I’ve finished my article for the Monitor and sent it off. The editor says it will run in Sunday’s paper. Prime time. Nice. (If you want to check out my Monitor articles, I maintain links to the most recent ones on the sidebar.) I usually try to keep the subject matter to topics of general interest: an abandoned farm, my chickens, my dog, hiking, observations about small-town life, that sort of thing. This one is political. Heck, I live in NH in the height of Primary Fever. Politics is kind of difficult to avoid. We get calls just about every day. It gets so we don’t want to answer the phone.
But I generally do, because as annoying as a pollster can be when I’m making dinner, I know the numbers count. People pay attention to polls, and wave them around in support of (or opposition to) various candidates. So I give the numbers my little nudge.
What I’m telling them is yes, I am highly likely to vote in the Primary, I will be voting Democratic, and I very strongly support the candidate I’m voting for. The issues that matter the most to me are repealing Citizens United, enacting sweeping, comprehensive campaign funding reform, and tax reform. And yes, I’ll be voting for Bernie Sanders.
I’ll confess I’m thrilled that Sanders happens to be a socialist, since that is where my leanings are, and that he is a Progressive when it comes to social issues. But that’s not the primary reason I am voting for him. Every other major candidate in the race has taken whopping campaign contributions from banks, corporations, and other sketchy sources. I’ve followed the money, and the trail reeks of plutocracy.
Sanders’ campaign contributions have come mostly from small donors. The average amount is something like $27. All the other major candidates are beholden to the wealthy corporate elite. Sanders is beholden to the rest of us. If Hillary Clinton claims she will work to reign in Wall Street, break up the big banks, and institute tax and campaign finance reform, I snort with derision. She is not going to bite the hand that feeds her. (The Republicans don’t even pretend to have this on their agenda.) However, if Sanders says this is his goal, I believe him.
It would be a long, hard battle. The wealthy, corporate elite is not going to give up power easily. They will use every dirty trick in the book, and dig into their very deep pockets to hold onto, and even tighten, their grip on the government. But the choice for us is either to give up and let them have it, let them suck our economy dry and starve us into submission, or fight back the best we can. I’m in favor of fighting back, even if it seems hopeless. Voting for Sanders is a first step.
I hope that a Sanders win would encourage other individuals with integrity to run for office, assured that we would support their efforts at reform. Because just electing a President isn’t enough; we have to give him a congress he can work with. That means paying attention to all the elections, for House and Senate at both the state and federal level, and governors. The focus has to be getting corporate money and influence out of politics. And yes, if I had a choice between a Republican candidate who had no corporate ties, and a Democrat who did, I’d vote for the Republican. That’s how important I think this is.
After all, there was a time when the Republican party turned out admirable statesmen including presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower (who warned us about the military industrial complex) and Lincoln. There are still many members of the party who are appalled at what the GOP has become. Yes, we might disagree on the role of government as well as on specific social issues. But I think we can agree that the level of corruption that has taken over our government at all levels is unacceptable. All of us, Republican and Democrat, must unite to get our democracy back and get rid of the oligarchy and its cadre of divisive, cynical opportunists. We need to get people into office who will work with each other, cooperating in a way that will lead to effective action for the majority, without hypocritical grandstanding and exploiting ignorance, fear, and hate to advance their agenda.
Then we can have a civilized discussion of our differences and see what we can agree on. Rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. Taking care of veterans and other deserving people in need. Making sure every citizen has clean water to drink and wholesome food to eat. Scaling back our military to something sensible and pragmatic, based on the recommendations of military experts themselves, not the need of the weapons industry to make money.
I am not optimistic that the majority of Americans have the wisdom, determination, and attention span to win this fight to recover our democracy. The popularity of Donald Trump is demoralizing. But the alternative is despair. To bury oneself in amusements and refuse to pay attention, grumble and bitch but do nothing constructive, pretend nothing is wrong, or allow oneself to become focused on hot-button social issues or blinded by fear of assorted vague threats, distracted from the very real and documented danger to our civil rights, national infrastructure, buying power and ability to earn a living wage.
So I do what I can. I blog, I write articles, I post in social media. And I vote. Because voting is the one weapon we have that they haven’t taken away from us. Yet. And if you’ll notice, they are trying, with voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and other subtle strategies. Just another way of solidifying their power over us.