourced food.
He wants to guarantee tuition and debt-free public colleges, universities, minority-serving institutions and trade-schools for all interested students. He proposes cancelling all student loan debt for the 45 million Americans who owe about $1.6 trillion and placing a cap on student-loan interest rates going forward. He would end equity gaps in education attainment and ensure that students are able to cover non-tuition costs by expanding Pell grants to cover non-tuition and fee costs, tripling funding for the work-study program, and more.
Bernie’s Green New Deal, in addition to providing 20 million jobs and investing in our public lands as part of solving the climate crisis, calls for broadband to be considered a public utility, much like electricity. His High-Speed Internet for All plan would provide $150 billion in grants and technical assistance to states and communities to build out their own democratically controlled, co-operative or open-access broadband networks.
Independent family farmers need more support from the government, and Bernie’s Revitalizing Rural America proposal calls for more federal investment in struggling rural areas. It reforms the subsidy system so that more federal dollars go to small and mid-sized family farms instead of the largest producers. The plan includes a “right-to-repair” law granting farmers the ability to fix their own equipment, which some manufacturers currently forbid.
Sen. Sanders is from Vermont, a rural state whose dairy industry is struggling with prolonged low milk prices, President Trump’s trade wars and other challenges. Bernie wants to enact supply-management programs to prevent shortages or surpluses of commodities, which means setting price floors and matching supply with demand so that farmers are guaranteed the cost of production and family living expenses, and a living wage.
At the same time, Bernie is an advocate of animal welfare and ensuring animals’ humane treatment. He has co-sponsored several pieces of legislation to protect the interests of animals and has received a 100 percent rating from the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
These proposals and more—from democratizing elections to a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights, from common sense foreign policy to fair banking, including once again allowing post offices to offer basic and affordable banking services—are all posted at berniesanders.com, along with volunteer and event opportunities.
Here in our community, I’ve been curating West Marin for Bernie Sanders on Facebook, encouraging voter registration, organizing and hosting fundraising events since May 2015. On weekends, Laura Scott, Dale Sorensen and I staff a Bernie Sanders information table in front of the Point Reyes Station post office, alongside a separate, non-partisan voter registration table. Stop by sometime—we’d love to hear what your issues are and to share how Bernie can help.
Please, whatever your views, vote!
Marc Matheson is a late-blooming writer, a semi-retired KWMR programmer, and an amateur native plant landscaper. He lives in Inverness.